Welcome to the UCLA Game Lab Summer Institute’s 2020 Student Game Art Exhibition! Our virtual gallery showcases the wonderful, quirky, surprising, inspiring, challenging, and downright fun games and game art projects completed by our students this year. You’ll find all completed student works presented in the gallery below, organized by course title: Game Design, Character Animation, World Building, and Game Programming.

The UCLA Game Lab Summer Institute introduces high school students to game-making as a form of artistic practice, teaching them the techniques and tools that will help them develop analog and digital games that reflect their own creative voice and vision. As you’ll see from the game art projects exhibited below, our students this year have learned a lot about the aesthetic and technical foundations of making games—but just as importantly, we hope they’ve discovered in themselves a life-long ability and desire to express their own, personal ideas through game-making and game art.

Congratulations to all of our students (and their parents!) for their hard work and can-do spirit, despite the challenges of distance learning this year. And a big thank you to Eddo Stern, founder and director of the UCLA Game Lab, to our instructors—Kit, Lena, Miller, and Nick—and to our teaching assistants—Sam, Lee, Michael, Elsie, and Sofia—for their experience, expertise, and dedication. Finally, we also want to acknowledge Co-Directors David O’Grady and Tyler Stefanich for developing, implementing, and overseeing all aspects of the Summer Institute program. We hope you all enjoy the exhibition!

Game Design

Instructor: Kit Kirby, Teaching Assistants: Sam Malabre, Sofia Staab-Gulbenkian

About the course

Game Design introduced students to the fundamentals of game design, such as creating playable characters, designing conflicts and choices, and giving players compelling motivations and goals. Students create their own tabletop game with a focus on game systems, game flow, creativity, and aesthetics. Students not only produced an original game, but they also developed an understanding of game design as a creative discipline and as a mode of artistic expression.

About the instructor

Kit Kirby (she/her) is a game developer, designer, and artist. Her work has incorporated virtual reality, 3D motion capture, music, performance, and fine art materials. She has received a BFA in Graphic Design from Boston University, a Post Baccalaureate in Fine Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), and an MFA in Design Media Arts from UCLA. Having shown in galleries on both coasts, Kit’s work was recently included in the Alliance of Women in Media Arts and Sciences conference in Santa Barbara. She is currently based in Wichita, Kansas.

Exhibition note: All completed student games are presented here as downloadable .pdfs.

Character Animation

Instructor: Lena Weiss, Teaching Assistant: Lee Teng

About the course

Character Animation provided students an introduction in how to create playable characters through modeling and animation. Students developed a character or avatar, which they brought to life through stylized visualization and movement. Students began by learning how to conceptually create compelling characters—and then translate their qualities, attributes, and motivations into visual representation and animation. The final results were animated in After Effects.

About the instructor

Lena Weiss (she/her) is a visual artist, game developer, animator and recent MFA graduate from the Design Media Arts program at UCLA. Lena has taught at UCLA Design Media Arts, and currently creates web content for the UCLA Game Lab. She is also a freelance animator creating music visuals for clients including Steve Aoki, Travis Barker, Fever 333, Yo Gotti, The Used, PartyNextDoor, Wiz Khalifa and Coi Leray. Lena’s games have been featured on major media outlets including Dazed Digital, Kotaku, and Rhizome.org, and have received awards at international game festivals IndieCade and the Hand Eye Society Wordplay Festival.

Exhibition note: All completed student character animations are presented here as looped animations, which can be paused by zooming in (i.e., clicking the + sign).

World Building

Instructor: Miller Klitsner, Teaching Assistant: Michael Luo

About the course

In World Building, students developed the ability to create dynamic, interactive 3D game environments. Students used the game engine application Unity and a kit of assets to make gameworld prototyping quick and fun, while still learning how to use professional game-development software. Key lessons included using prefabs, materials, lighting, sound, motion, and level progression to create a navigable game world by the end of the course.

About the instructor

Miller Klitsner (he/him) is an artist and game developer from the Bay Area. Having encountered toy and game invention at an early age through his father, Miller’s work emphasizes unique mechanics and tactile interfaces. He graduated from UCLA with a BFA in Design Media Arts in 2018, and has worked in augmented reality in Los Angeles and been a member of the Open Plan Collective, a media art group. This past year Miller completed an arts fellowship in Shanghai, where he began developing a simulation of the universe with Shanghai-based Chronus Art Center in a collaboration with Beijing sculptor Yin Xiuzhen. In addition to making games and other digital works, Miller also creates various film projects and participates in live-art performances.

Exhibition note: All completed student gameworld projects are presented here as “walkthrough” videos.

Game Programming

Instructor: Nick Crockett, Teaching Assistant: Elsie Wang

About the course

In Game Programming, students learned the fundamental programming concepts and coding techniques behind making playable, interactive games. Students worked with the game engine application Unity and were introduced to coding lessons using C# scripting to create movement, animation, collisions, NPC behaviors, sound, and text. By the end of the course, students emerged with a complete, interactive 2D game reflecting their own game design ideas.

About the instructor

Nick Crockett (he/him) is a teacher, artist, animator, and game developer from the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains. He holds an MFA from the Carnegie Mellon School of Art and has been a long time member of the UCLA Game Lab. He has exhibited games and animation internationally at screenings, festivals, and exhibitions including at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Northern Spark Festival, Minneapolis; Now Play This Festival, Somerset House, London; the GDC Wild Rumpus Party, San Francisco; Amber Platform Festival, Istanbul; and the UCLA Game Art Festival at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Exhibition note: All completed student games are presented here as “playthrough” videos.

You’ve reached the gallery exit!
Thank you for visiting the Student Game Art Exhibition, brought to you by the UCLA Game Lab Summer Institute class of 2020!
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