RIT Students Prove They’ve Got Game at North America’s Largest Gaming Expo

Student team among 10 finalists in independent game developer competition

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A team of students from Rochester Institute of Technology prove they know how to create award-winning game play, earning one of 10 coveted spots to showcase an independent video game at the Penny Arcade Expo, North America’s largest, most prestigious and comprehensive exposition of gaming and game culture. The Expo was held Aug. 29-31 in Seattle.

The student team submitted its video game, Impulse, to the PAX10 Challenge, a competition among independent game developers from around the world. With more than 80 submissions, a panel of experts from the gaming industry picked 10 based on criteria of playability and fun factor.

RIT students describe Impulse as an action and puzzle video game with an emphasis on magnetic and explosive forces in which the player takes command of a ball and uses direct and indirect means to navigate around the environments. To learn more about the game, visit www.impulse-game.com.

The RIT team is comprised of Dominic Holt, Joseph Plourde, Andy Ray, Paul Solt, Mike Thomas and Andrew Williams, all undergraduate students in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. They initially created Impulse for a project in their foundations of 2D graphics programming class taught by Andrew Phelps, RIT’s director of Game Design and Development.

“The PAX experience was great,” says Williams, an RIT information technology student. “RIT and Carnegie Mellon were the only two school-developed games (out of 10) to be declared a winner. The rest belong to independent developers and companies. The expo had roughly 58,500 people in attendance, and our game received a great deal of consumer and media coverage. It was an honor to be a part of the PAX 10.”

The PAX10 independent games were exhibited with commercial games developed by SONY, Microsoft, Nintendo, THQ, Blizzard, Namco and others.

Phelps says, “This is an impressive accomplishment because the RIT team competed without any commercial sponsorship or financial backing. This honor reflects well not only on RIT’s Game Design and Development curriculum in preparing students to be competitive in the industry, but also relays the creativity and innovation that are the hallmark of RIT and the Golisano College. When we think of trying to embody the spirit of creativity held forth by RIT President William Destler—this is it.”

Phelps also credits Microsoft for its support of RIT’s gaming curriculum. He notes that some of the team members have already been hired by Microsoft Games Studios, while others are pursuing careers outside game development.