Three Becker College Students Will Make a Video Game in 52 Hours’ Time in Annual Train Jam
Published on: March 15, 2019
Their conversation started off sounding like typical trip-planning. Three students sat in the Colleen Barrett Center lounge, hashing out the details of what they’d need for the trip: clothes, food, and sturdy luggage. But their conversation took an intriguing turn when they started talking about flash drives, battery banks, and raspberries of the non-fruit variety. These students were planning for a unique adventure and challenge: board a train to travel cross-country with hundreds of new found friends, all with a common goal: to make a video game in just 52 hours’ time.
“I’m nervous, but I’m excited,” said Jordan Kegler, a game design student in Becker College’s School of Design & Technology.
Kegler may have been nervous because it’s not only his first time attending Train Jam, but it’s a journey that involves buses, planes, and trains. On Wednesday, March 13, Kegler joined Yukon Wainczak on a bus destined for Boston’s Logan Airport. They spent the night there, then met up with Ovie Mukoro and boarded one of the first flights out to Chicago. When they got to the Windy City, they wound their way to the train station where, at 2pm, they joined hundreds of game developers, artists, writers, musicians, and fans from across the country and board a train heading to San Francisco ahead of the 2019 Game Developers Conference.
“I feel like I’m following in the footsteps of geniuses,” said Wainczak.
Indeed, they are. Several generations of Becker students have successfully tackled Train Jam, among them are Rejon Taylor-Foster, Tyler Haddad, and Bert Calderon. The alum have launched careers, working at well-known companies Dailybreak CP, Intrepid Accenture, and HappyGiant AR.
“Train Jam is an experience like no other,” says Tim Loew, executive director of MassDiGI, which provided the funding for the tickets. “It tests the students’ skills as game developers. They have to conceptualize and execute a game they can make in two days’ time. But more importantly, it’s an adventure they won’t forget.”
Loew’s advice to the gamers? Pack light and bring Febreeze. There are no showers on the train.
As for strategy, the team had a loose one. Kegler, Mukoro, and Wainczak knew they had to pack all the tech they needed; they strategized the software they needed to download. The train has Wi-Fi, but trekking cross-country translates to long stretches of no service. They also don’t rule out phoning or messaging a friend for help. The trio deliberated on whether they want to work as a team, ask other people to join their team, or split up and join other jammers’ teams. Wainczak definitively knows one thing: he’ll be the sole programmer. It’s too difficult to coordinate between several programmers on a train. The others agree.
All three are documenting their trip on social media. Kegler even brought along his Polaroid camera. It isn’t a new version. It’s vintage. His parents bought it. And he’s trying out some of their original leftover film. In spite of all the high-tech technology and software he’s bringing on board, this throwback staple is Kegler’s bread and butter. But he worried. He said he has bad luck traveling with equipment.
“All my tech dies when I bring it places,” said Kegler.
We think he’ll have better luck on this trip. Good luck gamers.
Follow the trio’s Train Jam adventure on Twitter: @Wavestormed, @YWainczak, @Libaari