March 23, 2023 at 11:30 a.m.

Students showcase creativity, technical skill at Global Game Jam

Students showcase creativity, technical skill at Global Game Jam
Students showcase creativity, technical skill at Global Game Jam

By Renee Draszkiewicz-

In partnership with the 2023 Global Game Jam, the School District of Rhinelander Community Education Program, ArtStart, and Nicolet College recently hosted a "Game Design and Development Lab" for middle and high school students.

Dozens of students age 11-17 participated in the event where they were able to create and develop art and games using technology.

Inspired by the Nordic Game Jam, this event involves individuals gathering at a particular location to work collaboratively.

Participants are given a limited amount of time to innovate and experiment in the programming and design world.

Some of the students focused on more traditional tactile games with some familiar design elements.

For example, Henry Bonardelli and his partner created a game called "Bug Bowl" which offered a chess-like experience.

Others took the leap into the deep world of coding and made computer games. The UnderRoot, a game designed by a team of four students, was an undertaking that took almost a dozen hours of time for the team to put together in the One Prospect Digital Media Center at the high school.

Main creator Owen Evers explained the game.

"[It is] from Dark Souls; the Soulsborne series which took about 6 hours to make," he said.

Rhinelander was one of 15 schools participating in Global Game Jam which demonstrates for students like Evers that it is possible to make a career out of creating games.

"I like the challenges it presents to me while I'm making it," Evers said of game design.

On hand to offer guidance to the would-be game designers was programmer and game designer Jeremy Nikolai of Stevens Point, who made the argument that with technology integrated into pretty much every field, there is no way this field would be declining anytime soon.

Melinda Childs from ArtStart, who helped organize the event, was pleased to find an expert in the field who has made a career out of his passion right here in the Northwoods.

Global Game Jam is going on its 14th year.

At its peak, it had 48,000 participants across 900+ sites in 118 countries making 9,600 games.

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