Indiana Daily Student

Game for a grade

On Tuesday afternoon,graduate students Dan Wolfe and Cesar Kobashikawa hovered over a computer to work out details on their upcoming video game. Kobashikawa clutched his notebook that held the detailed profiles of the game's characters. These students can legitimately claim they are doing their homework.\nWolfe and Kobashikawa are students in the Masters of Immersive Media Environments program. Wolfe is working on his thesis about online game development communities, a combination of online groups, forums, blogs, wikis, tutorials and Web sites where programmers, artists and designers can come together to talk about games.\nWolfe released his first game, Asteroid Run, at the beginning of this school year. Asteroid Run is a 3-D racing game set in an outer space asteroid belt. \n"It is a small game that took about two to three weeks to make," Wolfe said in an e-mail message. "Since its release, it has been downloaded over 120,000 times from my Web site, been the 'Featured Widget' on www.apple.com and won an honorable mention in the Unity Dashboard Widget Challenge."\nWolfe recently created a special version of the game exclusively for Mac Creative magazine, an Apple magazine that has a print-run of approximately 40,000. Asteroid Run is available for download for free from www.newoldskool.com, Wolfe's personal Web site, or on www.apple.com under the software section.\nWolfe and Kobashikawa are working with fellow MIME students Victor Chelaru, Marc Carlton and Don Mitchell on BugWarz, a 2-D fighting game based on bugs with a hip-hop theme and an evolution system that lets players evolve and improve their fighting bugs over time. Wolfe expects BugWarz to be released early this spring.\n"I am also working with Mark Carlton on a maze game set in Ancient Greece," Wolfe said. "It is still in the early stages and is estimated to be completed in summer 2006."\nAccording to its Web site, the MIME program investigates the social and cultural roles of old media and engages in the development of new media for entertainment, learning, commerce and communication. \nWolfe said about 13 students are admitted to the program each year and of those, about seven have a primary focus on games. The others are more interested in areas such as video, animation, Web design or music.\nWolfe said he can't pinpoint how he became interested in developing video games.\n"I've always been interested in all sorts of things. Art, physics, history, philosophy, math -- they're all interesting," Wolfe said. "Making games just seems like a way to bring all these seemingly unrelated things together."\nKobashikawa, who works on the artwork for BugWarz, said he has trouble finding specific classes related to technical aspects of creating video games. For instance, he is unable to take a specific class related to animation. \nStill, he said classes like Intro to 3-D Digital Modeling/Animation and Intro to Interactive Media Design, available through the telecommunications department, might be helpful for students interested in learning about video games. These classes are open to undergraduate students.\n"Classes here are more related to the development of the overall game," Kobashikawa said. "It's hard to find specific classes."\nWolfe said other colleges offer instruction on every specific aspect of video games. He said classes at IU are less technical and have more of an emphasis on creativity and design.\nWolfe received his undergraduate degree in mathematics and received a minor in computer science. He said many different fields of specialty relate to games. \n"Physics and computer science help in the programming aspects of making a game," Wolfe said. "Math helps in balancing game-play and making rules and fine art is obviously helpful in just making a game look good."\nWolfe said he hopes he can make games as his career, though he doesn't want to work for a large company like Microsoft. He said he wants to own his own company.\n"I like having creative control," Wolfe said. "It can be difficult to manage everything, but it keeps things exciting and fresh"

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