Electronic Boogalo

Wichita State students create sandwich-themed game at weekend eSports convention


Brian Hayes

From left: Jesse Pritchard, Brandon Jones, Steven Reust and Nathan Branded work on coding a game from start to finish at the Wichita eSports Convention. The group was competing in the ICT Game Jam for a cash prize. (Feb. 5, 2017)

Four men, four computers, one monitor, one game and one theme: sandwiches.

These were the basic ingredients for Wichita State senior Jesse Pritchard’s group involved in the ICT Game Jam, a game creation competition with cash prizes for the best games.

“It’s gonna be a mess, but it’ll be fun,” Pritchard said.

ICT Game Jam was just one of the many activities and competitions held in the Experiential Engineering Building for the Wichita eSports convention Friday.

Roughly 30 participants gathered, formed teams and sat around tables with computer monitors to create a working game within 41 hours.

Jim Rice, WSU alumnus and event coordinator, announced the sandwich theme for the contest and bid the contestants to start creating about 7 p.m.

“The theme helps people get kick-started,” Rice said. “Generally it’s take it or leave it.

“It’s cool to get people’s interpretation of a theme.”

By Saturday afternoon, Pritchard and his four-member group had tentatively decided upon creating a sandwich construction/puzzle game named “Sandwich Boogaloo.”

“We’re thinking of a game where you collect pieces of a sandwich to make a whole one,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard and senior Brandon Jones had competed in two game jams before the Wichita eSports convention. 

Their first game ended as a Pac-Man-like game where the player collects insulin, because the theme was diabetes.

Pritchard and Jones said their second game, a survival space action shooter called “Galactic Roam,” was successful and they finished in second place as a two-man team.

“People actually came back and played the game more than once,” Pritchard said. “I like to think we learned a lot.”

This time, Nathan Brandes, team art designer, and alumnus Steve Reust, who is currently searching for a job after graduating with a degree in electrical engineering last semester, joined Pritchard and Jones.

“I joined because of a 100 percent lack of anything [else] to do,” Reust said.

Despite it being his first game jam experience, he said he wasn’t nervous.

“Fortunately, Jesse (Pritchard) doesn’t expect much from me, so that’s helpful,” Reust said.

By Saturday afternoon, Reust said he had managed to write a program that plays a sound. He said he taught himself by using Google.

Pritchard said their controversial methods put them at a disadvantage.

“Most people bring their own game engine,” Pritchard said. “We’re making a game from scratch, doing everything ourselves.”

Game engines help people plan out their games quickly and easily. Pritchard said he thinks they did not catch up to other teams because of their decision to start from scratch.

“It’s usually late Saturday night that we actually have a game,” Pritchard said.

One advantage of not using a game engine, according to Pritchard, is not being constrained in creativity.

According to Jones, creating the game from the ground up gives him an appreciation of how game engines work.

Jones, a computer science major, said game creation is a hobby of his, but he would love to find a full-time job creating games if he could.

“I enjoy just being thrown in,” Jones said. “At the end (of the event) I feel accomplished.”