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Studentís story: What I learned at the MassDiGI Game Challenge

Posted by Michael Warshaw  March 6, 2013 03:00 PM

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By Ryan Casey, student, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Ed. Note: The MassDiGI Game Challenge is a pitch competition designed to help indie and student game development entrepreneurs hone their ideas and showcase the rapidly expanding game industry cluster in the region. Forty-four teams of indie game developers and student teams from around New England competed in a sold-out event from March 1-2 at NERD, the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center. A panel of game industry veterans served as judges for the competition.

Let's be clear: we knew from the beginning that the MassDiGI Game Challenge presented an unprecedented opportunity to my team as we worked on our game. We knew we could show off to other game developers. We also knew we had a shot at some pretty great prizes.

Who doesn't want some help finishing their game along with a healthy bit of cash to boot? What I didn't realize was how much more we would get out of the event.

I was there as the team leader for four students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute who have worked on our game, Pandora, since last August. I was happy to see friends and fellow game developers from around the area, and I took this as yet another chance to socialize for a little while. I was pleased there were so many talks about the nuanced art of the game pitch, how to deal with game publishers, and ways to better market your game Ė all subjects that are not included in the game design curriculum of the schools I know.

Then there were the mentors, real video game professionals that were available to us budding developers. I can't express how helpful they were. My group had the opportunity to speak with four game developers already established in the Boston area, each with a different take on the perfect way to pitch our game. Having access to them, with their direct, personal experience in the games industry, was invaluable.

Thumbnail image for pandora.JPG
The inevitable moment eventually came: time for us to make our pitch to the judges in the preliminary round. As daunting as it was, we presented with as much confidence and charisma as we could muster. Then it was out of our hands. While waiting to hear the list of finalists, I spoke with some of the other groups in both the college and indie developer categories. The creative energy and sheer excitement were tangible.

I also talked with some of the companies who had come to see the talent on display. I was thrilled to hear that many of the games had made such a positive impression. They seemed keen to recruit some of that talent, and I know I wasn't the only student who was more than happy to entertain the idea.

Then I heard Pandora listed among the college level finalists! We all gave final pitches that we had been refining for two days, thanks to the conversations we were able to have at the Game Challenge. In the end, the winners were all truly great games.

That's what really impressed me. Everything at the Game Challenge was so new, unique, and creative. Whether student or indie developer, the passion on display was incredible, and I know that we all will be back next year with even better games in tow.

Ryan Casey is a graduating senior studying Interactive Media & Game Development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Screenshot above is from Pandora.

The State of Play blog, organized by MassDiGI, features posts by digital and video game industry insiders writing about creativity, innovation, research, and development in the Massachusetts digital entertainment and apps sectors. MassDiGI, based at Becker College, is a statewide center for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship, and economic development across the local games ecosystem. Follow along @Mass_DiGI.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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MassDiGI 8-24 287w872.jpgThe State of Play, organized by MassDiGI, features stories by digital and video game developers and business insiders. Follow along @mass_digi.

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