UPE Prepares for GGJ, the World’s Largest Game Development Hackathon

UPE Prepares for GGJ, the World’s Largest Game Development Hackathon
Two months ago, Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE), the largest student organization for technology at Florida International University (FIU), prepared for Global Game Jam (GGJ) with exciting game-related activities and workshops.

So, what exactly is Global Game Jam? GGJ is recognized as the world’s largest game development hackathon, and a site is annually hosted by FIU’s very own UPE. To prepare, UPE ShellHacks, UPE’s program responsible for hosting hackathons, held a virtual event called HackNight. HackNight occurred on Wednesday, January 27th @ 6:00PM EST with the participation of over 30 individuals. These attendees were given details on GGJ as well as the opportunity to interact with other hackers through a team building activity.

Kevin Losada, Co-Director of UPE ShellHacks, acknowledges HackNight as means of “encouraging new potential hackers to participate in hackathons and other hacker events.” He also reflects on the drive behind HackNight events by emphasizing its mission to help beginners get started in the hacker community regardless of how small the event turnout may be.

Aside from the genuineness behind the hard-working board members, many are attracted to UPE because of its plentiful and useful tech-related workshops too. A day after HackNight, for instance, UPE Make hosted their first event for the semester. UPE Make is a UPE program designed to teach students hardware development knowledge and skills, which is exactly what happened at their Introduction to Arduinos Workshop. With the same level of participation as the event prior, the audience was able to get accustomed to the ins and outs of one of the most popular microcontrollers and learn the essentials of Arduino programming. They also learned how to virtually create circuits to interact with components like LEDs, potentiometers, distance sensors, and more.

When asked to describe the event, Miguel De Jesus, Director of UPE Make, recalls how he felt when he attended his first Arduino workshop; connecting with his members and teaching them a new topic greatly reminded him of his strong drive to learn in the past. Reinvigorated by the excitement of his students, De Jesus hopes to impact them by cultivating this drive and further expanding the UPE Make community.

Following UPE Make was UPE Code with the second installment of their Introduction to Game Development Workshop series. The first part had been presented a week before, on Friday, January 22nd, in which 65 participants were introduced to Unity, the #1 development platform for creating 2D and 3D video games, and C#, the chosen game programming language. In the added segment, the attendees continued working with Unity and C# and dived into animations, backgrounds, and limiting player movement. Considering how the series is a new feature to the program, courtesy of UPE Code Director Zackary Santana, the turnout is quite impressive, and we cannot wait to see what else is in store!

After an eventful week of game-related events, the time for Global Game Jam finally arrived. As previously mentioned, GGJ is the world’s largest game development hackathon. By being open to those of all academic backgrounds and skill levels, the hackathon brings our community together to create awesome games for a whole weekend (Friday, January 29th to Sunday, January 31st).

In the span of two full days, 40 jammers attended multiple workshops, such as GGJ Unreal Engine Workshop, GGJ 3D Modeling Workshop, and GGJ Virtual Reality Workshop. UPE ShellHacks also provided a couple of fun activities, like icebreakers and Among Us intermissions.

In the end, “The Binding of Matty: Lost Chipotle Soldier Chronicles 358/2 days remix” won the competition. As assumed by its title, the game is highly entertaining and was created by the joint effort of Jean Santana, Joseph Adams, Anna Organvidez, Jonathan Muniz, and Henry Rivas.

Rivas comments on his team’s win and said, “For me, this win is reflective of how much fun both my team and I had in creating a project that we can all be proud of! When we put our creative talents to compliment each other’s skillsets, anything is possible! When you focus on having fun with the process of making a game, the results of said project speaks tenfold!”. Big congratulations to the win!

To view the winning game and the other submissions, please feel free to check them out here.

As for the activities and workshops for the week, recordings are listed below:

If you’re interested in the organization and/or any of the programs, our UPE community welcomes you on https://discord.gg/upefiu. See you there!

Written by: Liana Louise Adaza

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