Walking into the WVU Media Innovation Center on Saturday, April 1, was like walking into a techie’s dream. Attendees of the Indie Games Showcase were testing out locally made video games, experiencing virtual reality and wowing each other with game development ideas.
This inaugural event was hosted by MonRiverGames, a nonprofit founded by WVU Reed College of Media Teaching Assistant Professor Heather Cole. MonRiverGames values “games for good” — creating meaningful and purposeful games — and aims to provide enriching and professional experiences within game design and the arts for both students and members of the community. This mission was the inspiration for hosting the showcase.
“The Indie Games Showcase gave students the opportunity to network with others in game career paths in a free and accessible on-campus event,” Cole said. “It also gave the regional game development community the time and space to be better acquainted with one another and promote themselves to the general public.”
After grabbing name tags and maps from the front desk, attendees were able to experience a live podcast hosted by Starlight Press and a bustling showcase of card games, indie playtests, vendors, podcasters and more from regional studios and event sponsor Four Horsemen Comics and Gaming, among others.
Members of MonRiverGames were demonstrating two titles, “Spy Cats” and “Purple House.” Students and community members have been working together to develop and refine these games over the past 18 months.
"Seeing other people play my game was nerve wracking because you never know who these people are until you talk to them," said Liza Litten, a student in the Game Design and Interactive Media (GDIM) program. "It made me realize that people play and explore games differently so going forward I have to think of as many ways players can play the game rather than the intended way. The GDIM major helped me learn about storytelling and player behaviors. it taught me how to make games in different engines and put my ideas together in a way that is fun for others."
Cole and Jeffrey Moser, an associate professor in the WVU School of Art and Design, have spearheaded the growth and expansion of the GDIM program over the past few years. A combined major between the WVU Reed College of Media and the College of Creative Arts, GDIM features curriculum that creates opportunities for students to learn such essential skills as design, animation, coding and filmography to prepare for a professional career in a variety of digital media industries.
GDIM students were at the helm of both the MonRiverGames and X-Reality booths. X-Reality, a WVU student organization focused on developing virtual reality and augmented reality games, showed off their game, “Cliff Westward’s Shooting Gallery.”
“This showcase was an important step towards better serving our Game Design and Interactive Media students and WVU’s other game-related programs, as well as progressing the community mission of our nonprofit community game studio,” Cole said. “Attendees were able to see firsthand the variety of talent that our GDIM program fosters and supports.”
The success of the studio’s first spring showcase leaves them hopeful for future annual events. Cole is already planning for one in April 2024 with a goal of getting even more game employers and regional studios involved.
To learn more about WVU’s GDIM program, visit
mediacollege.wvu.edu/gdim or email Cole directly at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about MonRiverGames at
www.monrivergames.com and email
email@example.com if you would like to participate in future events as
a vendor, studio, game employer or sponsor.