Student-developed “Pressure Switch” character shoots to heal

Published on Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Among leading-edge releases from top video game companies and independent developers at PAX East 2013–the largest games show on the East Coast–one will be unique: a cutting-edge game developed by students from the top-ranked interactive media program at Becker College.

“Pressure Switch,” is an unusual first-person shooter, which features a super soldier who shoots to heal. His mission is to reverse a viral infiltration in a military complex, and the purpose of shooting enemies is to “recode,” or cure them, not to kill them. Yet, each shot from the prosthetic arm weapon with which surgeons fit him exacts a price in his own life energy.

Senior Anthony Botelho, of Dighton, Mass., is the lead developer on “Pressure Switch.” Botelho built the game “from scratch,” instead of using a game engine. A game development and programming major, Botelho has been working on “Pressure Switch” with three 2012 Becker game program graduates who are currently adjunct faculty at Becker.

“As the faculty mentor, exhibit designer, and booth game developer for four years now, I have been fortunate enough to witness first-first-hand the increasingly positive impact Becker College’s presence at PAX East has had on the program,” said Professor of Game Design Terrasa Ulm. “While initially we were encouraged by the networking opportunities within the industry and the large number of prospective students who approached our booth, eager to learn more, we have discovered even greater benefits follow us back to campus. Students are coming into the program freshman year, and working to hone their game development skills, select their concentrations, network with their peers, and seek out mentorship from faculty and MassDigi from day one! This level of passion, dedication, and focus from underclassmen is something which is difficult to inspire with coursework alone and strengthens our program as whole, ten-fold.”

2013 is the fourth year that Becker College has been one of only a few colleges exhibiting at PAX East (since its first year in 2010), The College has constructed an elaborate booth—which draws visitors into the world of “Pressure Switch”—complete with a number of flat screens to play the featured game; computer stations to play additional student-built games and view other student work; and a live interactive version of “Pressure Switch” for visitors to play with students and faculty at the booth, and each other across the exhibition floor, and win prizes.

Becker College and the students and faculty of its game programs have received much recent recognition, from The Princeton Review (ranked one of the “Top Schools to Study Game Design” for four consecutive years), Animation Career Review (ranked 23 on the Top 100 schools for game design and animation) and Game Players Review (ranked number 7 in North America). In addition, four Becker student teams earned top placement in the 2013 MassDiGI Game Challenge, and Becker students were on the development team for the emergency room simulation game, “On Call,” which was awarded Best in Show at the Serious Games and Virtual Environments Showcase at the 2013 SSIH International Meeting for Simulation in Healthcare.

A leading advocate for the Massachusetts video game industry, Becker College was designated the home of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) in 2011, a first-in-the-nation, statewide center that creates opportunities for industry-leading game design companies to work with Massachusetts faculty and students on game development projects and curriculum enhancements.