Members of the UT Electronic Game Developers Society, or EGaDS, do more than play video games — they create them too.
The organization, which has been around for less than a decade, is composed of members from a variety of fields including computer science, fine arts and radio, television and film. Corbin Rogerson, a computer science and linguistics senior and officer of EGaDS, said the club serves as a resource for anyone interested in creating electronic games.
“The purpose of the club is to support people’s interests in game development,” Rogerson said. “That means having industry leaders come down and give talks or hosting workshops and giving advice.”
Paul Toprac is faculty advisor to EGaDS and the associate director of the Game and Mobile Media Applications Program, an interdisciplinary certificate program. Toprac said the club helps teach members skills beyond just developing video games.
“[Electronic games] are the artistic expression of the 21st century,” Toprac said. “It doesn’t even matter what field [EGaDS members] decide to go into, the idea is that you have a technical skill, and you use that technical skill to develop some artifact that is valued by other people. If you learn that, you’ve learned the 21st century skills”
Toprac said the EGaDS community is unique because it includes students other than those interested in programming.
“The people in this organization are artists, designers, sound and music people, and programmers,” Toprac said. “Everyone does not necessarily know how to do everything, but they just have to do what their function is and collaborate with other people.”
Rogerson said sometimes computer science students can get bogged down in the programming component of game development, but the key is to think about the process as whole.
“I can program a game fine but no one wants to play a game that looks like little pixels on a screen that move back and forth,” Rogerson said. “As much fun as that is for me to make the game, it is also good to get the experience of having real artists work with you.”
One way EGaDS inspires collaboration between these different fields is through events called game jams, which the club hosts a few times a year. Rogerson said game jams are hackathon-like events in which teams must work together to create a video game in a set period of time, usually 24 hours. He said while the end product of these events are small, low-quality games, the event itself is a learning experience.
“Game jams are all about making a prototype that you can work on,” Rogerson said. “During the game jams I’ve been to, people love to play others’ games and see how they work and offer advice.”
While EGaDS currently is focused on small-scale game development,
Rogerson said he hopes the club will grow to include more semester-long projects.
Rogerson joined EGaDS before he became a computer science student, and said he ultimately enjoys being part of the club for both its informational and social aspects.
“Everyone here in the club is passionate about video games,” he said. “If you’re here, you like games in one way or another and that really adds to a sense of community.”