Winners of Game Design Contest Go “Back in the Day”

by Morgan Kastner

A video-game-programming competition sponsored by Women in Computer Science at LSU became a demonstration of the power of on-demand teamwork as four students who entered individually and had never met before were grouped together and topped 13 other teams to take the top prize.

The second annual WICS Game Jam, a three-day campus event, saw the team Gator Byte Studios create a game called “Back in the Day” to fit the theme of “Keeping It Retro.” The winning game has players defend the year 1988 by collecting soda cans for points while dodging technology invading from the future — such as iPhone 7 earbuds and exploding Samsung Galaxy phones.

Judges praised the game’s stunning graphics, user-friendly experience and creative interpretation of the theme.

Members of the winning Gator Byte team were Justin Marsh, Ezequiel Nieto, Jun Lin and Treyon Cooper.

The three-day event is intensive, with some attendees getting little sleep during the game-production crunch. But WICS provided food and mentorship throughout the event, and sponsors hosted booths where teams could take a break to network or play games. The event drew about 70 student participants, and many said on social media that the event was fun even with the fast pace.

“Everyone was so supportive of all the teams,” said WICS Vice President Jackie Robinson, a computer science senior. “It was a fun and happy environment.”

The event helps drive a primary goal of WICS, group President Sam Shrestha says. “Game Jam is important because it gets the message out to our community about women in computer science,” she says, noting that the competition encourages people to pursue a computer science degree and shows that the major can be fun.

Prizes for the competition included video games from sponsors, Amazon gift cards and books on coding and professional development.

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