Come Get Your Game On at The Woz

The Traverse City Film Festival has more to offer than just a traditional film experience. Go beyond the screen to the place where art, science and technology come together at The Woz. The game design program at Michigan State University has developed a showcase of immersive, educational and entertaining video games for you to explore.

The Woz opens its doors on Wednesday, July 26 from 6-9 p.m. at Hotel Indigo. It will then be open from Thursday to Saturday, July 27-29, from noon-8 p.m. and Sunday, July 30, from noon-3 p.m. Visitors can play mobile games developed for smartphones and tablets, explore virtual reality experiences on the HTC Vive and play with friends in a number of multiplayer interactive experiences.

William Jeffrey and Brian Winn, both faculty in ComArtSci’s Department of Media and Information, have assembled the showcase from student-created work coming out of the MSU game design and development program and from projects in the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab.

Jeffrey and Winn are most excited about one of the newest games from the GEL Lab, called Plunder Panic.

“Plunder Panic is a swashbuckling, multiplayer arcade game where two rival crews battle for supremacy on the high seas,” said Winn. “Defeat the enemy captain, scuttle their ship, plunder enough booty or end up shark bait in Davy Jones’ Locker.”

This game can support up to ten players all at once. Players can win the game by defeating the captain of the rival team, plundering enough gold to sail away or sinking their opponent’s ship.

“Plunder Panic has multiple ways to win, meaning you always have to keep an eye patch out for what the other team is doing,” said Jeffrey. “We think the game is a blast to play and hope that the visitors of The Woz love it too.”

Another one of the many projects being showcased is called Spartio, which was created by students during the spring semester and polished in the GEL Lab during the summer in anticipation for The Woz.

“Spartio is a game that utilizes the Microsoft Kinect camera system for player input,” said Winn. “Stretch your arms, rotate your body and clap your hands to help Sparty avoid falling from platforms, navigate past laser beams and leap across giant pits.”

Virtual reality experiences were a big hit at last years’ Woz and this year there will be several new and unique immersive experiences including the Virtual Vineyard, a grant-funded project from the GEL Lab.

“In Virtual Vineyard, you can explore a vineyard in virtual reality, interact with winemaking equipment and learn all about the winemaking process,” said Winn. “We will also be showcasing a collection of entertaining VR experiences created during the spring in our new Building Virtual Worlds course.”

Over the past year, students and faculty in the game design program have developed a number of new projects across a variety of platforms. They have created mobile and desktop games, virtual reality experiences and even games controlled by a camera with Microsoft Kinect.

“There is such a wide variety of games to play, across all different styles and genres,” said Jeffrey. “We truly think there is something here for everyone to enjoy. Our students have been working hard to create games for others to enjoy, viewing The Woz as a great event to showcase their work and get it out in the world.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets