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IU students form independent game studio


By Tori Fater



An IU club is helping students interested in video game design create games and collaborate with other passionate students.

Hoosier Games was founded in 2010 and acts as an independent studio for creating video games.

Members have a variety of academic backgrounds, from fine arts to informatics. Edward Castronova, staff adviser and associate professor of telecommunications,  said this is necessary because games require not just programmers, but designers, producers, visual artists and audio artists.

Castronova said he knew several students interested in a career in video game design but did not know how to get involved with a company.

“Here in Indiana we don’t have much of a game industry,” Castronova said. “Most of the big companies are on the West Coast.”

He spoke to people in the industry who said the degrees students earned and the universities they attended were not as important as their experience creating games.

“The real essence of it is that you have to learn to work on a creative team,” Castronova said. “It’s a special kind of production process. With a film, your team kind of gets strung out. There’s a team that does pre-production, and a team that gets the shots and a team that does editing. Maybe one or two people are there for the whole thing, the director or someone. But with a game, the team continues to iterate and change the project as it goes along.”

Castronova said there are three basic roles within a game’s creative team. There are the production designers, who create the world of the game and plan the story and characters. There are the artists, who bring characters and settings to life visually. Finally, there are “coders,” who write the computer program that allows the game to work.

Freshman Kevin Chen said he joined Hoosier Games just last week. He is a game designer, working on a game called “Pop!” which he said in an email will be released for iPhones and Androids by the end of the semester.

“What interests me the most about game design is the level of detail one must go through to design a game,” Chen said. “You can start off with an idea, but you have to know and imagine how it will exactly be programmed and how it will look.”

Platformer from Hell is a game designed by a Hoosier Games team, which has already been released. It is a sidescrolling platformer game and is available on Xbox Live.

Other teams, such as Chen’s, are currently working on games that will be released on various platforms, from Xbox Live to the iTunes app store.

“I think that through this club, and the projects we put out, we’ll create opportunities such as internships at gaming studios or publishers,” Chen said. “Even the opportunities to go to game developer conventions would provide great networking opportunities for club members.”

Castronova said members of Hoosier Games teams are not part of this club only as a hobby.

“It’s a vocational club,” he said. “They’re trying to learn a craft.”

Senior Afshin Peymani is working as an artist on a puzzle game called “Night Terror.” He said having a completed product to present to game companies will be useful, but he joined Hoosier Games to hone his own skills as a game artist.

“I enjoy the process of taking blank canvas and making it something that’s interactive and captivating for all the players,” Peymani said. “When you’re playing the game, you don’t actually notice how much work goes into the smallest details.”

Peymani said he hopes to work in animation at a production company after graduation. Chen said he is also interested in continuing his passion for game design after school by starting a game studio and designing games for people to enjoy.

“I view video games as a unique art form of which the player takes the role of a character and relives the story as them,” Chen said. “I want to be able to create that kind of experience for those who play my games.”

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