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U Students to Show Off Latest Video Game Projects

A screenshot from a video game called “Eye of the Swarm,” one of more than 20 student-made games that will be on display Friday, Dec. 12, during an open house for the University of Utah Entertainment Arts & Engineering game design program. In “Eye of the Swarm,” you push, pull and bounce your swarm through beautiful living environments.

Dec. 8, 2014 – Students from the University of Utah’s nationally recognized Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) video game design program will be showing off their latest gaming creations, ranging from a horror title that takes place in Dust Bowl Oklahoma in the 1930s, to a mobile app that teaches teens the importance of having health insurance.

The EAE Open House 2014 will be held Friday, Dec. 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. at EAE’s Master Games Studio inside the Film and Media Arts Building, 370 S. 1530 East, on the University of Utah campus. The event is free and open to the general public.

More than 20 video games will be on display and demoed by its creators, all from EAE’s undergraduate and graduate programs.

Some of the games that will be shown at the open house include:

404Sight: A running action game in which players have to determine what will speed up or throttle their progress. The students say the game is a statement on protecting Net neutrality and preventing Internet service providers from restricting your access to the Internet.

Ritmo: A music-creation game where the player builds a song by running through the level multiple times, playing a different instrument each time.

All is Dust: A horror game about the trials of living through the American Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Players must use their wits to protect themselves from the dangers of the fields.

Many of the titles to be featured at the open house are not just for fun and games. Several also were produced as part of a university research project to help educate players about different topics. They include:

Nanotubes: A simulation that explores the concept of nanotubes, microscopic cylindrical forms of material developed by chemists and engineers.

Arches Healthcare Save Your Bacon!: An educational game for mobile devices in which players learn how costly life can be without health insurance.

The games represent as much as a year of work for small and large student teams that have been learning what it is like to develop a video game in real-world conditions.

“It’s about the process of how you collaborate and how you interact,” said Robert Kessler, U professor of computer science and EAE executive director. “Students end up with actual real-life published products, so they learn about all the ways to make a game from conception to publication.”

Since the EAE program launched seven years ago, it has quickly become one of the most highly regarded video game design curriculums in the nation. This year, its undergraduate program was ranked second in the country, while its graduate program was ranked fourth, according to The Princeton Review’s annual survey.

“We’ve had industry people tell us that they love to hire our students because of the experience they get working in teams and dealing with game development situations under pressure,” Kessler said. “They’ve got all of that experience under their belts, so they can just come in and start working.”