MassDiGI’s annual SIP Open House a great success

Published on Monday, August 10th, 2015

On Aug. 6, the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) held its annual Summer Innovation Program (SIP) Open House, showing off the games 24 students spent the last 11 weeks building, some of which are already a success.

“The quality of these four games is incredible,” said Tim Loew, executive director of MassDiGI. He, MassDiGI’s Managing Director Monty Sharma, and Producer Walt Yarbrough organize and run SIP each year. “In just four years SIP has experienced phenomenal growth and evolved into a highly competitive program that teaches students not only the elements of game design, but also how to create entrepreneurial, market-ready products.”

The four games included: “Ophidia,” an artistic action game (@ophidiagame); “Crafting Life,” an element crafting game (@craftinglife_); “MegaloMalady,” a brand new idle game (@megalomalady); and “Hibachi Hero,” a fast-paced first person food shooter game (@hibachiherogame).

“Crafting Life” was created in conjunction with staff at Boston Children’s Hospital to help children with ADHD. Jason Kahn, Ph.D., a research associate for the Hospital’s department of psychiatry, worked with the SIP students on the game. “This game is helping kids with emotional dysregulation,” he said, adding that it helps teach them self-control and ways to calm themselves when senses soar. “We have seen good scientific results in the lab,” he said.

Dr. Kahn approached MassDiGI for help with a game, handing the students a simple prototype and letting them “run with it.” “It is more that I could have hoped for,” he said. The game will soon be available and used across the Hospital’s sites, including departments at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

MassDiGI is a statewide center housed at Becker and designated by the Commonwealth for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem. In 2012, MassDiGI created SIP, which has become a competitive summer program among undergraduate and graduate students interested in the game design industry. Over the 12-week period, students select projects, form teams, and receive guidance from industry mentors and staff, with the goal of shipping a game to market. It is the largest game development internship program of its kind in the world.

This year’s SIP students come from Becker College, Berklee College of Music, Brandeis University, Champlain College, Hampshire College, IUPUI, MIT, Northeastern University, RPI, RISD, RIT, University of Southern California, University of Southern Maine, WPI – and Ireland’s Letterkenny Institute of Technology.

A bonus game on display at the event was “Bravehearts Derby,” a baseball-themed project developed by Becker student Rejon Taylor-Foster. Taylor-Foster, who publishes his work under the name Maximum Crash, previously built the game as “Starlot Derby,” which he reskinned for the Bravehearts when the team approached MassDiGI for a game to help promote the organization. “It’s a fun way to bring the fans together,” said Taylor-Foster.

While the release of “Bravehearts Derby” is ultimately up to the team, Taylor-Foster’s “Starlot Derby” is now available for Android devices, and will be released on the Apple Store sometime this fall.

Also available for play at the open house was the recently released game, “Mind the Arrow,” developed by Petricore, Inc., a six-person production company comprised of recent Becker College game design graduates. Team leader and Petricore CEO, Ryan Canuel ’15 and SIP ’14 alum, was on hand to promote the game, which has been downloaded more than 100,000 since its release on the Apple Store on July 30.

Watch the trailers for each game:
Crafting Life
Hibachi Hero

Check out media coverage of the event:
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Worcester News Tonight (CharterTV3)
Chamber Exchange with Tim Murray (CharterTV3)