The past week at Marist College was filled with events all relating to video games. Starting on Friday, Nov. 7 to Saturday Nov. 15 Marist played host to a number of events targeted at gamers, students interested in game design and even those in the game development industry.
The first event was the first annual Hudson Valley Undergraduate Games Conference on Friday, Nov. 7. This event, hosted by Marist Play Innovation Lab, was a showcase of students from Marist and other local colleges as well as some local game developers. The students made presentations, showed off their projects, and listened to talks from developers about various topics. “This is the first time we’ve tried this, but we hope it becomes a tradition… We aim to expand the presence of games and the gaming community here at Marist, as well as get students excited about working in the field of game development. We are also very excited to see other colleges get involved as well as people in the industry,” says professor Karen Schrier, the head of Play Innovation Lab and the conference as well. The conference was held in Lowell Thomas and featured talks by Joshua DeBonis, the founder of independent studio Sortasoft, Nik Mikros, the creative director of games Smashworx and Tiny Mantis, and Chris Garrett, CEO and founder of Z Workbench and creator of Qat Qi. Other panels included presentations by students about many topics relevant in the gaming community, and demos of student developed games.
Other events held during the week included a development workshop led by Marist alumni Liz Jasko, and a talk held by John Zurhellen of Nickelodeon Games.
By far the largest event, however, was Game Day. Hosted with a collaborative effort by three clubs — Marist Game Society; Marist Anime Society; and Chess club — this event is an all day gaming event held in the Cabaret in which students and alumni get together to play games, participate in tournaments, earn prizes and have fun. The event features hundreds of games and consoles that are running many different games, as well as card and board games and a PC gaming area. “We do this event every semester, and every semester it seems to get bigger and better,” says Gregory Cremins, president of the Marist Game Society, “It wouldn’t be possible without help and equipment donations from students, but after all the hard work is done, the event is always a blast, and our biggest event. This year we had over 200 people come and play some games with us.” Game Day this semester included several student-hosted tournaments including a Magic: The Gathering trading card game tournament, and several different versions of Super Smash Bros. tournaments. “the tournaments are always the most exciting part of this day. We usually have great prizes and lots of students want to participate every semester.” said Marist Anime Society Vice President Kristin Casey about the tournaments at Game Day.
Marist Games Week is looking to become an annual occurrence here at Marist College, and based on the first run this semester, I imagine that that will be the case for a long time to come.