December 9, 2023

MENOMONIE — Ready for battle? A team of University of Wisconsin-Stout game design students has added a twist to the classic game of chess with Checkmight, one of many projects that will be on display by School of Art and Design students as the fall semester wraps up.

Two of the university’s biggest public events, the Stout Game Expo and SOAD Senior Show, are culminating events for students to share their hard work and creative endeavors.

The Stout Game Expo is western Wisconsin’s largest game developers’ event and will feature the creative works of about 250 students. SGX is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, in the upper level of the Memorial Student Center.

First-year to senior students in game design and development-art and the game design concentration in computer science will share their virtual reality, interactive experiences and indie games. A Master of Fine Arts in design graduate student will also share their thesis game. All digital games will be available to play online after Wednesday.

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SGX is an opportunity for students from both university colleges — the College of Arts, Humanities and Sciences; and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management — to come together and showcase their creativity and joy of games with the public. Students also have the opportunity to collaborate with other university students from across the state.

Cole Nugteren, a junior with a double major in GDD and computer science, worked with fiver other students to design Checkmight, a party game for people who are bad at chess. But there’s a twist — the pieces fight back.

Players can test their skills in classic chess or on one of the custom chess boards. It is a two-player, controller-compatible game that can be played on a computer keyboard, with controllers or both. They’ve shared a tutorial on YouTube.

“My favorite thing about the GDD program is getting to work with cool people to make games,” said Nugteren, of Minneapolis, who worked on the game’s art, animation, engineering and sound.

Team members who designed Checkmight with Nugteren are:

  • Q Bryant, a GDD senior from Shakopee, Minnesota; lead, design and animation.
  • Elliott Duffy, a GDD junior from St. Paul; user interface art and typography.
  • Anthony Klotz, a CS junior from Waterloo; user interface engineer.
  • Sam Mayer, a CS junior from Chaska, Minnesota; fighting engineer and sound.
  • Mitchell VonEschen; music. VonEschen is a junior studying jazz piano, composition and math at Lawrence University in Appleton. This is the second SGX game he has collaborated on with UW-Stout students.

“The inspiration for Checkmight was an indie game called Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate, as well as fighting games like Guilty Gear and Street Fighter,” Bryant said. “The best part of the program is its project-oriented nature, as it helps me learn specific skills that I’m interested in.”

Duffy and Klotz both enjoy the freedom to solve problems, to “make changes on the fly” and work on any part of a game experience. “I like being able to look at something and ideate how to make the concept a reality,” Duffy said.

The School of Art & Design Senior Show will feature capstone projects by nearly 120 graduating seniors from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16. SOAD students will display their creative works in exhibits throughout Applied Arts and Micheels Hall.

  • Video production: Capstone creators and select animators will premiere their work in Room 210, on the biggest screen on campus. Screening will loop throughout the evening.
  • Graphic design and interactive media: Room 221E.
  • Industrial design: Rooms 216 and 217.
  • Interior design: Room 220. A lighting design show will be in Room 219.
  • The Studio Art Exhibition will be on display in Gallery 209. The show is based on a wide variety of media, from comics to sculpture to photography.

Metals, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking and drawing exhibitions and sales by students will be throughout the building. And “To Freedom,” an exhibit representing the music, art and culture of Estonia, Poland and Ukraine, is on display in Furlong Gallery. The School of Art and Design’s BFAs in animation and digital media, and game design and development-art are ranked nationally by the Princeton Review and Animation Career Review. MFA in design was ranked No. 6 in the nation last spring for game design among public universities and colleges.


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