NYU’s Game Culture

June 15, 2015 • Let's Gamify!

I may have put my solo Hyrule-saving on hold in the last four months, but my semester wasn’t completely gameless! NYU is HUGE on gaming. In fact, HUGE is an understatement. There are clubs where people get together to play different games every week, and there are even game-specific groups for just about any multiplayer game you can think of. I kind of disappeared on the generic gaming club I had originally joined because I found something else that suited my interests more – NYU Smash, a group dedicated to playing competitive Super Smash Bros Melee every week.

Super Smash Bros Melee is “the game” for me. By “the game” I mean that one game to each of us that’s special because we grew up with lots of memories of it. I’ll never forget the weekend Smash missions my best friend and I undertook when we were 11 years old – teaming up as Link and Roy to battle pairs of CPU characters on level 9. And succeeding! However, at NYU Smash, I was a complete newb. The group is consisted of lots of guys and a few girls who can wreck me without taking damage! They didn’t mind my newb-ness though; the top player in the group even coached me through some of the competitive skills. It’s just unfortunate that I had to miss a lot of the fests and tournaments being a busy graduate student.

Other than NYU Smash, I took an elective on designing and developing games and made my very first game (that will be a whole other post on its own) because my graduate program is located at the famous studio called the NYU Game Center! The NYU Game Center was opened in 2012 after acquiring the School of Engineering and a lot of new technology resources. There’s an entire major called Game Design now (I am in a different major that shares the same studio space). Our studio hosts lots of gaming events and talks with speakers from the game industry, like Freddie Prinze Jr from Dragon Age Inquisition. But most importantly, every Thursday we have an event called Playtest Thursday where Game Design majors or people taking game electives showcase their work-in-progress games. Here are some of my favorite super-indie games I’d like to share with you guys! Sorry NYU for direct-linking your gifs.

Stellar Smooch by Jenny Jiao Hsia & Alec Thompson, iOS (FREE)

Stellar Smooch. Jenny is one of the first people I’ve met in graduate school altogether! She and her boyfriend make the cutest games, several of which I have playtested. Stellar Smooch is their highlight. It’s a co-op game where two people must control two spaceships, and coordinate to press a button button at the same time. If successful, both spaceships should collide and smooch! Each level has a different arrangement of planets that the players must avoid in order to face each other’s spaceships properly.

A Good Snowman is Hard to Build by Benjamin Davis, Mac & PC ($12)

A Good Snowman is Hard to Build. Okay this one wasn’t a game I playtested, but one that was showcased at a conference I attended. I met the developer, Benjamin, and talked to him while I played a demo of his game. It’s an adorable puzzle where the player must go through a garden by figuring out how to build each snowman. Each segment of a snowman has a specific size you need to acquire by rolling the snowball in the right direction. Roll too many times and you get too big of a snowball! Oh no!

Crazy Cart Chaos by Chris Wallace, Chris McGinnis and a few other people I didn’t meet, Mac & PC (FREE)

Crazy Cart Chaos. This is a four-player game where each player must pick up a character and drop it in the right location based on character design. There’s a time limit so the player who has dropped off the most characters wins. Players can also steal characters from other players, so it’s pretty competitive. One of the guys on the team that made this called me a dedicated fan because I playtested this game almost every time I saw it, and (excuse the shameless self-promotion) would always win, hehe.

Nebulous by Ben Poland and a few other guys I didn’t meet, still in development

Nebulous. I’m usually not a fan of space-stuff, but this game is BEAUTIFUL! I’ve playtested it a few times so I got to see its progress each week and chatted with the main developer each time on his process. I’ve dubbed the game “space ghost” as a little joke, because you literally are a spirit that must take control of enemy spaceships and shoot other enemy spaceships to protect your homebase, which is a beautiful diamond core.

The playtest sessions are still going on in the summer so my Thursdays evenings are occupied, and I can’t wait to test even more games next year! There are so many great games being developed, but you won’t know how good they are unless you try. Playtesting is also extremely beneficial for developers because they get to hear what the audience thinks step by step. It’s definitely a time for indie developers to break out of their shell, which I will write more about in my next post about MY game. (It’s nowhere near as good as these, but I still learned a lot from the experience.)

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6 Comments to "NYU’s Game Culture"

Raisa wrote on 15th June 2015 at 9:06 PM

Your elective sounds like so much fun! Steller Smooch looks super cute. It’s great that your school has a big gamer culture. 😀


Tara wrote on 16th June 2015 at 2:35 AM

Ahhh, Super Smash Bros. 😀 I remember when that game came out, and it was a raving hit amongst my friends! I even played with them, but fighting games were never my thing since it just turned into massive button mashing XD

Reading your gaming adventures make me miss my own high school video game/anime group I hung out with. Oh, those were the days . . .


Cat wrote on 16th June 2015 at 11:55 PM

Ah! My husband used to be a competitive Melee player! He used to travel to other TX cities for tournaments and such. Back when we first started dating, it was frustrating to know I wasn’t at his level, haha. A bit ago, he went back into the competitive scene but for Project M. We started playing a different game competitively though, so he stopped going to the Smash stuff.

Ooh, that’s awesome that NYU has a game studio. That must be great to be surrounded by an active gaming community. Playtest Thursday sounds like a lot of fun! I really love trying out indie games, and I always try as many as I can when I’m at PAX. Stellar Smooch looks so cute, and I like the idea of Nebulous and the snowman one. It’s really cool how creative people can be when it comes to games 🙂

Looking forward to hearing about your game!


Michelle wrote on 17th June 2015 at 7:07 PM

I’ve never heard of these games, but they look interesting. Was there anything at E3 this year that peeked your interest? 😀

I’m glad that your school has a good/big gamer culture and I’m glad the stigma around gaming has begun to diminish, because we need it. It’s a big business and unites people of all ages, and such; still that’s awesome!


Alice wrote on 18th June 2015 at 4:08 AM

I’ve always thought NYU was cool but I never knew it’d be THAT cool! a get-together for gamers? that sounds interesting. I always play solo because multiplayer isn’t really my cup of tea unless I trust whoever’s playing with me – and so far, I only have 1 super close gaming friend in uni who plays the same series as I do but eh, I never co-op with him either. he offers me to play, say, battlefield with him but since I know he’s better in fps than I do, I always reject his offer lmao. it’s the same when I told him to play tactical stuff with me. meanwhile, the rest of my (girl) friends prefer playing games I will never understand – like visual novels for example.

nevertheless, it’s really cool how NYU has that club. and it’s so much cooler that they don’t underestimate anyone. you know how some gamers think they can call others n00bs just because they’re less better? yea, i’d avoid such players.

ohmygod, your elective is so fun. being an interactive media student, i did get a subject where the class was told to create a game and we used Unity engine. but that’s pretty much about it; we dig the technical stuff alone, etc. yours seems specialized and a lot more fun! a lot more dedicated! man, you’re lucky. my college is only prestigious on the outside; on the inside, it’s meh. i mean, come on, we don’t even have the props for sound production class! geez. my uni sucks 😛

i really wish my uni has such a prominent gaming culture. my design lecturers, almost all of them play games and two of them are big nerds in gaming so it’s fun whenever i tell them something like, “sir! fallout 4 trailer is out! E3 is out!” and he’d be like, “OH REALLY!? IT’S HAPPENING NOW!?” lol it was funny. in my class with only 5 students, only 3 play games and 2 are the gaming nerds – me and my male friend so it’s pretty…lonely, i suppose.

the stellar smooch is an adorable game! i think all these minigames are adorable 🙂 they’re definitely something that can be popular on mobile!

sigh, i really envy you. my friend and i really want to jump into the whole gaming major but there’s no such thing here 🙁
the only way is to go abroad and study them specifically again. i really want gaming study to be my masters though but eh, who knows…

(sorry i’m such a nerd when it comes to games that i occupy your comment box like this. also, plus point because i like the text input of your comment box thus i keep on writing lol)


Chantelle wrote on 23rd June 2015 at 9:44 AM

For all of your entries, your program and your peers seem pretty awesome. I’m not much into gaming, but I love visuals and all of these look lovely. It’s so cool.

I did love Super Smash Brothers as a kid, though. For my brother and I, it was one of our most played games.


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