A game designed by a University 0f Wisconsin-Stout December graduate brought home a second-place national award at the Intel University Games Showcase and Expo in San Francisco Thursday, March 22.
Sun of the Children, largely created by Hue Vang, Two Rivers, who graduated in December with a Master of Fine Arts in design, won the second place Best Visual Quality award.
Two other students, including Vang’s brother Chuewa, of Two Rivers, a computer science-game design student, and Kayla Techmeier, of De Pere, a game design-art student, helped with the programming and 3D modeling/animation, respectively. A fourth member of the team, Sou Yang, who is not a UW-Stout student, helped with the game’s music.
Last year, UW-Stout’s student-designed video game Everend brought home one of three national awards, Best Visual Quality. As a result, the university earned an automatic berth at this year’s showcase, which was by invitation only. Hue Vang also was on last year’s Everend team.
"Awards like this are gained through a lot of hard work by the students and rigorous preparation from the faculty,” said Associate Professor Andrew Williams, director of the game design-art program who advised the team. “Placing for Best Visual Quality at the Intel University Games Showcase for a second year in a row is a testament to the strength of UW-Stout’s approach to game design and development. Our collaborative model between the Master of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Science degree programs mimics production practices of the game industry and allows our students to excel not only at hard skills but also critical soft skills, such as team management, that can be applied everywhere."
Dave Beck, director of the School of Art and Design, said recognizes the high quality of the programs at UW-Stout.
“The award from Intel – recognizing the high quality of artistic excellence that is infused within our Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs at Stout – continues to echo that our focus on fine art in our students’ professional design education is a winning combination,” Beck said. “Students participating from the Bachelor of Fine Arts in game design, the Master of Fine Arts in design and the Bachelor of Science in computer science on this project only reinforces the polytechnic mission of UW-Stout and how the School of Art and Design is an integral player in that cross-disciplinary and hands-on approach to applied learning.”
The Sun of the Children game is based on a mix of mythology and culture. It looks at the story between two beings, one made of stardust and the other of grass and aquatic material. The beings are separated and united at the end.
“As the characters get further apart the world becomes desaturated, and when they’re together the world is vibrant. It about visuals and exploring the ideas of longing and using color and music as a way to express that,” Williams said.
There were 13 universities in this year’s competition, Williams said. UW-Stout was the only school from the Midwest. The Intel competition coincided with the international Game Developers Conference March 19-23. From UW-Stout, more than 50 people attended, mostly students and three professors. One group traveled by train and took part in Train Jam, a 52-hour game design challenge.
Williams was invited to make two presentations, one about using art history methodologies to analyze video games and another about the importance of game history. In 2017, Williams’ book “History of Digital Games: Developments in Art, Design and Interaction” was published by CRC Press.
UW-Stout’s game design programs were named a national co-champion in 2013 at the Entertainment Software Association competition in Los Angeles. The programs, one based in art and another with a computer science focus, were ranked 24th nationally in 2018 by Princeton Review and the graduate program was ranked 18.
UW-Stout graduate Hue Vang, at center, shows the trophy for second place at the Intel University Game Showcase and Expo in San Francisco, with Kayla Techmeier, a UW-Stout game design-art student, and Vang’s brother, Chuewa Vang, a UW-Stout computer science-game design student who helped with the game.
Sun of the Children game.