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Games to lift your spirits

On April 22, at 11 a.m., EAE students will hold “EAE Launch 2020,” an all-day event in which they show off and discuss the games they have produced this year.

At a time when we need video games more than ever, students in the University of Utah’s nationally ranked Entertainment Arts & Engineering video game development program are here to help.

On Wednesday, April 22, from 11 a.m. until about 7 p.m., EAE students will hold their annual “EAE Launch 2020,” an all-day event in which they will show off and discuss the games they have produced this year, most of which will later be available for free download on distribution services such as Steam.

Normally, the event is held in-person at EAE’s studios on the University of Utah campus. But in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and in an effort to maintain physical distancing guidelines, the program will hold its first virtual “EAE Launch.” It will take place on the live video streaming service, Twitch, by clicking on the U’s official Twitch channel.

The graduating class of 2020 will present more than 45 student-produced games, showing trailers, live gameplay and interviews with the student teams. The event will be entirely produced with faculty and students safely presenting their work from home.

“We’ve put together a remarkable schedule of streaming content,” says Michael Young, EAE’s director. “Using Twitch, virtual visitors can see a collection of amazing student-made games, hear about remarkable EAE research that changes people’s lives and get the inside scoop on the game development process from the student creators themselves.”

There will be a wide variety of games on display including:

  • “Chromalition,” a game with rollerblading graffiti artists.
  • “We Went Back,” a psychological horror game that takes place on a moon base.
  • “Chicken Chuckin,” a demolition derby game with exploding chickens.
  • “Kane’s Shadow,” a rhythm-based game about confronting past trauma.

The Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab (The Gapp Lab)—a collaboration between EAE, the Center for Medical Innovation and the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library—will also be showing off its new medical- and education-based games and applications.

Video games are playing an important role in helping people during the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization is supporting the #PlayApartTogether initiative launched by game developers worldwide to encourage people to keep themselves entertained with video games while practicing physical distancing. WHO officials also believe games can be used to spread important messages about the pandemic such as observing safety measures and hand hygiene and can be a tool to safely connect family and friends.

“We’re at a crucial moment in defining outcomes of this pandemic. Games industry companies have a global audience—we encourage all to #PlayApartTogether,” said Ray Chambers, WHO ambassador for global strategy, wrote in a tweet last month. “More physical distancing + other measures will help to flatten the curve + save lives.”

Entertainment Arts & Engineering, under the U’s College of Engineering, launched in 2007 and has quickly become one of the most highly regarded video game development programs in the nation. This year, EAE was ranked the No. 1 public university in games worldwide, according to the latest rankings by The Princeton Review.

To see a schedule for the Twitch stream and a list of the game demos on display during “EAE Launch 2020,” click here.