//// Schedule  //// Program  //// Competition Winners //// Games ////


GameFest 2014 : NEXT10

The 10th Anniversary


GameFest returns to EMPAC for its 10th anniversary with over forty teams of students showing off new games, a game design competition with students from RPI, RIT, Champlain College and the NYU Game Center, talks, panel discussions, music and more.

The festival will kick off Friday, April 25th at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) with “Outrageous Future Predictions,” a panel of Rensselaer graduate students doing games research, and the “Just Press Play” GameFest kickoff party.  This event will feature game-inspired live electronic music and visuals with the PULSE Group (People Using Live Software and Electronics).  Saturday, April 26th will be the student game exhibition and competition in the 7th floor lobby and throughout EMPAC.  Leigh Alexander, a journalist and video game critic, will deliver the keynote address, which will be followed by a panel discussion titled the “Next 10”. The panel will feature experts from the field who will discuss what the next decade will bring to the gaming industry, with Michael Nitsche (Georgia Tech), Matt Boch (Harmonix), and Tamas Kemenczy and Jake Elliott (Cardboard Computer). All GameFest events are Free and Open to the public. GameFest is hosted by the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences Program and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is made possible in part by the generous support of EMPAC, Vicarious Visions, 1st Playable, Agora Games, eMagination Computer Camps, The School of Interactive Games and Media at Rochester Institute of Technology, The Game Studio at Champlain College, and The Game Center at New York University.

//////////// Schedule ////////////


Friday April 25

Panel: Outrageous Future Predictions

EMPAC Studio Beta 7:00 – 8:00 PM Panelists: David Allen, Jason Coley, Nick Hanford, Stephanie Jennings Moderator: Ben Chang, Director, Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences, RPI

Celebration: JustPressPlay!

games, music, and VJ’s with PULSE (People Using Live Sofware and Electronics) EMPAC Studio 1 8:00 – 11:00 PM

Saturday April 26

Expo: Student Game Showcase

EMPAC Studio 1, 5th Floor (Evelyn’s Cafe), 6th Floor Mezzanine, and 7th Floor Lobby 12:00  – 3:00 PM

Keynote: Leigh Alexander

EMPAC Concert Hall 4:00 – 5:00 PM

Panel: NEXT10

Panelists: Matt Boch (Harmonix), Michael Nitsche (Georgia Tech), Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy (Cardboard Computer) Moderator: Rebecca Rouse, Department of Communication and Media, RPI EMPAC Concert Hall 5:00 – 6:00 PM

Awards: Student Game Competition

Sponsored by Vicarious Visions EMPAC Concert Hall 6:00 – 6:30 PM

//////////// Program ////////////

Outrageous Future Predictions

Panelists: David Allen, Jason Coley, Nick Hanford, Stephanie Jennings Moderator: Ben Chang, Director, Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences, RPI Friday April 25 EMPAC Studio Beta 7:00 – 8:00 PM

What will games look like in 2024?  How has the field of Game Studies developed in the last ten years, and where does it go from here?  Will the pendulum swing from social gaming to anti-social gaming?  How will our games shape the way we understand the world, play and live together?   How many Oculus Rifts can our panelists really wear on their heads at the same time?

Rensselaer graduate students David Allen, Jason Coley, Nick Hanford, and Stephanie Jennings present their most scientifically rigorous data and most outlandish predictions to answer these and other critical questions in this rapid-fire panel at the bleeding edge of games research.


Nicholas Hanford is a graduate student in the Department of Communication and Media whose research focuses on the audiences of games and games criticism. He is the Editor-in-Chief and managing editor of the Journal of Games Criticism. This open, online journal looks to publish criticism that emphasizes the unique affordances and constraints of games, while looking to impact the way that games are designed, marketed, and written about. Nick’s other research interests include identity and data mining within rhetoric and media studies.

David Allen is an MFA student in the Department of the Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a digital artist, animator, and instructor with a professional background in children’s game development, communication design, multilingual typesetting, and traditional media, who has published titles for the Nintendo GBA, DS, DSi, Wii, and Jakks Pacific platforms. His current work centers on the intersection of games, emotion, movement and dance.

Jason Coley is a second year PhD student at RPI in the Communication and Media Department. His research takes an art history/media history approach to understanding the immersive image experience and examines presence from a cultural studies and human-computer interaction perspective in order to develop a user study comparing presence across the Oculus Rift, the Emergent Reality Lab, Google Glass, and desktop computer virtual environments. His work aims to develop a new framework for the design of content for current generation HMDs that takes into account his analysis of the art/media history context of these types of experiences, new ideas for the measurement of presence, and the results of the user study.

Stephanie Jennings is a graduate student in the department of Communication and Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her research interests are focused on issues of player agency in video games, including considerations of player choice, authorship of games, the relationship between players and developers, and games criticism. Stephanie writes about games on her blog Ludogabble ( and has also contributed to Higher Level Gamer ( She is on Twitter at @stephaniejngs.



Come meet and greet your fellow attendees in EMPAC’s Evelyn’s cafe and the Goodman Theater (Studio 1) for an evening that will be part performance, part party, part jam session, part festival. Join the members of the RPI community and PULSE (People Using Live Software and Electronics) for an electronic evening mashing up live gaming graphics, sound, with the latest in live music and video production and performance. Performances will range from the ambient to the intense, inspired by and interacting with video games and gaming genres from the past, present and future!

Friday April 25

EMPAC Studio 1

8:00 – 11:00 PM


Expo : Student Showcase

Saturday April 26

EMPAC 7th Floor Lobby, 6th Floor Mezzanine, 5th Floor (Evelyn’s Cafe), and Studio 1

12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Run and leap through a mystical floating city, use the Kinect to become an elemental spirit, put on an Oculus Rift VR headset to explore the dark history of an abandoned mental hospital, delve into a deep cavern made entirely of text, or bring back the days of the video arcade with new games created for custom-built arcade cabinet.  The GameFest Expo showcases the next generation of game designers, with over forty games from students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, Champlain College and the NYU Game Center.

Keynote: Leigh Alexander


leighalexanderSaturday April 26

EMPAC Concert Hall

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Experimentation in design plays a crucial role in the ongoing evolution of games both as a creative and a commercial medium. Leigh Alexander explains the new trends in tools and culture alike that make it a more exciting time than ever to participate.

Leigh Alexander is a writer, speaker and activist on interactive entertainment, social media and the culture of play. She’s editor at large for industry site Gamasutra and has been a longtime contributor to the specialist press, including Edge, Kotaku and Polygon, among others. Most recently, her work has appeared in The New Inquiry, Slate, The Atlantic, New Statesman and the Columbia Journalism Review, and she authored the ebook Breathing Machine, a memoir of a digital childhood. She is co-founder of Agency, a new creative consultancy for game development.

Panel: NEXT10

Panelists: Matt Boch (Harmonix), Michael Nitsche (Georgia Tech), Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy (Cardboard Computer) Moderator: Rebecca Rouse, Department of Communication and Media, RPI

Saturday April 26

EMPAC Concert Hall

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

michaelnitscheDr. Michael Nitsche joined the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech in 2004, and formed the Digital World & Image Group DWIG ( shortly after. His research looks into digital spaces, where and how they intersect with physical environments. Combining video games, mobile technology, and digital performances, he experiments with borderline areas of digital and physical media. Michael holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of Cambridge and researches digital virtual worlds as environments for dramatic engagement and human expression. His work combines theoretical analysis and practical experiments and his collaborations include work with the National Film and Television School London, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Turner Broadcasting, Alcatel Lucent, and others. He is author of Video Game Spaces: Image, Play, and Structure in 3D Worlds (MIT Press, 2009), and has published on Game Studies, virtual worlds, digital performance, games and film, and machinima in numerous publications.

Matt-Boch-02Matt Boch is Creative Director at Harmonix Music Systems, guiding the direction of some of Harmonix’s premier titles. Matt began at Harmonix six years ago, with a Visual and Environmental Studies degree from Harvard University. From 2007-2010, he worked as a hardware designer, developing the look, feel and functionality of Rock Band’s iconic set of instruments. Matt then moved from the world of plastic guitars to the arena of game design when he began prototyping what would become Dance Central, utilizing his love for both music and dance. Most recently, he directed Harmonix’s newest innovation in music gaming, Fantasia: Music Evolved, a collaboration with Disney to bring the classic film into the 21st century. In his spare time, Matt is the lead singer for the Main Drag, a VJ and video artist, and makes video game remixes through his music project, AniGif.

krzJake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy are Chicago-based indie game development studio Cardboard Computer, creators of the critically acclaimed games including Kentucky Route Zero, The Entertainment, Limits and Demonstrations, and A House in California.

Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it. Gameplay is inspired by point-and-click adventure games (like the classic Monkey Island or King’s Quest series, or more recently Telltale’s Walking Dead series), but focused on characterization, atmosphere and storytelling rather than clever puzzles or challenges of skill.  The game is developed by Cardboard Computer (Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy). The game’s soundtrack features an original electronic score by Ben Babbitt along with a suite of old hymns & bluegrass standards recorded by The Bedquilt Ramblers.

//////////// AWARDS ////////////


1st Place : Hangeki


Damian Cross, Natalie Johnson, Jaron Kong, Jota San, Terence Tolman, Greg Weil (RPI) The world is under siege by waves of alien invaders. Using their advanced spacecraft to dominate the air, Yokuna Donaku and his nine generals send an endless horde to conquer mankind. Only the Hangeki, an experimental weapon of untold power, has the strength to punch through the invasion force and take the fight back to the alien homeworld. Are you ready for this fast paced take on the classic arcade space shooter?

2nd Place : Kaleidoscope

kaleidoscope_screenshot_61_12424_900 Aaron Freedman, Diego Garcia, Toni Pizza (NYU Game Center) A captain and her crew have been stranded, shipless, in deep space. Faced with the knowledge that they’ve no way to get home and are doomed to die, the ship’s staff resolves to leave no member to experience their last moments alone in the void.

3rd Place : Gemini

gemini-1 Atlas Chen, Nick Zhang, Kevin Chen, Tony Yan (NYU Game Center) Gemini is a game aiming to create a meaningful emotional relationship between the player and a non-player character, through a story of two stars flying to heaven from earth by elevating each other. Gemini is the ongoing thesis project of Atlas Chen and Nick Zhang, collaborating with artist Kevin Chen and composer Tony Yan.

Excellence in Art Direction : SunBots

SunBots en_generic_rgb_wo_45 Desiree Fernandes, Melissa Gill, Matthew Jordan, Chris Mastenbrook, Liznel Piña, Ryan Steinmetz, Matt Surdej, Remy Vogler (Champlain College) SunBots is a mobile platformer in which the player uses gravity-based jumps and boosts to navigate solar systems. The player needs to collect sun shards in order to restore dying suns. As the suns revive, life is brought back to the surrounding planets and expands the area for exploration.

Excellence in Design : Gravity’s Pull


Chris DeBartolomeo, Kevin Hendricks, Michael Lechner, Jeffrey Steel (RPI)

Excellence in Multi-Player : Field-1

Field-1 Aaron Freedman, Shervin Ghazazani, Maxim Kolbowski-Frampton, Dylan McKenzie (NYU Game Center) Field-1 is an arcade game that’s accessible and exciting for both players and spectators. It’s Frogger with your friends, it’s Hokra without the puck, and it’s the most fun you’ve had with a controller in a long time.

Excellence in Puzzle Innovation : Soft Body

SoftBody Zeke Virant (NYU Game Center) Soft Body is a free-roaming bullet hell game set in an abstract visual world with painting and dodging as the core mechanics. All of the game’s mechanics, sounds, and rules have been designed to feature the fluid control and look of the player’s worm-like avatar. Unlike most bullet hell or traditional space shooter games, Soft Body allows the player to move fast in every direction. Instead of a constant scrolling screen and scripted enemy encounters, the player chooses how to approach each enemy and obstacle.

Excellence in Sensory Experience : A.V.

av Preston Johnson, Doug Lynn,  Amanda Rivet, Brockton Roth, Gary “Jake” Wilson, Hunter Baule, Keith Scotland, Matt Vliet, Nicholas Miclette (R.I.T.) A.V. is a first-person stealth-puzzle game for the PC, developed in the Unity engine. The game places the player in the role of a rogue music-processing algorithm from a computer’s sound systems. From this role, the player can view the world only through audible means. When idle, the player views the game world as only a plain, black void. However, each sound in the game sends out a pulse of energy, illuminating a small portion of the world around that sound’s source. Through this function, players can visualize their surroundings and learn to navigate through a strange and complex computer world.

Audience Choice – Best in Show : Head in the Clouds

headintheclouds en_generic_rgb_wo_45 Nicholas Cesare, Nicholas Lewis, Ashley Tanski, Anthony Szymczyk (RPI)

Audience Choice – Most Innovative : Lead with your Face

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 4.39.24 PM James McCarthy, James Ross, Dan Newton, Tiffany Entwistle (RPI) Lead With Your Face is an Oculus Rift sandbox game. You play as a mental patient in a straight jacket who finds he has developed telekinesis to compensate for his inability to use his arms. The game is based around the possibility of using your face as a controller (using the Oculus Rift). In the game you paint with your face, play chess with your face, drink water with you face, and lead with your face!

//////////// GAMES ////////////


Zach Agostine, Alex Martens, Corbin Percy, Connor Fullerton, Paden Hall, Marc Loiselle, Reid Flamm, Taber Noble, Peter Orzell (Champlain)


Peregrin Garet, Markus Gaasedelen, Kevin Lyman, Andrew Morris, Katie Sousa, Meara Kinne, Nick Payne, David Vanderzee (RPI)


Anthony Szymczyk, James Ross, Daniel Newton, Tif Entwistle, Jay Lee, Ashley Tanski, Marcus Baker (RPI)

Duel Major

Spencer Johnson, Reginald Franklin, Corey Byrnes, Chris Cloutier, Jerry Juang (RPI)

Elemental PandeMania


Nathan Palo, Kevan DuPont, David Allen, Robert Stewart (RPI)

Fall of the Tzar

Meara Kinne, Devin Comeau, Justin Buergi, Will Pheloung (RPI)

Feed The Beasties

Sean Pennell, Aidan Grennen, Rebecca Couture, Angelo Person, Michael Hill, Paul Scardera (Champlain)

Grief for Glory

grief_for_glory Jay Lee, Gabe Violette, Victor Cortez, PJ Castrocucco, Andrew Ryther, Marcus Baker (RPI)

Hello World

Kevin Fung (RPI)

I Quit

James Marion (NYU)


Kajo_Birds_Big Ian Kettlewell, Stephen Cannavale, Christian Tewell, Ethan Richards, JJ Go (RPI)

Leaf Co.

Sam Morrison, Erik Buchholz, Blake Gross, Torey Scheer, Matt DeNovio (RIT)


Dustin Kochensparger, Amanda Imperial, Blake Gross, Torey Scheer, Matt DeNovio (RIT)


Sam Roberts, Devon Case, Leif Erkenbrach, Jesse Snyder, Lisa Barber (Champlain)


Protostar Arthur Jones, Adam Trager, Tim Terreza, Alex Foo, Cameron Chu  (RPI)


Ilya Zarembsky (NYU)


Gerald Franklin, Reginald Franklin  (RPI)


Ian Giovannetti, Ben Dorsey, Dylan Rainville, Jesse Ferland, Justin DeBarnardis, Peter Fitts, Jonathan Buresh, Markel Carter, Brendan Riley, Christopher Marini (Champlain)

Realtime Ray Tracing Using WebGL

Andy Hanson, Scott Todd  (RPI)


David Wilkes, Mitchel Hamilton, Trenholme Griffin, Aaron Goldman, Boyd Pellett, Jack Donovan, Marc Eclipse, Brandon Kovler, Eric Miles (Champlain)

Shady Dealings

Dan Wild, Alex Hogue, Matt Kaufman, Avinash Krishnan (RIT)

Shall the Rain Never Stop Falling?

Justin Buergi  (RPI)

Space Luddites

screenshot_0005_spaceballerULT Annie Sardelis, Brennan Cushin, Brian Tam, Neale Johnson, Scott Todd  (RPI)

Star ‘Splosions

Arthur Jones  (RPI)

The Lease of Your Worries

Joe Eduardo, Reginald Franklin, Karl Olsen, Dustin Tsui  (RPI)

The Real Olympics

Craig Carlson, Richard Pietrzak, Domenic Cristaldi, Julius Lee, Devin Hilpert  (RPI)

Time to Launch

Dustin Kochensparger, Mike Lyle, Jon Dvorak, Kurt Venezuala, (RIT)

Tower of London

Maynard Price  (RPI)


Ian Travis, David Koloski, Catherine Litvaitis, Connor Fahy  (RPI)

Treasure Fortress

Michael Maris  (RPI)


David Pictor, Ross Derham, Bryan Gabay, Chris O’Connor, Chris Bresnahan, Taylor Peet, Thomas Francis, Daniel Houghton (Champlain)


Jason Wiles, Chris Mendenhall, Evan Tetreault, Ian Percoco, Brian Rouleau, Gilly Thrall, Mike Vautour, Michael Elderhorst, Sean McFarlane, Julian Lenz (Champlain)

Watershed Games: The Significance of Place

Kelly DeBarr, Yijia Chen, Sarah Plant, Kathleen Ruiz (RPI)

WebGL GPU Particle Demo

Arthur Jones  (RPI)


John Van Wie, Philip Wellheuser, Talal Daoud, Ian Mason, Scott Ethington, Ross Carey, Raymond Perkins, Allan Dunn, Kevin Berry, Michael Eaton, Jake Jackson (Champlain)


zephyr Matthew Chapman, Vincent Kocher, Grace Rhee, Alex Burkholder  (RPI)