Student-designed games debut on Steam Greenlight, available for public play-testing at 2016 SMU Guildhall Spring Exhibition

The SMU Guildhall hosts its biannual graduate exhibition showcasing video games developed by graduating students on Friday, May 13. The 2016 Spring Exhibition will honor Cohort 23: master’s degree candidates who specialize in art creation, level design, production and programming.

The day’s schedule is as follows, and all events take place at SMU-in-Plano, Building 2, 5232 Tennyson Parkway. The public is welcome to attend each event, and admission is free:

  • 2:30-4 p.m. Exhibition of student games
  • 4-5 p.m. Honors Awards
  • 5-6 p.m. Capstone team games presentations

Both Cohort 23 Capstone games have debuted on Steam Greenlight, a community service of the Steam online gaming platform that allows gamers to vote on new content. Both Guildhall games will be made available for download and play through Steam if they receive enough votes. Follow the links below each game description to learn more and vote:

Gravitas is a first-person physics-based puzzle game in which the player manipulates gravity in order to navigate the realm of a mad artist known as “The Curator.” In a revolutionary art gallery built in space using groundbreaking technology, the player character receives a special glove that can control gravity and must use the new power to explore this world.

The Guildhall game creators, collectively known as Space Shark Studios, chose to build a puzzle game because it allowed them to focus on a single core mechanic and polish it to an extremely high quality. They built Gravitas in Unreal Engine 4 over a span of six months.

The production of Gravitas gave Space Shark Studios the opportunity to work within a simulated game development environment with all of its ups and downs. Throughout the project, they learned to communicate effectively as a team of 13, as well as develop within a very constrained timeline.

> Vote for Gravitas on Steam Greenlight

Scrapped is a single player, third-person 3D platformer developed in Unreal Engine 4.8.1. It stars Robot C-23 (get it?), who must solve his way out of a dangerous junkyard after inadvertently failing a quality inspection.

After being tossed out like garbage and trapped within an expansive scrapyard, the “quantum force”-powered robot encounters a robotic light bug named Fritz. Using Fritz’s glowing guidance, C-23 must repel and attract across hazards, dodging saws and swinging over bottomless pits to make their way across the perilous terrain. With each force-powered leap or slide, C-23 and his friend draw closer to a new home.

The student team, Get Out Alive Games, designed Scrapped with the intention of constructing a short yet extremely professional and polished experience. Over the course of six months, they learned to work with an industry-sized team, gained experience developing a professionally focused project, and formed an understanding of pipeline process and interdisciplinary collaboration.

> Vote for Scrapped on Steam Greenlight

Other Guildhall cohorts will also put new games up for public play-testing. Watch SMU Forum for additional information on these titles:

  • Knightly Burden (Cohort 26)
  • Azimuth (Cohort 25)
  • For the Family (Cohort 25)
  • Iron Games (Cohort 25)
  • Velocirapture (Cohort 25)

Kate Edwards, IGDAExhibition Day will conclude with the Guildhall’s graduation reception and presentation of degrees to students receiving the Master of Interactive Technology degree in digital game development. This year’s keynote speaker is Kate Edwards, executive director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and one of Fortune magazine’s “10 Most Powerful Women” in the game industry.

Edwards is also the founder and principal consultant of Geogrify, a Seattle-based consultancy for content culturalization, where she uses her expertise as an applied geographer, writer, and corporate strategist. As Microsoft’s first Geopolitical Strategist in the Geopolitical Strategy team she created and managed, she was responsible for protecting the company against political and cultural content risks across all products and locales. Since leaving Microsoft, she has provided guidance to many companies on a wide range of geopolitical and cultural issues and she continues to work on a variety of game franchises. Kate is also a regular columnist for MultiLingual Computing magazine.

In October 2013, Fortune magazine named her as one of the 10 most powerful women in the game industry. In December 2014 she was named by as one of their six People of the Year in the game industry.

> Visit the SMU Guildhall’s new website:

Gaming guru Jane McGonigal delivers Tate Lecture Nov. 13, 2012

Jane McGonigalGamer, game designer, author and futurist Jane McGonigal is on the Hilltop Tuesday, Nov. 13 for SMU’s 2012-13 Tate Distinguished Lecture Series. She will give the Oncor Lecture at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.

McGonigal’s work emphasizes the power of games to solve problems. Named by The New York Times as one of 10 scientists with the best vision for what is coming next, and by Oprah Winfrey as one of the 20 most inspiring women in the world, she is an expert in harnessing the power of digital games to help solve some of the biggest challenges facing the world today and in the future.

In her New York Times best-selling book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, McGonigal makes the case that the gamer spirit — an attitude of fun, dedicated, collective problem-solving — is our greatest asset as we face the social, economic and environmental problems of the 21st century. She argues that game designers are “happiness engineers” who are experts in making difficult tasks engaging.

Follow Jane McGonigal on Twitter @AvantGame

As a world-renowned designer of alternate-reality games (ARGs), McGonigal specializes in reimagining the world as a place where every challenge is a quest — where the harder a task is, the more people want to do it. An ARG activity can be as mundane as household chores or as urgent as surviving peak oil or establishing local sustainable businesses (the subjects of two of her own games). But more than just reframing these challenges, McGonigal works to capture the kind of heroism, epic purpose and communal striving that many struggle to find in their day-to-day routines.

McGonigal is the chief creative officer of SuperBetter Labs (formerly Social Chocolate) and has keynoted the Game Developers Conference, South By Southwest and Google Zeitgeist Americas. She also serves as director of game research and development with Institute for the Future, a nonprofit research group based in Palo Alto, California. Her TED 2010 speech attracted more than 1.7 million views. She also played a high-profile role at the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

A native of Philadelphia and a former New Yorker, McGonigal lives in San Francisco with her husband, Kiyash. She earned her B.A. degree in English from Fordham University and her Ph.D. in performance studies from the University of California-Berkeley.

The evening lecture is sold out, but SMU students may attend for free with their University ID if seats become available. McGonigal will answer questions from University community members and local high school students in the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom.

The Forum is free, but seating is limited. SMU faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend; RSVP online to ensure a place. To ask McGonigal a question via Twitter, send a tweet with the hashtag #SMUtateMcGonigal. A moderator will ask some of these questions during the event.

Learn more about this year’s Tate Lectures at