The world’s largest student-run game jam, known as Chillennium, returns this weekend to the Hildebrand Equine Complex in College Station.
Entrants will have 48 hours to develop a game entirely from scratch based on this year’s theme, which will be revealed during the opening ceremony on Friday. Participants will be able to compete in teams of up to four or fly solo. After the allotted time, game industry professionals will judge the teams’ creations on sound, design, art, programming and originality, said Amanda Golla, event director.
“We have so many different genres, interpretations and playing styles. Most of them are developed for PC, but if anyone wants to try something different, we are always ready to welcome them because we want to make it, first and foremost, a great experience for them,” said Golla.
Golla said that while Chillennium is a contest at its core, it really is a learning experience that provides participants of all skill levels the opportunity to develop their own unique creations.
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“A lot of people don’t necessarily have game development programs in their school, they’ve never had a chance to experience it, and it’s a really good opportunity to be exposed to it around a group of like-minded people,” Golla said. .
Andre Thomas, associate professor of practice and academic advisor for Chillennium, said the event is a good resume builder sponsored by Electronic Arts, Gearbox Software, Epic Games, Insomniac, Robot Entertainment, Texas A&M University Visualization, Texas A&M University Architecture and many others. A team of senior Insomniac employees will provide students with advice and feedback to help them improve their games, Thomas said.
“I hear every time these professionals come out, ‘Wow, this is an amazing game jam. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s because of our students,’” Thomas said. “The Aggies are so careful and diligent in organizing and designing events that everyone walks away with an amazing experience.”
Since its inception as a group collaboration between Texas A&M University and Kansas State University in 2015, the event has grown to host approximately 350 students from around the world, said Jocylin Lopez, Chillennium’s social media manager.
“The year before we had two teams from China, and this year we have teams from Louisiana State University, the University of Missouri, we have several different flagship schools in Texas like the University of Houston, the ‘University of Texas and a few from Prairie View,’ Golla said.
After a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas said this year’s event will feel like a brand new start with a new team of student organizers.
“My favorite part is going to be seeing the games they make and being able to play them. That’s where it all pays off,” Golla said.