STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN TRAIN JAM
Fifty-two hours. That was all the time allotted to a team of Becker students to develop a video game from scratch. But, the trio – Tyler Haddad, Heriberto Calderon and Kaitlyn Krystyniak – was not working in a fluorescent-lighted classroom equipped with access to the latest high-tech equipment. They toiled away on their laptops aboard a California-bound train. These Interactive Media Design students were taking part in Train Jam, a gathering of game developers travelling together cross country by rail to the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. GDC is the world’s largest professional game industry event held each year in the Golden Gate City. Train Jam participants come together to innovate and turn ideas into fun, playable games.
Haddad, Calderon, Krystyniak and fellow game developers from around the world met up on Thursday in Chicago and boarded Amtrak’s California Zephyr for the two-day trip to GDC, a week-long gathering of industry professionals that kicks off on Monday, March 19th. For the Becker team, Train Jam was a one-of-a-kind opportunity to hone their skills in a collaborative environment under strict time limits that mirror real-world scenarios. Train Jam participants had 52 hours to conceptualize an idea and create a game centered around a theme, which was only disclosed after the train departed Chicago’s Union Station in order to limit advanced planning and spark creativity. All games developed during Train Jam will be on display during GDC for fellow game developers to play and review. A total of twelve Becker students are attending this year’s conference.
“It’s important to support students beyond the classroom and to expose them to opportunities where they connect and network with developers at all levels,” said Timothy Loew, Executive Director at the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) at Becker, which sponsored the College’s Train Jam participants. “Train Jam is a great example of that. Plus, those hours on that train may very well be the most fun and creative time they’ll spend working.”