The Amazing Race: Youngstown Game Jam

By Tanner Mondok 

Aspiring video game developers gathered at the McDonough Museum of Art over the weekend for the purpose of a 48-hour game jam.

During those two days, groups are tasked in creating a working prototype of a videogame that fits into a specific theme.

The event was put together by Youngstown Game Developers and featured mainly former and current Youngstown State University students.

Kendra Corpier, an organizer for the Youngstown Game Developers, hosted the “local-ish” April Fools Game Jam. Some of the groups that participated traveled as far as Pittsburgh to take part in the event.

“We’re Youngstown local but this isn’t a student organization so anyone can come,” she said.

Corpier said that this year there were 10 teams compared to last year when there were seven.

All teams participating had to develop their games with a specific theme in mind. This year, the theme was “deception.” Unintentionally, a common theme that was present among a few of the games were cats.

Cat Playground

Brian McCombs, a former YSU student and computer programmer, experienced a game jam for the first time over the weekend.

“This is my first time here and I’m still kind of a newbie when it comes to making games so I made mine pretty simple,” he said.

His game, “Cat Playground”, involves you playing as a cat while trying to avoid various objects.

“You’re just a cat on a big field. You have to get across it but there’s parts of the field that will randomly disappear that you have to avoid,” he said. “There’s cat toys out there that you have to pick up before you can make it to the end. They move around which make them hard to find.”

113 Shady Lane

Nick Uroseva and Tom Goldthwait, both YSU alumni, spent a lot of time considering the theme of deception.

“We were trying to think of all different kinds of mechanics that used deception,” Uroseva said. “Let’s create a game that uses a lot of hidden information. We ended up landing on a game where one player is trying to prevent the other player from achieving a task.”

Besides deception, their game “113 Shady Lane” utilized a horror theme.

“Our game is set in a haunted house. One player plays someone investigating that house trying to find the three items needed to escape,” Uroseva said. “The other player is the ghost trying to stop them.”

Uroseva said that the characters both have the ability to manipulate light or their visibility with the press of a button.

“The human player is completely obscured in darkness until the user holds down a button to turn on their lantern,” he said. “The ghost is constantly visible until you hold down a button to make it invisible.”

Goldthwait said that there a few sound effects in the game that are activated by the player.

“If you listen there’s a piano sound there so there’s a lot of things in the environment which have sound effects tied to them,” he said. “The piano actually has two sound effects. Bumping into a wall produces a small sound cue and going through a door produces a door creak sound.”

Rainbow Kitten Adventures VR

Alex Bonnette, an electrical engineering student at YSU, said that he and his team developed “Rainbow Kitten Adventures VR,” a virtual reality game for the Oculus Rift.

“The idea behind this game is that usually when it comes to the Rift, there’s only one player. One person is using the rift and they’re like ‘This is awesome’ while the other player is standing by watching and it’s boring,” he said. “So we designed a game where one person is on the Rift while another is on the keyboard and mouse.”

He said that the person using the Rift is an alien god shooting fire balls while the person using the keyboard and mouse are running around a small field collecting batteries and trying to fire a weapon to kill the god before the god kills them.


To wrap up the 48-hour event, all the teams gathered together and presented what they accomplished to the rest of the groups and the world via a livestream on YouTube.

Kendra Corpier added that Youngstown Game Developer’s annual Game Jam is great for everyone because it doesn’t matter what your experience level is.

“It’s free and we give free food,” she said. “But what’s important about it is that it doesn’t matter what your experience level is on it because you can be anywhere from beginner to totally experienced and still take something away from it.”

Corpier added those who are interested can expect the Game Jam to be back around the same time again next year.