CMU team wins digital game grant

Last fall, mtvU and Cisco Systems set out to find college students with innovative ideas that could help develop digital content for the next generation. A team of Carnegie Mellon graduate students, Arnab Basu and Vance Wallace, have been awarded a $25,000 grant to do exactly this.

Their winning program, among nine others, came from a call for submissions issued last year from mtvU; the chosen greenlit programs are a combination of short-form programming, gaming, blogging, instant and text messaging, and other forms of interaction that can enhance the digital mainstream on mtvU. These innovative and original projects will be featured on-air, online, and on campus for the next six months.

mtvU is a 24-hour college network owned by MTV. Their intention with the contest was to select one group of individuals from the entire naiton to help develop the broadband content of tomorrow that their network thrives on. The company offers opportunities for students to help improve and program mtvU as they see fit. Their partners in this effort, Cisco Systems, are a worldwide supplier of networking hardware and software. “The student groups on our first Digital Incubator development team are pushing the boundaries of digital media, and we’re proud to hand over our network as a laboratory for their creative passion,” said Stephen Friedman, the general manager of mtvU, in a Cisco Systems press release.

Scheduled to be released in September, the idea proposed by Basu and Wallace involves an online game creation tournament that would be populated with games cultivated and promoted by college students from across the country. Each entry will be submitted to a competitive bracket where advancement will be determined by how often the game is played and the number of votes it gets from college students. The top four will be showcased on mtvU’s “Gamer’s Ball” tour, which will be visiting campuses across the United States in the fall. Their main concern with this idea was to make this tournament a successful national platform for college students to promote games they have developed.

Basu believes that mtvU’s collaboration will help shape the broadband technologies of tomorrow. “Broadband programming is becoming more mainstream than ever before. Consumer demand has reached a critical threshold where viewership warrants watching only the money shots. We are excited to provide a platform for college students, who are at the threshold of defining the next generation of gaming and entertainment, to showcase their game development prowess.” said Basu when describing his involvement. “Our ultimate hope is that the Gamer’s Ball Developers Tournament becomes an annual fixture in the calendars of game development programs and universities across the nation for students to compete for the title of the best student-produced online games.”