May 8, 2014

Games from retro to iPhone at May 16 showcase

Black Friday game
GDIAC
Shove through the crowds to get the items on your list in "Black Friday," a computer game with a retro style, on display at the GDIAC showcase May 16.
Bunny game
GDIAC
The annual showcase will include games for phones and tablets, like "Bunny-in-Box," where you arrange platforms to help a jack-in-the-box get back to his box.

What games will you be playing next year? Maybe “Black Friday,” where you play a shopper pushing through crowds and trying to get the items on your list before they sell out, or “Dash,” where you must constantly charge at targets or fall out of the sky.

If you’re sick of doing homework on your iPad, try “Flick Ship Spaceship,” where you must protect your ship by flicking away meteors and asteroids, sometimes competing with other players, so flicking an asteroid away from your ship sends it toward theirs. Or try another iOS game for phone or tablet, “Bunny-in-Box,” about a jack-in-the-box that has lost its box; you must help him get back by arranging platforms.

These are all games created by students in the Game Design Initiative at Cornell (GDIAC). The semester’s work in beginning and advanced classes will be on display at the Game Design Showcase, May 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the ACCEL Computer Lab in Carpenter Hall. The games are created by teams of programmers, artists and musicians and often show professional-quality polish. Except perhaps “Black Friday,” which has a retro pixilated look suggestive of the days of 8-bit gaming.

The event is in effect the final exam for students in game design courses, and the reactions of the folks who come to play may have an effect on grades. Game designers also compete for awards based on audience voting and the judgment of faculty and visiting gaming professionals.

Launched in 2001, GDIAC offers an undergraduate program and a minor in game design, and an outreach program for middle and high school students in the Ithaca area. It was one of the earliest undergraduate programs in game design, and the first to be offered at an Ivy League institution. Many alumni now work at major game companies, and others are creating startups in what has become a billion-dollar industry.

After the showcase, many of the games will be available for download from the GDIAC site.