MassDiGI’s Summer Innovation Program Students Build Games for Publication

Published on Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Media Coverage: 

Worcester Magazine

Charter TV3

For 11 weeks this summer, 22 students from 11 different colleges and universities built four video games as part of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) Summer Innovation Program (SIP). With guidance from professional staff and industry mentors, SIP teams were responsible for all the work required to successfully launch their games in the market.

“We are extremely proud of the students who took part in this competitive and intensive summer program,” said Paul Cotnoir, Ph.D., director of Becker’s design programs. “The entrepreneurial outlook they brought to bear, and the creative ways they applied the skill sets learned in the classroom, is truly impressive. One of the goals of Becker’s game design program is to teach our students how to find, frame, and address problems not yet known–the very essence of their success this summer.”

At the SIP Open House on August 7, attendees met the students and were among the first to play their games, which MassDiGI expects will be commercially published this fall. The games include:

Yuka Ninohira ’16, an Interactive Media Game Design major at Becker, took part in the SIP for the first time. She worked as the art director and UI UX designer for Many Mini Things.

“It was really a unique experience that I know I won’t get elsewhere,” she said. “All the other internships I applied for this summer would have been cool, but I wouldn’t have been immersed in the entire production line the way I was in SIP. We had the opportunity to talk out our ideas, express different points of view, and come up with an even better idea to create the game. All of our efforts as a team were designed to make the final product the best game that we could make this summer.”

MassDiGI’s SIP is the largest internship program of its kind in the country. This year over 150 top game development students from 31 colleges and universities applied for one of the 22 internship positions. Ultimately, students from Becker, Berklee College of Music, Hampshire College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mt. Holyoke College, Northeastern University, Rhode Island School of Design, Smith College, Tufts University, UMass Lowell, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute were selected. The program has grown significantly since its first year; in the three years since SIP was created, the applications have increased exponentially, from 50 to 80 and to 150.

As in past years, SIP students were housed by Becker College and earned a stipend for their work. But that wasn’t Ninohira’s favorite part: it was the teamwork. “We got to live with fellow developers in one hall, which created a community setting for us,” she said. “Since we weren’t all working on the same game, we were able to give each other feedback, which helped me a lot when I was starting to run into obstacles.”

Ninohira said that because the students in the program all had different backgrounds, skill levels and skill sets, she felt that the diversity enhanced her experience. “I felt like I was learning something new every hour I spent with any of them,” she said of her fellow gamers. “School projects are cool when you’re done, but most of the time they aren’t on par with the quality of games that get published,” Ninohira added. “To actually have a game shipped and go through the 11-week process with 40 hours every week put into making the game was great. I hope to gain more of in the coming years before I graduate.”

For more information on Becker’s interactive media program, visit the website.