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A video game designed by a group of University of Wisconsin-Stout students has been chosen as a finalist in a national collegiate competition.
The Entertainment Software Association named the UW-Stout entry, Flash Frozen, as one of its five finalists out of more than 400 entries submitted to the first E3 College Game Competition.
The finalists were announced in an ESA news release Wednesday, May 22. ESA, a trade association based in Washington, D.C., represents U.S. video and computer game publishers.
The other finalists are from Brigham Young University, University of Chicago, Savannah College of Art and Design and Alamo Colleges – Northwest Vista College.
The finalists will display their games at the E3 national trade show June 11-13 in Los Angeles. The show is considered the premier world event for video and computer games, attracting 200 companies and 45,000 attendees. The winner will be announced at the show.
“As anyone interested in video games will tell you, E3 is a huge deal. To be able to present at the largest video game industry event in the world is so amazing that it just feels unreal,” said Hassan Javaid, of Eau Claire, one of the student designers.
Javaid was the lead writer, a level designer and 3D artist for the game. He also produced a five-minute documentary, which can be seen in the “About” section of the game’s website.
Flash Frozen is a survival horror game. Players are trapped on an iceberg in a haunted, shipwrecked vessel. Players must escape the ship while surviving the harsh, frozen environment and its many dangers.
"One of the things I am most proud of with this game is that we were able to create and establish a mood. That is one of the biggest challenges we faced all year," said Keith Catalano, of Green Bay, the lead artist.
Sam Armstrong, of Minneapolis, created the concept for the game and was the lead designer. Josh Herbert, of Onalaska, was the lead programmer.
A total of 12 students developed Flash Frozen in the senior 3D Game Design class taught by Diane Christie and Dave Beck. Christie is director of the game design and development undergraduate program; Beck is the program’s art coordinator.
“It is a remarkable milestone for a game to be in the top five and be created by students from a program that is only four years old,” Christie said.
Eight of the 12 students who created Flash Frozen are artists and four are programmers. Students in UW-Stout’s program can concentrate on art or computer science aspects of video and computer games.
Along with Javaid and Catalano, the other artists are:
• Reece Blaiser, of Hudson
• Brandy Boothby, of Camp Douglas
• Cody Jernander, of Elcho
• Ryan Klauer, of Winneconne
• Connor VanDyke, of Eagan, Minn.
• Grace Zwiefelhofer, of Hudson
Along with Armstrong and Herbert, the other programmers are:
• Joe Blumberg, of St. Paul
• Chase Meyers, of Necedah
“We are extremely pleased with the impressive array of talent demonstrated by the E3 college competition submissions, and our chosen finalists represent the most promising and innovative submissions as determined by our industry veteran judges,” said Rich Taylor, senior vice president of communications and industry affairs at ESA.
In March, UW-Stout’s game design and development program was named one of the top 30 in the U.S. and Canada by Princeton Review. It was the only program in Wisconsin or Minnesota that made the list.
Funding to help the 12 students and two professors attend the E3 conference has been provided by UW-Stout Provost’s Office; College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; and Research Services.
To learn more about the game design and development program, click here.
To see the ESA news release about the E3 competition, click here.