UCSB Gaucho Game Lab

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Illustrated by Bridget Rios

Veronica Vo

Features Editor

On March 30, UCSB students from professor Pradeep Sen’s “Intro to Video Game Development” class gathered outside the University Center to showcase their games. On eight computers set up around the building entrance, a selection of students’ video games were available for the public to play.

Sen’s students, who are computer engineering and computer science majors, produced a total of 18 games for this course, which is part of UCSB’s newly developed Gaucho Game Lab program.

This is their first showcase since the course began in 2020. “A lot of people don’t know about our program,” he said. “But we want to gradually have people find out about game development at UCSB.”

Sen said the showcase encourages students to work harder at polishing their games and emphasized that even if they don’t go into game development, it is important for these students to learn the software engineering skills to make real-world products. 

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

The showcase is also a chance for students to present their projects, which are usually only seen by their professors. This was one of the best aspects of the event for Robert Gee, a third-year computer science student at UCSB. 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.

The inspiration behind the story was a vegan high school friend, but Gee 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.

Dunne’s video game was inspired by the game “Quake,” and it came to him in the shower one day, he said. 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 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 [computer science] classes here … so I thought that was really fun.”The students’ games can be accessed here.

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