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USC Gamers Spend Night At The Getty Museum For Game Jam

Morgan Greenwald |
February 23, 2015 | 11:56 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

For students in USC’s Game Program, a 30-hour game jam at the Getty this past weekend was a night at the museum that would put Ben Stiller to shame.

Equip with pillows, granola bars and charging stations, approximately 30 students gathered in a conference room at the Getty Center, where they were allotted 30 hours to create a video game prototype based on a challenge.

Students Trevor Dietz and Bryan Edelman begin to prepare their prototype. (Morgan Greenwald/Neon Tommy)
Students Trevor Dietz and Bryan Edelman begin to prepare their prototype. (Morgan Greenwald/Neon Tommy)

“Their challenge- it’s a little vague and very simple,” said Susan Edwards, editor of the news and web department at the Getty. “It’s just to create a game that gets people to look at works of art- and not a game that you play on your phone, but that actually gets people to look at something. It can be anything.” 

The USC Games and Getty Center collaboration came about after a Playthink event in October called ‘Games and the Museum.’ After an animated conversation between students and Getty officials, USC Games director Tracy Fullerton elected to organize the game jam and “see what students can make.” 

“We hope that they come up with ideas and prototypes that could be extended into actual experiences in the future,” said Fullerton. “You’re not gonna make a finished product, but you’re going to hopefully come up with a seed of an idea that might go on to become a finished product.” 

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After two hours exploring the Getty premises, students were sent off to spend the next 28 hours creating their prototypes, which were not limited to any one digital platform.  

In the conference room, students rapidly began to brainstorm ideas about how visitors might interact with the artwork using their technology. 

Trevor Dietz and Bryan Edelman, both students in the interactive media and games program, teamed up after their tour of the grounds to create less of a “passive” museum experience. For the duo, the challenge was about being “experimental” and bringing an “emotional draw” to the artwork at the Getty.

"Our recognition was that going to the museum is a very passive experience," said Dietz. "You walk through and you look at it and it really takes an appreciation for the art already to go in and look at it and get something out of it. It's basically like, how do you make a museum more fun for visitors?"

"We're using technology to give people that greater sense of appreciation without already being indoctrinated into that really deep understanding of it," Edelman added. "We're gonna use technology to give that experience without any negative effects adding to the art itself." 

At the end of the 30 hours, each student's prototype will be judged by a selected group of panelists. Among the judges were Todd Martens, an interactive entertainment writer at the Los Angeles Times; Sara Thacher, a transmedia producer and experience designer; and Peter Marx, Los Angeles' first Chief Innovation Technology Officer. 

A lot came out of this weekend's game jam for both the Getty and the students involved. Not only did students from USC receive the "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to create something for a real institution, but the Getty was also given "a seed of good ideas," said Fullerton.

Fullerton believes that the prototypes the students create will integrate well into the museum since both represent various mediums of creative voice.

"Playfulness is at the heart of artistic expression," said Fullerton. "And so to take playfulness and then use that as the seed of the visitor experience in an art museum is a great way to bring art full circile." 

Reach Staff Reporter Morgan Greenwald here. Follow her on Twitter here



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