Archive for the 'Featured Students' Category

23
Nov
10

Holiday Cheer with the GSO and Child’s Play Charity

Gamers have much to be thankful for this holiday season. Not only have we witnessed the next step in motion control technology, but we’ve also seen a handful of games and hardware  that, well, are pretty damn cool.

Lets do a quick recap:

Best game on store shelves: NBA 2K11

Biggest blockbuster game: Call of Duty: Black Ops

Most affordable stocking stuffer: OnLive Gaming system

Best new hardware: Microsoft Kinect for the Xbox 360

Before I let my thirst for holiday gaming take over this post, I’ll shift gears a bit to talk about two major events that have my jingle bells bouncing off the ceiling: University of Maryland’s Gamer Symphony Orchestra performance on December 11, and the 2010 Child’s Play Charity.

UMD’s Gamer Symphony Orchestra is the first collegiate orchestral ensemble dedicated to playing video game music. The student-run organization, founded in 2003, will be hosting its fifth annual show on December 11th in Dekelbouom Hall of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. This year, 12o musicians and 40 singers will take the stage to perform songs from Mega Man, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy VI and more.

And here’s the kicker–it’s totally free.

Check out the GSO’s bone-chilling performance of Halo during last year’s Spring performance

Now on to some awesome charitable doings. The Child’s Play Charity, also founded in 2003, is a foundation where gamers raise money to help over 70 children’s hospitals across the world with new and old gaming systems. Participants can either donate money directly to the site, or take part in a gaming marathon that is streamed online to raise money. So far, the charity has donated more than $7 million.

Here’s a video to one of the many gaming marathons hosted across the country.

This year, Child’s Play has already received close to $450,000 in donations and is hoping to achieve $1.2 million. This holiday season, make a difference to many children’s lives by giving them the gift of gaming.

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09
Nov
10

University Alumni David Bagget

When I first started playing video games, Crash Bandicoot was the game that made me fool my parents into thinking I went to bed on time every night.  Once the lights were off and I could hear my father start to snore, I turned on the TV and surrounded myself in a chaotic glow of Crash and his arch nemesis, Doctor Neo Cortex.

Many years later, I have dozens of game franchises under my belt, but Crash Bandicoot always brings me back home to my glory days.

I recently discovered that David Bagget, the co-creator of the Crash Bandicoot series, is a University of Maryland Alumni- I seriously lost my shit. The man who co-inspired the game that made me so passionate about the medium is also a Terp. To say I’m a fan of this man’s work is an extreme understatement.

The One and Only Crash Bandicoot

Bagget graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S./B.A. in Computer Science and Linguistics from the University of Maryland in 1992. After his stay at Maryland, he moved on to join MIT at their Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Shortly thereafter, Bagget joined forces with Naughty Dog, the developing studio who gave us Crash Bandicoot in 1996.

After discovering such awesome news, I’m making sure to reach out and thank him for providing the game that defined my childhood. Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, I’ll meet with Mr. Bagget and learn the whole story about his work in the games industry.

Apuminiga!

28
Oct
10

Revisiting the Classics with Emily Stransky

She must have been a plumber in her past life

The weather forecast for Wednesday was less than promising. After trudging through lakes of rain water to get to class, I was almost sure we would not be able to follow through with our plans to play Super Mario Bros. for the NES.

My misfortune suddenly dissipated when I noticed the rain had stopped and a two-hour window with a semi-open skyline was ripe for the taking. That’s when Emily and I decided it was all systems go for setting up camp on Washington Quad.

After wading through an entire parking lot with no available spots, we settled for a nice, long walk carrying a flat screen television and possibly the most influential gaming console ever produced, the Nintendo NES.

We found an outlet and began to play.

“I’m sorry I dominate at this game,” she says while crushing each level and finding all the hidden points. The side scrolling platformer, released in 1985 was a massive success for the Nintendo Corporation and launched Mario as the highest grossing video game character of all time.

Finally, Emily lost all of her lives and turned the reigns over to me. Sadly enough, my beloved childhood memories did nothing to help my skill at the game. Sure, when I was younger I cruised through the game like a pro. I’m blaming it on all the games I’ve had to play since then. Needless to say, my inner kid was very upset with my performance.

During our session, we encountered many students who shared the same nostalgic awe that we did. Considering we are all striving so hard to become adults, it was nice to see so many students willing to reflect on the golden days.

A huge thanks to Emily for all that she did. Not many people can say they reached the turtle ninjas playing on Washington quad.

21
Oct
10

Super Smashing with Jeffrey Lue

Jeff (far right) and myself (center) playing with some new friends. Photo credit: Jimi Gipple

There are few games that define the ultimate dorm room gaming experience. Super Smash Bros. is one of them.

Jeff is a senior business major who began playing Smash his freshman year while living in Ellicott hall as part of the Gemstone program. While sitting on the sundial the other night, he recalled the many hours wasted playing inside the dorms.

To make sure we weren’t “wasting” our time, we decided to haul a hefty TV onto the middle of the mall and let our inner gamers stir up some on-campus ruckus-rousing.

What started off as Jeff whooping my Yoshi tail with Samus turned into a memorable outdoor gaming event at the heart of UM.

We only stayed for an hour, but we played with a pair of salsa dancers, a member of the FreeThought club, and a runner preparing for his Marine marathon (not forgetting to bring two extra controllers was a miracle. Instead, my bucket head forgot to eat dinner).

After a consistent string of victories for Jeff, he was finally dethroned by the marathon runner, a resident of Garret Hall, who then decided it was good time to continue his nightly jog. Good thinking on his part, Jeff is about as nice at losing smash as Peach is at competitive tea-partying.

Throughout the session, we were greeted by dozens of spectators who took a few minutes to watch me lose every game. Although humiliating, everyone was excited seeing a bunch of strangers whoop up on Yoshi. Then again, who wouldn’t?

For those interested, we’ll be doing this again. If you have a game you’d love to play, shoot me an e-mail at jasdkramer@gmail.com

12
Oct
10

From One Gamer to Another

I would like to dedicate this first post to my family, friends, and professors who put up with my many obsessions– one of them, obviously, being video games.

Another is cheese, but that’s not what this blog is about.

Gaming is undergoing a sort of revolution. Everyone, in some way, is playing them. Whether it be on a console, PC, mobile phone, or Internet, the gaming community is more diverse now than ever before.

I love games, but I can’t keep up with them. Which is probably why I’ve started this blog—to see for myself what games you guys play.

I look forward to seeing what happens…

Play on

Jk