Students Game for Glory: Computer Science Department Holds First Video Game Olympics
By KJ ADLER
With an endless supply of pizza and soda nearby, the strains of the Olympic anthem could be heard as organizers kicked off UMW’s First Annual Video Game Olympics last Saturday night in the basement of Trinkle Hall.
Caitlin Goldman, a junior and officer in the computer science club, and faculty sponsor Professor Stephen Davies of the CPSC department were the initial creators of the event.
“We had a holiday party last semester and some students requested that the next event had video games, so we decided to have a video game event going along with this year’s Olympic theme,” said Goldman.”
Everyone was welcome at the event.
“By inviting the whole UMW community, not just the computer science department, we hoped to get people more interested in the department and have them see that we put on an awesome event.”
GameStop joined the UMW CPSC department in sponsoring the event. There was a three dollar entry fee, with the promise that the winner would receive a $100 gift certificate to Best Buy.
“The student involvement was amazing, and this was the key to making the event such a smashing success,” Professor Davies said. “Without the creativity and hard work from students like Jessica Doering, Matt Jones, Trillane Burlar, Caitlin Goldman, and many others, we simply wouldn’t have had the magical evening that we had.”
The event had eight events with fifty participants moving between various rooms of competition.
The games played included Ms. Pac-Man, Wii Bowling, Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Unreal Tournament and StarCraft. Each room was set up with a projector screen and a judge to record scores.
According to Joel Peck, a senior and president of the Association for Computing Machinery Club, each game is judged differently since they all have different mechanics.
Any game that relies solely on the individual (Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Ms. Pacman, Wii Bowling) is based on high score. The remaining four games (Starcraft, Unreal Tournament, Super Smash Brothers Melee and MarioKart) involve a medal round since each round plays differently depending on who is involved.
Lauren Harkness, a junior, participated as both a planner of the Olympics and a competitor for the gold.
“Guitar Hero is my favorite, absolutely!” says Harkness. “The VGO committee started with a huge list of popular games and we slowly but surely narrowed it down to eight events, each in a different category.”
Other students like Evan Henry, a senior, heard about the competition in passing and came into the games with a winning strategy.
“I can’t believe how many participants there are here,” Henry said. “I hope to win through my score in StarCraft. But with so many other contestants, I know I will have to play my best game in all of these categories if I hope to win.”
The games finally came to a close around 11 p.m. While each contestant put forth their best effort, only one gold medal was awarded.
The bronze went to Will Boyd, silver to Kurt Koller, and the coveted gold to Yun Kim.
Kim was stoked to win the grand prize.
“I entered the competition with no expectation of winning, but I knew that I would do well in at least a few events, such as DDR and Smash Bros,” Kim said. “As for the prize money, I think it’ll go into my PS3 fund, since I really want to play Gran Turismo 5, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy XIII when they are finally released.”
Organizers knew the event was a success when students began asking when the next VGO would be held.
“We will definitely host this event again,” says Goldman. “The only problems we had were some lagging with Unreal Tournament, so we would hope to correct that next time.
Goldman hopes for an even bigger crowd at next year’s event.
“Also, next time, we would love to have more people participate and maybe even have more games,” Goldman said.