May’s Journey takes grand prize in sixth annual MassDiGI Game Challenge pitch contest – 2/27/16

May’s Journey takes grand prize in sixth annual MassDiGI Game Challenge pitch contest

Chaima Jemmali, Small Squares with Monty Sharma, MassDiGI

Cambridge, MA – February 27, 2017 – May’s Journey by Small Squares won the grand prize in the sixth annual MassDiGI Game Challenge pitch contest this weekend.

In May’s Journey, an educational game that teaches programming through puzzle solving and storytelling, the hero, a girl named May, finds herself trapped in a broken game world. She wants to escape but in order to do so she must find her friend. There is only one way to get out; coding. May’s Journey aims to interest middle and high school aged old girls in computer science by teaching them the basics of programming through play.

Representing Small Squares at the contest was Chaima Jemmali, the game’s programmer and designer.

The game, which also won the Serious Category at the contest, will be released on PC later this year. Jemmali, a native of Tunisia and former Fulbright scholar, began working on the game in 2015 with her colleague Jonathan Yang as part of their interactive media and game development master’s degree program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). Yang currently works in Shanghai, China.

“We are thrilled May’s Journey won the Game Challenge,” said Jemmali, now a Ph.D. student in computer science at Northeastern University.  “Everyone with a passion for making games should go. You learn so much from the judges and other competitors.”

The MassDiGI Game Challenge helps indie, startup and student game developers and entrepreneurs shape their ideas and products for launch. This year 33 teams from across the northeast competed in front of a packed room at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center in Kendall Square.

“MassDiGI’s focus on fostering new, creative, business-savvy talent is exactly what the New England game industry needs. Game Challenge alumni have opened their own studios or found jobs at larger studios,” said contest judge Rick Cody, a past Game Challenge winner. “MassDiGIhas helped my own company, Team Future, better understand the business of game development. They’re a tremendous and evolving asset.”

Since the MassDiGI Game Challenge began six years ago, over 200 different teams from around New England and beyond have pitched games and taken home prizes valued at over $100,000. Top past winners include titles such as Intern Astronaut, PWN, Catlateral Damage, Depression Quest, Wobbles and Starlot Derby.

The annual event is a showcase for the expanding game development cluster in the region. Over the event’s two days, dozens of game industry veterans served as mentors and judges.

As the Grand Prize and Serious Game Category winners, the Small Squares team won cash and other prizes valued at about $5,000.

“This year’s contest was the closer than ever before,” said Monty Sharma, managing director of MassDiGI, “We were very impressed by all the teams.  Their creativity and skills improve every year as do their games.”

Other top winners include Lawrence, MA-based BareHand which won the People’s Choice Award for its game Cede as well as the Indie Demo/Alpha Category, Best Technical Plan and Best Business Plan.

“Winning not only our category but the People’s Choice Award is amazing,” said Edwin Jack, BareHand’s founder. “We’ve come to the Game Challenge before and each time we get better and this year we hit it right with Cede.”

Cede is a 3D Action-RPG combining the best experiences of Diablo and Harvest Moon with a unique new mechanic called “combat farming”.

Cede screenshot

Salad Hunt, an arcade-shooter in a casual mobile setting, earned Best Art, Best Audio and was the runner-up in Indie Demo/Alpha Category. In the game, you play as a chef that is surprised to find that the salad ingredients have come alive as cute but mischievous characters that are ruining the kitchen.

The other top Indie winner was Kill the Old Gods by Weeping Witch Studios which won the Beta/Near Release Category.

A team of Becker College and Emerson College students won the College Beta/Near Release Category with OBIO, a game in which you guide your bots through cyberspace, solve puzzles, eliminate viruses and save the internet. OBIO will be released for iOS, Android, PC and Mac in April.

Bounce.wav, an arcade-style mobile game set to synthwave beats made by a team of WPI graduate students, won the College Demo/Alpha Category.

Winning the High School Category was Green Ninja, a team of two students from Millbury (MA) Memorial Jr./Sr. High School.

Other Category Runner-Up honors went to:

  • Serious: MadUnd3ad Studios from Northeastern with Monsters and Memories.
  • Indie Beta/Near Release: Witching Hour with Connexi.
  • College Demo/Alpha:  Sound Lemmings Studio from Northeastern and Tufts University with Node and Dog Squad from Smith College and Hampshire College with Pickup Pup.
  • College Beta/Near Release: Blue Drop Games from Northeastern with Before Common Era (B.C.E.) and Jaderain Studios from Becker with Don’t Shoot Us.

Sound Lemmings Studio also earned Best Design and Balls, another game by WPI graduate students, earned Best Paper Prototype.

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2017 MassDiGI Game Challenge – Results – 2/25/17

Quick post, more to follow soon.

GC17 – Winners!

  • GRAND PRIZE WINNER – May’s Journey
  • High school – Green Ninja – Winner
  • College/Univ Alpha – Bounce.wav – Winner, Node – Runner-Up, Pickup Pup – 2nd Runner-Up
  • College/Univ Beta – OBIO – Winner, B.C.E. – Runner-Up, Don’t Shoot Us – 2nd Runner-Up
  • Indie Alpha – Cede – Winner, Salad Hunt – Runner-Up
  • Indie Beta – Kill the Old Gods – Winner, Connexi – Runner-Up
  • Serious – May’s Journey – Winner, Monsters and Memories – Runner-Up
  • Best Art – Salad Hunt
  • Best Audio – Salad Hunt
  • Best Design – Node
  • Best Tech – Cede
  • Best Business Model – Cede
  • <Bonus award> Best Paper Prototype – Balls

GC17 – Finalists!

Game Team Category
May’s Journey WPI/NU Small Squares Serious
Monsters and Memories NU MadUnd3ad Studios Serious
LangQuest Desert Fathers Serious
Kill the Old Gods Weeping Witch Studios Indie Beta
Connexi Witching Hour Indie Beta
Cede BareHand Indie Alpha
Salad Hunt Salad Hunters Indie Alpha
Trianglism Cat the Coolest Indie Alpha
Green Ninja Millbury HS Banzai Games High School
OBIO Becker, Emerson Team TATR College/Univ Beta
Before Common Era (B.C.E.) NU Blue Drop Games College/Univ Beta
Don’t Shoot Us Becker Jaderain Studios College/Univ Beta
Node NU, Tufts Sound Lemmings Studios College/Univ Alpha
Bounce.wav WPI Team Bounce.wav College/Univ Alpha
Pickup Pup Smith, Hampshire Dog Squad College/Univ Alpha
Rune Run Becker Cosmic Salt College/Univ Alpha

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Message: No matter where they call home – 2/1/17

Last Friday, the President of the United States signed an executive order that blocks entry to the country for refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. This executive order has already disrupted the lives of a number of game developers, students and faculty across the country – and around the globe. While these events impact each individual, business, college and university in differing ways, we are committed to the pursuit of knowledge and opportunity for everyone, no matter where they call home.

We do not yet know the full ramifications of the executive order and subsequent decisions by federal judges, but we support those affected. Community and diversity are among our core values and are integral to our commitment to inclusion and respect for all people. These principles are most important in times of strife, and we must not abandon them.

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2017 MassDiGI Game Challenge registration and SIP application period open – 1/2/17

2017 MassDiGI Game Challenge registration and SIP application period open

By Tim Loew, executive director, MassDiGI

It is really hard to believe that 2017 will mark our sixth year running the Game Challenge and Summer Innovation Program. Time sure does fly.

IMG_8777Over the years at the Game Challenge we have seen some amazing game concepts and titles near-release from a range of indies, pros and students of all sorts. And, sponsors, mentors, speakers, volunteers and judges have helped make it all happen. Thanks again to everyone involved, we couldn’t do it without your support – especially, Microsoft New England for providing such great space each year.

That said, we expect this year’s Game Challenge to be better than ever and we have tweaked a number of things which will be noticeable to veteran competitors at the event. With only 40 slots available, team registration will go fast so if you’re an indie, college, university or high school team, sign up sooner rather than later. See you on February 24 and 25 in Cambridge.

Abby Jackson

Of course, if you’re looking for a summer internship we think SIP is something special. SIP is open to students who will be entering their sophomore, junior or senior year (and graduate students, too).

The application process is very competitive. For example, last year 216 students attending 66 different colleges and universities from around the world applied for the 24 available slots. The SIP17 application period is currently open. The program runs from May 16 to August 13, 2017 in Worcester. Click here for more information and to apply.

 

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MassDiGI granted Collaborative Workspace award – 12/15/16

MassDiGI granted Collaborative Workspace award 

By Tim Loew, executive director, MassDiGI

file_0massdev00MassDiGI is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a Collaborative Workspace Program grant from MassDevelopment to be used for core networking equipment in our New Ventures Center (NVC) at 80 William St. in Worcester. The NVC, a community-facing business assistance center for interactive media and game development students and entrepreneurs, is currently under renovation and scheduled to open in summer/fall 2017.

The $50,000 grant was one of 23 awarded by the Baker-Polito Administration to strengthen community-based innovation and entrepreneurship in the Commonwealth. The awards will go to support the physical infrastructure to supports the growth of new entrepreneurial ventures, while spurring innovation and job creation at the local level.

Read the official press release here, MassLive’s story here and WBJ’s story here.

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GAME LAUNCH Takeover Trail: The world is yours – 11/15/16

Takeover Trail: The world is yours

By Timothy Loew, executive director, MassDiGI

filett_000Takeover Trail, a free, fun, strategy game about world domination, is available for download now on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The mobile game was created during the 2016 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Sarah Spiers from Emerson College, Ian Clinkenbeard and Erica Lyons from Becker, Prisyafandiafif Charifa from NYU, Conor Canavan from LYIT (Ireland), Elizabeth Lanahan from RISD and Joe Marchuk from Berklee College of Music.

Working over the summer, the team produced a beta/near-release version of the game – watch the trailer here. From there, we brought the game into our LiveStudio program at Becker during the fall ’16 semester. Through LiveStudio, more students across a range of disciplines had roles in polishing the game and getting it ready to launch. For a roster of all the contributors to the game, check out the credit roll. You can download Takeover Trail today for iOS and Android.

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GAME LAUNCH Smash Crusaders breaks out – 11/11/16

Smash Crusaders breaks out

By Timothy Loew, executive director, MassDiGI

smashcrusadersSmash Crusaders, a free and fun mobile game, is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The title, a Breakout-meets-endless-runner game, was created during the 2016 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Sam Luangkhot from Smith College, J Tuason from RIT, Marc McCrevan from Becker College, Andrew Barrett from Northeastern University, Liam Doherty from Letterkenny Institute of Technology (Ireland) and Joe Marchuk from Berklee College of Music.

Working over the summer, the SIP team produced a beta/near-release version of the game – watch the trailer here. From there, we brought the game into our LiveStudio program at Becker during the fall ’16 semester. Through LiveStudio, more students across a range of disciplines had roles in polishing the game, originally known as Slime Break, and getting it ready to launch. For a roster of all the contributors to the game check out the credit roll. You can download Smash Crusaders today for iOS and Android.

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MassDiGI wins EforAll Summit Innovation Award – 11/7/16

MassDiGI wins EforAll Summit Innovation Award

By MassDiGI Communications Team

EforAll Summit

EforAll Summit – Robert E. Johnson, PhD, Monty Sharma and Tim Loew

MassDiGI was honored with the first-ever Innovation Award at the 2016 Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Summit in Lowell, Mass. on November 3. EforAll is an organization that works with mid-size cities to spur economic growth and create social impact within the community. This international conference brings together city leaders, investors, foundations, organizations, and schools committed to entrepreneurship and social impact in mid-sized cities. Summit speakers included entrepreneurs Ted Leonsis, owner of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals and former senior executive at AOL, and Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe’s.

Speaking about the award, David Parker, executive director of EforAll said, “The Innovation Award seeks to recognize a program that’s doing something different to spur economic development in mid-sized cities. MassDiGI’s nomination stood out immediately and EforAll is proud to recognize their innovative efforts of utilizing the digital and video games ecosystem to foster economic growth.”

Since 2011 MassDiGI at Becker College has been a state-wide driver for entrepreneurship, academic collaboration, and economic improvement in the digital and video game industries across the Commonwealth. Remarking on the award, MassDiGI Advisory Board chair, Becker President Robert E. Johnson said he was “so proud of all MassDiGI and Becker have accomplished over the years. It is great to receive the recognition of such an important entrepreneurial group like EforAll. It really affirms the mission of MassDiGI and Becker to equip future innovators.”

MassDiGI Executive Director Tim Loew accepted the Innovation Award. “Our work with entrepreneurs and students over the years has been rewarding and humbling in its own right – and being recognized for that is very meaningful,” said Loew.

Loew participated in a panel at the Summit entitled “How to Keep/Attract Young People in Mid-Sized Cities.” Panel discussion focused on methods that cities, organizations, and colleges can deploy to retain an energized group of young people looking to make a difference. Fellow panelists included Andy Vargas from EforAll, Justin Kang from City Awake, the civic innovation lab of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Karina Leblanc from the University of New Brunswick’s Pond-Deshpande Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Chris Miller of the St. Louis-based Mission Center L3C which is an incubator and accelerator for high-impact social enterprises.

Alongside MassDiGI, Kyla Pacheco of Action! Worcester won the Top Entrepreneur Award which gave Worcester a large presence at the Summit. Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. stated, “Entrepreneurship has played a pivotal role in Worcester’s past and continues to do so today. And, with the award-winning efforts of MassDiGI and Action! Worcester I look forward to what our future holds.”

Reposted from becker.edu with additions, minor edits.

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GAME LAUNCH Comet Cats purrs into action – 10/18/16

Comet Cats purrs into action

By Timothy Loew, executive director, MassDiGI

Comet Cats, a free and fun mobile game in which you stack cats to reach towering new heights is now available to download on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The game was created during the 2016 MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP) by students Tyler Haddad and Ben Page from Becker, Joe Marchuk from Berklee, Sienna Cornish from Hampshire, Fury Sheron from Tufts, Abby Jackson from Wheaton (MA) and Graham Held from WPI.

Working over that summer, the team produced a playable beta of the game – watch the trailer here. From there, we brought the game into our LiveStudio program at Becker during the fall ’16 semester. Through LiveStudio, more students across a range of disciplines had roles in polishing the game and getting it ready to launch. For a roster of all the contributors to the game check out the credit roll. You can download it today for iOS and Android.

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