May 28, 2009
M.F.A. Thesis Works Forge New Boundaries
By By Charles Benimoff
|The latest projects from Interactive Media Division M.F.A. students fill the Carson Sound Stage from May 9 to May 15, 2009 during "Look and Feel" the 2009 thesis show.|
"I was very impressed, many of these games deal with some serious themes, the students really took their creativity to another level," said IMD Professor Anne Balsamo, curator for the show along with Research Associate Professor Perry Hoberman.
Pluff by Diana Hughes is one such game. Deceptively cute and simple at first, the project incorporates an actual stuffed animal with sensors built in ("e-textile technology") that inform the game program of how and in what way the user is petting the creature. On the game screen, one sees a display of Pluff's (the creature's) mood. As its mood changes, the user must physically care for the stuffed animal to prevent it from growing depressed.
Besides Pluff and Spectre, Look & Feel also featured AquariYum! by Al Yang, By Nature from creator Mike Rossmassler, Carte Blanche by John Brennan, Minor Battle by Andre Clark, Nahui Ollin by Andrea Rodriguez, On the Shoulders of Giants by R.J. Layton, Runesinger by Ethan Kennerly and The Tree: A Storied Experience by Maya Churi.
Describing the games in this year's show as demonstrating a "special degree of maturity," Balsamo said that quality stretched beyond the game concepts and into the creative culture behind them. When asked what lessons each student took away from their experiences, the almost-unanimous verdict across the board was "collaboration." Swallowing their pride and appreciating the feedback of their fellow classmates and teachers, as well as returning the favors with their own, was listed among the most valuable learning experiences of the process.
"I hope the students come away from this with an appreciation for how much cooperative work goes in to making these things work," Balsamo said.
"My classmates' tips were amazing, their insight was crucial to the game turning out the way it did," said Kennerly of his Korean language trainer Runesinger. Since the game is heavily music based, it would not have even been possible without the help and cooperation of fellow students, chiefly those from the Thornton School of Music, he added.