Hear About the Latest News on Online Game to Change Accessibility Attitudes, Google Doodle Honors Jerry Lawson, and Student Video Game Wins International Award

In today’s computer gaming news, learn more about a team of Dal computer science students creating a new online game with the goal of educating the university community about (dis)abilities and reducing associated stigmas. Meanwhile, if you visit the Google homepage last Thursday, you’re in for a special treat: A set of create-your-own video games inspired by the man who helped make interactive gaming possible. Lastly, BYU students’ new video game got the Rookie Awards’ “Highly Commended” prize. The award placed BYU fifth in game design and development worldwide.

Students Design an Online Game to Change Accessibility Attitudes

Original Source: Computer Science students create online game to shift attitudes about accessibility

A team of Dal computer science students is developing an online game to teach the university community about (dis)abilities and minimize associated stigmas.

Robert Hawkey, an instructor of professional practice in the Faculty of Computer Science, and two teaching assistants helped the students with the accessibility project.

The gaming project started this fall in Hawkey’s modern software development class. Students work with needy customers in a course project. Dal’s Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT).

As a CLT educational developer, I’ve worked with students to create this game to increase awareness and change Dal community attitudes.

“The nicest aspect about the course is that the learning structure allows us to locate meaningful tasks for the student to complete that also helps people,” adds Hawkey.

The online game is expected to begin within a week. Look for the game link on the Accessibility Week page.

Realizing experience

But first, the crew had to learn.

Substance Use Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder were featured in the game, and students had to learn more about them.

Tom Campbell, one of 10 students on the development team, adds, “We got to connect with our instructors and learn a lot about why this game needed to be made.” I was astonished by stigma and stereotyping’s influence on this community.

The students consulted Dalhousie’s (dis)Ability Staff and Faculty Caucus to build a game with a first-person perspective rather than clinical explanations.

“What do you wish people knew about your (dis)ability(ies)?” was the only question asked of each participant.

Despite not being requested for such information, many comments were pages long. When asked why they wrote so much, a popular response was, “Answering this question felt therapeutic and empowering.”

Recommended reading: Accessibility in action: Inside Dal’s mission to construct a better campus for all

A game changes.

Students have to go beyond computer science to build games.

Students learned about designing for accessibility from Student Accessibility Centre technology advisor Maria McNeil. The students learned from McNeil that designing and building new technologies should start with accessibility. Products are built first, then designers “fix it.”

This lesson can be used to developing courses, arranging events, maintaining common spaces clean and safe, establishing new buildings, gathering with fellow students for group work, or welcome visitors to our units.

As the team talked with Dal accessibility specialists, senior developer Joseph Burton looks on how the project progressed.

“Initially some of our designs were really uninformative and borderline irrelevant to generating awareness,” he explains. The game has become more of a visual novel to show what it’s like to live with a disability.

Overcoming prejudice

As the project nears completion, I’ve invited the students to reflect on the three-month trip. The project’s goal was to raise awareness of (dis)abilities and the barriers they experience, and their responses reflected that. Students seemed to change their attitudes, which helped them overcome preconceived notions and preconceptions.

They also want the game to be revived and developed because they care about the project and the Dal community. Although they were able to add in certain accessibility elements they learnt about in three months, they anticipate future revisions will be accessible to all users.

Hawkey, the course instructor, plans to continue developing this project in the winter term. He wants future students to participate in Dalhousie Accessibility Week.

“I could not be prouder of their hard work and dedication on behalf of accessibility awareness,” he adds of the project’s students.

Interactive Google Doodle Honors Gaming Pioneer Jerry Lawson

Original Source: Today’s interactive Google Doodle honors Jerry Lawson, a pioneer of modern gaming

You may visit the Google homepage for a special treat: Create-your-own video games inspired by the man who made interactive gaming feasible.

Dec. 1 would have been Gerald “Jerry” Lawson’s 82nd birthday. He led the team that built the first home video gaming system with interchangeable cartridges, paving the way for Atari and Super Nintendo.

Lawson’s accomplishments were especially noteworthy given that he was one of few Black engineers in the IT business in the 1970s. “Due to a breakdown in the video game market,” his children told Google, “our father’s story became a footnote in video-game history.”

In recent years, Lawson has been honored in the World Video Game Hall of Fame in New York and at the University of Southern California, where an endowment fund supports underrepresented students studying game design and computer science.

Another example is Thursday’s Google Doodle. It comprises games by three guest artists, Lauren Brown, Davionne Gooden, and Momo Pixel.

Users first guide an animated Lawson through a path marked with his life’s milestones before choosing other games. Each has its own aesthetic, goal, and modifiable elements, so users can design their own game in Lawson’s spirit of invention.

Anderson Lawson said he hopes the games and their creator would encourage young people in a Google video explaining the Doodle.

He remarked, “When people play this Doodle, I hope they’re motivated to be innovative.” “And I hope that some young kid somewhere that looks like me and wants to get into game development hears about my father’s experience and feels like they can.”

In the field and at home, Lawson was an inspiration.

His son called Gerald Lawson’s life “all about science.” He made a radio station out of recyclable items in his Jamaica, Queens room when he was young.

After graduating from Queens College and City College of New York, Lawson went to Palo Alto and joined Fairchild Semiconductor as a technical consultant, eventually becoming its video game department’s director of engineering and marketing.

The first video game console with interchangeable game cartridges, an eight-way digital joystick, and a pause menu was the Fairchild Channel F, developed by Lawson. 1976 saw its release.

“He was constructing a coin-operated video game utilizing the Fairchild microprocessor, which subsequently with a team of people led to the gaming cartridge and the channel F system,” Anderson Lawson said. Fun represented the “F.”

VideoSoft, Lawson’s 1980 video game creation company, was one of the first Black-owned. It popularized Lawson’s Fairchild team’s replaceable cartridge system by creating software for the Atari 2600.

He consulted engineering and video gaming firms until his death at 70.

While Lawson is best recognized for inventing the video game cartridge, his children remember him as a loving father.

In a 2021 StoryCorps interview, Karen and Anderson Lawson joked that they only afterwards discovered they were testing and bug-fixing their dad’s games.

Anderson, whose father inspired him to study computer science, stated, “If everyone was going right, he’d figure up a solid reason to go left.” “That was him. He determined his fate.”

Google Doodle participants can now write their own fates—or at least games—in his honor.

BYU Student Video Game Wins Worldwide Prize

Original Source: BYU student created video game wins international award

BYU students just won the Rookie Awards’ “Highly Commended” prize for their innovative video game. BYU became the world’s fifth-ranked game design and development school.

BYU students Emily Ellis and Gabe Reed created Liminus: The Silent Guard. Ellis and Reed worked with 50 other students to create the game in summer 2021. Concept art, 3D modeling, programming, special effects, and music took hundreds of hours to make the game.

Reed said his job as producer was to keep everyone on track since “there’s a lot of moving components, and there’s an order to building a game like this.” “The models and animation had to be done before the concept drawings. I planned and managed everything.”

In the Inbetween, players play as the Shepherd, an everlasting entity who saves and protects lost sheep. The Shepherd protects the sheep from predators like wolves. Guide the sheep to safety using strategy and basic puzzles. It’s free and PC-compatible.

Ellis’s long-standing idea inspired the game. She stated, “I’d been wanting to create a story with a different perspective on the Grim Reaper since the summer of 2018, but I wasn’t sure what the ideal format would be; I wondered whether it might be a book, a TV show, or some short animation.” “When the animation program started asking for video game ideas, I pitched it and other students liked it and it started taking off.”

Ellis stated building a video game needs laser-like attention on the game’s key experiences and forced her and her team to think imaginatively about how the game would advance, how to equip the main character with tools to defend against attacks, and how a user may win in the game.

“We saw how people interacted with the game and learned how various people played it,” she said. “It’s not a combat game, but the Shepherd employs defense moves, so striking the balance in making the game was difficult because we wanted to appeal to a variety of players.”

The Rookie Awards named the BYU animation students’ capstone game one of the year’s best. BYU joined France’s New3dge and the UK’s University of Hertfordshire as the world’s fifth-best game design school.

“It’s pretty great to see BYU up there with these extremely specialized colleges that focus on animation and game design,” Reed said. “It’s cool to compete with them.”

Reed and Ellis credit their teachers and say they’re happy for the chance to be in BYU’s animation program and gain real-world experience in a studio-like setting, which they believe has prepared them for success after graduation.

“Great lecturers who have worked in the industry allow us space to develop our skills and give us confidence that we can handle difficulties. We’re humbled to oversee such massive projects. Ellis said students started meetings with prayer and felt guided and inspired as they worked together. “I hope people can see the game’s heart and soul.”

Summary of Today’s Computer Gaming News

Overall, a group of computer science students at Dal are working on an online game with the goal of reducing stigmas associated with (dis)abilities and educating the academic community about them. Two TAs and Robert Hawkey, a professional practice instructor in the Department of Computer Science, have helped the students with the accessibility project.

On the other hand, The pioneer of interactive gaming, Gerald “Jerry” Lawson, was honored on Google’s homepage last Thursday. Considering that he was one of the few Black engineers in the IT business in the 1970s, Lawson’s accomplishments stand out even more brightly. Nonetheless, as his children explained to Google, “our father’s narrative became a footnote in video-game history” because of a crash in the video game market.

Finally, Rookie Awards is an international organization that reviews and ranks the best video game design schools throughout the world, and they recently gave BYU students the “Highly Commended” award for a new video game they developed. This honor placed BYU in the top five universities worldwide for video game design and development. BYU students Emily Ellis and Gabe Reed created the interactive computer game Liminus: The Silent Guard. It was a massive undertaking that Ellis and Reed began working on in the summer of 2021, including close to fifty other students.

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