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October 16, 2014

Trojans Honored at BAFTA

Four Game Designers from IMGD Nominated

By Kaiti Williamson

After being nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award this summer, the members of Team Overly Kinetic (Team OK) have continued to live up to their name, actively promoting content at events and exhibitions and participating in development competitions throughout Los Angeles, while keeping up with their schoolwork. The group, which includes four Interactive Media & Games students at the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), was recognized in August for its work developing a video game at the Dare to be Digital Challenge and has been nominated for the “Ones to Watch Award” at the 2015 BAFTA Video Games Awards for their multiplayer deathmatch game, Chambara.

The BAFTA Ones to Watch Award is in association with Dare to Be Digital, an indie video game development competition for university students. The competition takes place at Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland over the course of nine weeks. Teams of five students develop prototype video games that are later showcased for the general public and industry experts at indie game festival, Dare Protoplay.

SCA students Kevin Wong, Alec Faulkner, Catherine Fox, and Esteban Fajardo make up the core of Team OK. Their group also includes Tommy Hoffman, a computer science major at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Chambara is a first-person, split-screen game where two monochromatic assassins compete against one another. The twist is that the assassins compete in a dichromatic world, allowing the players to camouflage themselves within their environment. By seamlessly blending into like-colored spaces, the players stalk and ambush one another in tension-packed swordfights.

After being judged on the criteria of innovation and creativity, market potential, and use of technology, Chambara was chosen as one of the three winning games in the Dare to be Digital competition. The other winning games have also been nominated for the “Ones to Watch Award”and the winner will be announced in March at the 2015 BAFTA Video Games Awards in London.

While waiting to attend the award ceremony in celebration of Chambara, the group members continue to stay busy, actively developing content for both their classes and other competitions, including the IndieCade International Festival of Independent Games.

“We’ve spent the last several weeks decompressing after the competition and taking work on other projects here at USC,”said Wong, who produced the game and assisted with the design. “We’ve still been involved with Chambara, placing it on the USC Arcade Cabinet in SCA, as well as showing it at various events and exhibitions around USC and Los Angeles.”

While group members say they have been encouraged to release the game through Kickstarter or Steam Greenlight and that they have spoken with various publishers, they currently have no definite plans to circulate Chambara.

“We have the opportunity to do more work on the game before the BAFTA Games Awards, so we are going to fancy up our user interface, fix some bugs, and hopefully give it dynamic music,”said Wong.

As stated on the Dare to be Digital site, “video games now sit alongside film and television in their power to entertain and educate and [BAFTA] is dedicated to encouraging the long-term development of this burgeoning art form which is continually pushing the boundaries of creative excellence and technical virtuosity.”

This collaboration between Dare to Be Digital and the BAFTA Ones to Watch Award offers a unique and influential platform to promote this expanding medium and recognize the up and coming talent in the gaming industry.

“On a personal level, the victory has made me much more interested in pursuing indie and festival work,”said Wong. “I’ve definitely discovered that I really enjoy working on local multiplayer games and that I am very conscious of the social impact and implications of stuff I make.”