On Jan. 25, UC Santa Barbara undergraduate students from the ECE 194M Intro to Video Game Development class had the chance to show off their original video game designs to the public. The students’ projects ranged from adventure and action games, to puzzle games, to games aimed particularly at younger children. 

The showcase was hosted by the Gaucho Game Lab, UCSB’s video game development program. The Gaucho Game Lab enables undergraduate students in the computer science and related majors to take a series of elective classes in which they learn about video game design and work toward creating their own games, eventually releasing them to the public.

The Gaucho Game Lab is directed by Dr. Pradeep Sen, a professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. Sen discussed the idea behind the Gaucho Game Lab and how it aims to instruct students in all aspects of video game design. 

“The whole idea is to teach students how to design a game and how to develop and integrate it and put it all together,” he said. “These are usually juniors and seniors who have quite a bit of programming experience already, but the idea is to teach them how to take that knowledge and sort of apply it to an actual product like a game, something fun.” 

One of the student-creators also spoke to this and what the experience was like. Daniel Lohn, a recent UCSB graduate, but who was a fourth-year computer science student when he took the game design class, said that he very much enjoyed Sen’s class. For the first few weeks, you do homework assignments where you build small game prototypes and propose ideas for your final game,” Lohn explained. “You then have six weeks to turn your idea into a complete game.” He added that “one lesson [he] learned early on is that it’s very time consuming to make a game,” but that “it’s rewarding to see your ideas come to life.” 

Still from Lohn’s game, Garbage Champion. (Image courtesy of Daniel Lohn)

Lohn’s creation is called “Garbage Champion”, a game in which the player uses a crane to “blow up lots of boxes.” He said that his classmates made all kinds of different games, though, including business games, maze/escape games, shooter games, strategy games, puzzle games and more.

Most of the games, like Lohn’s, were individual and only took six weeks to complete, but other, more complex games were done in groups of four or five students over the span of two quarters. 

This was the second annual showcase that the Gaucho Game Lab has done, and they hope to continue doing it in future years. “We hope to continue [the showcase] and also grow it as people start playing our games and get to know us,” Sen said. “I hope we can create like a following, you know, a community.”

Lohn said that he enjoyed seeing visitors have fun with his game at the showcase. “[It] made me feel that the time and effort spent on my game was justified.”

Sen said that hopefully, the students’ games will be posted online within the next few months for the public to play. 


Be sure to check out the Gaucho Game Lab on social media:


Twitter: @GauchoGameLab

Facebook: @GauchoGameLab

Instagram: @gauchogamelab