During the winter intersession at CSI, many students utilized down time in front of their gaming systems perfecting their video game skills. For a collection of students at CSI, however, the winter session was a chance for them to actually create video games of their own, a theme of the Computer Science department’s first-ever Game Jam event, where students worked solo or in teams at creating an actual video game, from concept to creation, in just one week.

Wai Lim Chan organized and took 1st Place

Interested in game development himself, the idea for Game Jam was hatched by Computer Science major Wai Lim Chan ‘25, during an advisement session for the spring semester with Academic Advising /Career Manager Kristi Brescia. He then worked with classmates Prince Addo, Kayla Dinh, Andi Kolari, Isabel Loci and Savion Watson, to bring life and promote the event for students in all majors and all skill levels, to inspire ideas and creativity, create projects for résumés, and network and work alongside other students. CSI professors Tatiana Anderson, Richard Weir, and Deborah Sturm, served as judges for the event, and the teams were judged on different facets of video game creation, such as interactive game play, rules, creativity, theme, depth of play, and video presentation. Prizes were awarded courtesy of the CSI Alumni Association.

Students and alumni from across a hybrid of disciplines showed interest in the event, which saw many break out into teams and design their very own video games holding to the theme of the event, “You Only Have One.” Teams had just one week (January 17-24) to come up with a concept, design, create, and test the game and then put together presentation for the other teams and the judging panel at the Game Jam event which took place on Wednesday, January 24.

“This is the first event I’ve helped organize and I enjoyed every step of the way from structuring the event, participating in the Game Jam, and finally presenting my game,” said Chan. “The entire event unfolded splendidly! The room was full and everyone had such amazing games to show. I am very proud of this event and I am already excited for a second Game Jam.”

A total of 12 teams, comprised of 30 students and alumni, presented their beta games at the event, which ranged from multiplayer strategy, first-person shooters, and adventure concepts. Students presented on all facets of game creation and took questions from other students who were interested in the process. Although Game Jam was a competition, students were quick to share tips and tricks with one another on game creation, and are eager to work together on future projects.

Game Jam’s 2nd place team

In the end, Chan’s very own game, “One Town,” took top honors in the competition.

“It felt amazing winning first place,” he said. “I just focused on making a game I would enjoy playing with my friends and I am very glad the judges enjoyed it.”

The team of Addo, Kostandy, Conor Farrell, and Aladdin Omar grabbed second place for their game, “One Night.” Third place honors went to Omar Elgazzar and Diana Korzhenevska’s game, “Elixir Paradox.” 

Awards were also presented in the following categories: Best Beginner Project – Jayden Metellus and Zhen Wu for “Something Lurking.” Best Tech Presentation – Omar Abdelhamed for “One Survivor.” Best Use of Sound – Matthew Garcia for “One Shot,” and Best Puzzle Game – Dinh, Kolari, Watson and Steven Velez for “One Shot Assassin.”

Many of the groups plan to continue to build on their game and make them available for other students to play. Chan admits it was pretty special to take home the top prize in the first-ever event, but like most teams at Game Jam, he also knows the best is yet to come.

“My professors’ and peers’ validation gives me a lot of confidence in my game development skills. I am already planning another game to develop with a group of friends and I want to present the game during demo day.”

Game Jam’s 3rd place team

Professor Weir was happy to see so many students share the spotlight at the event. “I am continually amazed by the creativity of our students,” he said post-event. “The theme of the Game Jam was very vague, and the games each had their own unique twist on it. It is incredible seeing what was produced, especially given the times constraints.”

Professor Sturm was equally impressed, stating “I was very impressed with the scope and depth of the projects. Even beginner teams were able to put together complete games in only one week. Many of the presentations also showed a deep understanding of their code.”

“I am incredibly proud of our students’ remarkable collaboration and dedication in making Game Jam a reality,” said Brescia, who helped Chan and the students develop the event. “I was particularly inspired by the beginner group, who have never taken a game development class and fearlessly took on the challenge of participating. Witnessing them work through their fears and present their creations made the event fun and fantastic. Everyone’s enthusiasm and dedication have truly made this Game Jam a memorable success.”

Game Jam concluded the Computer Science department’s Career Ready Series of workshops during the winter intersession. Throughout this period, students actively refined their résumés, and LinkedIn accounts and applied for jobs and internships. According to Brescia, “Game Jam provided a unique opportunity for students to collaborate and network with fellow students, further enhancing their skills and possibly paving the way for a successful career in game development.”

“The only thing I enjoy more than playing games is making games,” said Chan. “I love creating games and sending them to my friends for them to play. I really want to become a game developer, I can see myself developing games for the rest of my life.”

To find out more about future Game Jam events, contact Kristi Brescia at kristi.brescia@csi.cuny.edu.