‘Space’ Play: SEED Students Create Mobile Game

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This past summer, nine local high school students created a new mobile video game as a part of SEED, a two-week intensive workshop hosted by the Department of Art & Art History.

The game, “Lazers in Space,” is an homage to the ’80s arcade classic, “Space Invaders,” and is available on Google Play (for Android smart phone users) and iTunes. Graduate Teaching Assistant Joshua Wilson, who oversaw the project and workshop, said students jumped at the chance to make a video game.

“We took the ‘Space invaders’ template, which made the overall design and mechanics a bit easier,” Wilson said. “Students used graph paper to make pixel art and created the characters you see in the game. They decided on the mechanics of each character and the power-ups. It was a very democratic process.”

Wilson, who is pursuing his MFA in visual communication (with an emphasis on “interactive scene, simulation and game design,” he said) and is slated to graduate in May 2015, handled the coding and programming necessary to make the game come to life. SEED students created the visual components, tested the game, and helped Wilson and assistant Houston Hardaway create a unique user experience.

“A big misconception about game design is that it’s fun and easy,” he said. “In reality, it’s really hard and takes a long time to do. When you’re working with a game, art and functionality intertwine. It’s a challenging way to look at it and students got excited about that.”

This is the second video game SEED students have created since the program’s inception. In 2012, students created a desktop game but it was not available to the public. Last year, students created a comic book and 3-D models printed on the department’s new 3-D printer.

Wilson said “Lazers in Space” has garnered several hundred downloads and the reviews have been positive. Popularity for the game has grown through word-of-mouth as contributing students show off their work to classmates. The game also allows players to post their high scores, and Wilson has seen his students’ names pop up on the leaderboard.

“One of my students has a ridiculously high score,” he said. “He might be playing it a bit too much.”

For more information and pictures of the game development, visit the program’s website.

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 (By James Dunning/COLA Communications, jdunning@uta.edu)

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