April 14, 2009
Computer students to demonstrate game-creation skills
Students from a special topics course on video game/simulation development being taught by Dr. Ernie Ferguson, professor of computer science and information systems, will demonstrate computer games they have developed during the spring trimester at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23, in room 3500 of Colden Hall.
The 17-member class of undergraduate and graduate students was divided into teams of three or four students each at the beginning of the trimester, and each team worked outside of class to develop a new game over the past six weeks, Ferguson said.
Each of the five teams will give a 20- to 25-minute presentation about its game during the evening program, which is open to all members of the University community and the public.
Two graduates of Northwest's master's degree program in applied computer science will return to campus to help Ferguson evaluate the games and provide feedback. Brandon Rockhold and Brandon Heck are both currently employed by Cerner Corp., a Kansas City information technology company specializing in applications for the healthcare industry. Both took part in an independent studies course on gaming and simulation with Ferguson in 2007 and conducted a game development demonstration with him at the 2008 Central Plains Conference of the Consortium for Computing in Small Colleges.
In addition to Rockhold and Heck, two employees from Black Lantern Studios, a computer game development company in Springfield, will also attend the Colden Hall demonstration and provide critiques on the student-created projects.
Ferguson noted that computer games are now a major segment of the entertainment industry, and that simulation programs are used to train people to do everything from landing jets to running nuclear reactors. Games and simulators rely on the same technology, he said, adding that each has evolved into a major industry employing thousands of skilled professionals.
In other Computer Science and Information System news, teams from Northwest recently competed in the CCSC Central Plains Programming Contest at Southwest Baptist University. The Northwest team of Andy Pryor, a senior computer science major from Woodbine, Iowa; Dustin Singleton, a junior computer science major from Milan; and Dana Estes, a senior computer science major from Skidmore, solved four out of six problems and finished third out of 22 teams from Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Kansas.
A second Northwest team consisting of Tyler Griesbach, a senior computer science major from Chillicothe, and T.J. Mott, a junior computer science major from Westboro, solved three problems and tied for fourth place.
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