TechShop Game Design Challenge (drafted by Mike Depew)

Last week we held our Orientation and Lunch Party for the iFest|TechShop Game Design Challenge. Thanks to everyone for coming out and sharing your ideas! Please see the information below for updates about the Challenge and the Request for Proposal (RFP).

About the iFest|TechShop Game Design Challenge

The TechShop of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences (iSchool) invite you to participate in the iFest|TechShop Game Design Challenge. The challenge: work in teams of three to design and develop an interactive game. As part of the challenge, student teams are required to submit a proposal detailing their game idea and concept. Three student teams will be selected, based on their proposals, to develop working prototypes of their games using the tools and services at TechShop. Those three teams will present their game prototypes at iFest 2015 (Feb. 6).

The team judged to have designed and developed the best game concept and prototype will win a prize of $500 per person.

Proposal Requirements

  • Propose a new game concept or significantly improve/modify an existing game
  • Proposed game must have a narrative or back-story
  • Proposed game must have robotics/physical computing components powered by either Arduino or Hummingbird kits
  • Final prototype must be fabricated and work within the described parameters of the game

Proposals must be submitted by: October 10, 2014

Follow this link for the full RFP.

Advising & Support Workshops

iSchool staff and faculty will be available to answer questions and provide advising to teams during the dates/times listed below. Drop by any of these workshops to brainstorm game ideas and concepts, learn how to use Arduino and Hummingbird kits, and get feedback on your proposals. For additional support from staff and faculty, see the attached RFP.

Proposal Advising & Introduction to Arduino Kits
Friday, September 19: 2:30PM – 4:00PM

Proposal Advising & Introduction to Hummingbird Kits
Friday, September 26: 2:30PM – 4:00PM

Proposal Advising

Friday, October 3: 2:30PM – 4:00PM

All advising and support workshops will be held on the 3rd floor.

Registration Form

If you are interested in participating, please complete the registration form. Please indicate whether or not you have already formed a team to participate in the Game Design Challenge. If you do not have a team, complete the form and we will help you find other students interested in forming a team. If you already have formed a team, all members of your team must complete a separate registration form.

Register for the iFest|TechShop Game Design Challenge

Experiments with physical computing and conductivity

My kids and I did some hands on experiments with physical computing and electricity. Initially I only intended to do these experiments with Daniella, but Sophia seems to be pretty interested as well. Using an Arduino board, a breadboard, a 10OM resistor and a few wires we made a simple capacitive sensor. Capacitive sensors take human body capacitance as input and (depending on sensitivity) detect anything that is conductive.  I wrote a simple Arduino sketch that would randomly draw colored circles on the screen when our sensor detected conductivity.  Basically we took a bunch of household items – metal spoons, plastic spoons, cups, wooden plates, etc… and connected them to the circuit using a small crocodile clamp.  When Daniella would touch a conductive object (like a metal spoon which conducts electricity), the program would begin to draw circles on the screen.  One of the items we used was a piece of paper.  While dry it would not conduct electricity; however when we dipped it in water and connected it to the circuit, the capacitive sensor detected touch once again.  This experiment had a dual purpose – she learned how different materials conduct (or don’t conduct) and got a vague introduction physical computing.

Experiments with physical computing and conductivity






You can find detailed instructions on how to create capacitive sensors on Insructables website (Turn a pencil drawing into a capacitive sensor for Arduino) and on Arduino Playground.