Sammy Awards showcase top video games from UCSC game design students

Microsoft, Google, and Electronic Arts join the Baskin School of Engineering and Center for Games and Playable Media in awards program at Rio Theater on Friday, June 15

2011 grand prize team

Grand Prize winners Syz E.G. at the 2011 Sammy Awards. (Photo courtesy of CGPM)

UC Santa Cruz students, faculty, and industry partners will gather at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz on Friday, June 15, at 7 p.m. for the second annual Sammy Awards, recognizing the best games created by students in the top-ranked computer game design program at the Baskin School of Engineering. The biggest local gaming event of the year, the awards show is open to the public; tickets are $5 and only available online.

Around 15 undergraduate teams will compete for prizes such as the Design Innovation Award, Technical Achievement Award, Visual Art Award, Audio Award, and the Grand Prize. Award winners are chosen by a panel of judges that includes representatives from Microsoft, Google, Electronic Arts, and Pixar, as well as independent game companies Midoki, Machine Zone, and Rumble Games, and local Santa Cruz game companies GRL Games and Gaijin Games. There is also a Peer Choice Award that reflects the vote of the audience.

"This is a really fun event. Last year we had some parents bring their high school kids, and they loved it," said Jane Pinckard, associate director of the Center for Games and Playable Media. "All of the games have some new and innovative elements in them."

One of the judges, John Peters, led last year's winning team in the 2011 Sammy Awards.  He and two of his teammates from the project went on to found a game company in Santa Cruz, Team Krinoid, focusing on mobile and iOS game development.

Many of the games being presented are projects from the senior year capstone course, during which teams of students work throughout their final academic year to design, build, test, and polish a game. Some notable games in the competition this year are: Chroma, a 3-dimensional puzzle game for iOS; Microventures, an 8-bit game playing with generated narrative puzzles; Sonar, a game that uses echolocation for navigation; and Puzzle Defenders, a multiplayer 2-dimensional puzzle game.

More information about the 2012 Sammy Awards is available online.