Students try out one of eight video games created by Pradeep Sen’s Intro to Video Game Development class | Credit: Lilli McKinney, UCSB College of Engineering.

UC Santa Barbara students from Professor Pradeep Sen’s Intro to Video Game Development class showcased their games outside the University Center Wednesday, on eight computers set up around the building entrance, all available for the public to play.

Sen’s students, made up of computer engineering and computer science majors, produced a total of 18 games for this course, as part of UCSB’s newly developed Gaucho Game Lab Program. This is the first game showcase since the course began in 2020. “A lot of people don’t know about our program,” Sen said. “But we want to gradually have people find out about game development at UCSB.”

The showcase encourages students to work harder at polishing their games, Sen said, and emphasizes the importance of learning software engineering skills to make real-world products, even if the students don’t go into game development. 

Jason Dunne’s “Soldier One” | Credit: Courtesy

Sen also said the Gaucho Game Lab Program could be helpful for high school students who may not know what they want to major in for college but are familiar with video games. “[The program] could be a way to get them interested in computing,” he said. 

The showcase is also a chance for students to present their projects, which are usually only seen by their professors. Robert Gee, a third-year computer science student at UCSB, said he was glad to be able to share his quarter-long project with other students and see them have fun playing his game. Gee’s video game, Vegan’s Revenge, puts the player in the position of a farmer trying to defend his farm from an evil vegan scientist. The scientist has created plants to destroy the animal farming industry, and the player controls farm animals to fight back against the plants.

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The inspiration behind the story was a vegan high school friend, but Gee said he also finds the ethics behind the game interesting. He explained how rather than playing as a vegan character trying to do good in the world, one would play as the farmer trying to stop the vegan. “There’s no real good person or bad person,” Gee said. “It’s all perspective.”

Jason Dunne, a third-year computer science major, is another student that participated in the Gaucho Game Lab Program this past quarter. Dunne’s video game, Soldier One, is a multiplayer first-person shooter where players have been cloned by a mad scientist and must fight their clones to win.

Robert Gee’s “Vegan’s Revenge” | Credit: Courtesy

Dunne’s video game — which was an idea that came to him in the shower one day, he said — was inspired by the game Quake. Although he doesn’t necessarily plan to work in game development, Dunne is glad to have learned so much about game design through this program. 

Gee said his experience in this course with professor Sen was a very positive one, and he hopes people interested in game design look into taking it in the future. “It was really fun being able to come up with my own idea and bring that to life,” Gee said. “That’s not something you get to do in a lot of CS classes here … so I thought that was really fun.” 

The students’ games can be accessed here.

Siddharth Deshpande’s “A Fool’s Loop” | Credit: Courtesy

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