Ready, Set, Game! UT Students Creating Apps as Part of Weekend ‘Global Jam’

Want to find the ghosts on campus? Want to exercise certain muscles in your body? Want safety tips for walking alone at night?

There will soon be apps for that, thanks to UT students participating in a worldwide event called the ARIS Global Game Jam 2015.

Their efforts are being coordinated by Cary Staples, a professor of graphic design in the School of Art. She asked students in two sections of First Year Studies 129 to create design iPhone apps or games as part of the two-day game jam.

Participants are using ARIS, a user-friendly open-source platform for creating and playing mobile games, tours, and interactive stories using GPS and QR codes. They began working this morning and will make presentation about their apps they’ve created at 5:00 p.m. Saturday in the OIT presentation room adjacent to the Commons in John C. Hodges Library. The presentations will be open to the public.

The game jam is a whirlwind challenge that provides students with opportunities for hands-on learning, collaboration, and networking.

“You don’t need to know how to code. The game jam is a place where designers can find coders and coders can find designers. It’s a place for storytellers and people with innovative ideas,” she said.

Staples has ten teams participating. One is developing a game where the user finds ghosts on campus. Another is designing a fitness game that leads the player through exercises targeting different parts of the body. Some of the other games are going to be safety related.

“The games can be playful or fun, too. I just asked my students what was important to them and this is what they came up with,” she said.

Staples said students who are interested in building their design portfolio can gain a lot from these jams.

“If students want to get into game design, this is a good first step. This is an opportunity to go from an idea to a viable prototype in forty-eight hours,” she said.

She also said the jams are great networking events for aspiring game designers.

“The Global Game Jam allows students the opportunity to collaborate and learn. The idea is that we can do more as a group than we can do individually. These games provide the opportunity to participate in that kind of environment.”

Staples is the UT Office of Information Technology’s 2015-16 faculty fellow.

“As an early technology adopter, Cary has worked with OIT for many years. Whether teaching, collaborating with colleagues or enhancing her own artistic skills, she is always reaching outside the box and asking ‘What if?'” said OIT’s Christina Goode.

“In satisfying her passion for design and her curiosity for serious gaming, she hopes to not only inspire students to be inquisitive hands-on learners, but to encourage faculty to explore serious gaming as a collaborative interdisciplinary venture for teaching and research.”

C O N T A C T:

Cary Staples (865-974-3210, staples@utk.edu)