President Destler becomes a ‘banjo hero’

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A. Sue Weisler

RIT President Bill Destler is now a

RIT President Bill Destler is one of the world’s foremost collectors of antique banjos. His collection spans from the 1840s to the 1920s.

Now he is bringing his collection into the 21st century with the help of some creative students in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. Destler is now the proud owner of “Oh-No Banjo,” a simulated banjo game based on the popular Guitar Hero music-video game.

The game was created in a game design and development program class led by Professor David Schwartz. The student team consisted of Michael Ey, Dominic D’Aniello, Sela Davis, Alex Lifschitz and Joe Pietruch. The game is both PC and Xbox 360 compatible.

Destler played the games “easy” version during the banjo’s unveiling.

“We wanted to have some fun introducing President Destler to our work in game development, and hit upon the idea of using a game similar to popular music games, but with an input device that resembled a banjo,” says Andy Phelps, chair of RIT’s interactive games and media department. “But our students really took it to the extreme, getting down into the details, and re-building an entire engine from scratch around the picking and strumming that is core to banjo playing, while still getting the entertainment experience just right. Trying off-the-wall ideas and developing experimental interfaces is exactly what the game design and development program is all about: creating the games and entertainment experiences of tomorrow.”