On a recent weekend, Central Michigan University gamers geeked out to a span of 40 years of video games they played over the course of 40 consecutive hours. The gaming marathon started with a game from 1977 named Combat, and at around 8 a.m. the next morning as students – surrounded by empty cans of Mountain Dew and pizza boxes – were in the early 1990s playing Super Mario World. Surrounded by monitors broadcasting the games in an active learning classroom, students learned about video game design through the years as they played all of their favorite childhood games.
"I think it's easy to implement gaming into learning," said Midland junior Molly Rossman. "We are having fun, but at the same time evaluating what is working or not working in these games for when we develop games."
Tony Morelli, assistant professor of computer science, brought in many of his old consoles for the gaming marathon. He nodded to Atari, Super Nintendo and Playstation boxes as he clicked away at his own controller alongside the students.
"The coolest part of doing an event like this for me is seeing the progression of games through the years," Morelli said. "From a game development standpoint, it's really fascinating to see how things have changed."
Rossman, an art major with minors in interior design and media design production and technology, has a unique perspective when looking at games throughout the years. Unlike Morelli, she focuses more on the artistry of the game environments, not the development and coding necessary to interact with a game.
"Games have become much more cinematic throughout the years," she said, adding that her dream job would be designing digital environments at
Bethesda, makers of her favorite game, Skyrim.
Rossman started the
CMU Game Development and Design Club in 2013 with Morelli's help, quickly learning that gaming was a popular pastime on campus. She admits many students use it as an outlet or a way to relax, but believes any student can get into playing video games.
"Gaming is easy, there is not a huge learning curve, and anyone can join us." Rossman said. "We hope more students learn about it and come out to play with us when we have marathons."
Learn more about
CMU's GDDC and video game development courses on the
computer science website.