CCBC Tech Expo Looks to the Future

Ian Kafes

The CCBC Tech Expo took place on Saturday, Oct. 22 with panels, presentations, and demonstrations throughout The Math & Science Building on the Catonsville campus.

The first presentation was "The Game Creation and Interactive Storytelling Panel." The panel invited speakers Laura Morlock, Dr Nyland from Playful Therapy Connections and Stevenson, respectively. Much of the discussion surrounded the Global Game Jam and the importance of meaningful narrative in gaming. The Global Game Jam was also represented, virtually, by Charly Harbord.

The Global Game Jam is an international event in which small teams have 48 hours to make a game from scratch based around a single theme. Stevenson student panelist, Julian S. Cha, gave the example of their 2021 game, “An Awakening” which was inspired by the narrative theme of lost and found.

Cha went on to say, “you don’t need a $1 million budget for a masterpiece… story and mood are often overlooked in this space.”

Cyber security student, Kalla Lavender, found Cha’s portion of the segment the most intriguing saying, “[his] passion and philosophy was impressive to me.”

When asked about the event, Lavender said, “I think this event is a great way to open students' eyes to the possibilities in tech. It was a great way to network in this space and CCBC should do more events like this.”

Another speaker from the same panel, Laura Morlock, spoke on the therapeutic nature of social games and how she implements gaming into her therapy sessions. She went into detail about the different roles patients will play in different situations. For example, a patient may play and present as different genders or use different identities based on the game or social circumstance.

The second panel of the afternoon, “Games, Social & Immersive Technologies: The Power to Share & Build," featured speakers, Jessica Murrey of Wicked Saints Studio and a representative from Seen. The panel consisted of the two speakers taking turns to discuss their projects.

Jessica Murrey discussed their upcoming mobile game “World Reborn.” The game is described as the first ever adventure activism game and borrows technology from Niantic, the developer of popular mobile game, “Pokemon GO.” The game is currently in beta testing and can be joined on their website.

The Seen representative discussed their organization and the rise of mobile journalism. Their presentation stressed how most everyone already has all the tools necessary to get started such as a smart phone and access to the internet.

One presentation which gathered quite a crowd was the PrismsVR math teaching tool demonstration. The crowd watched as a 7th grade student, who admitted to be failing his middle school math class, navigated a virtual three dimensional, fully interactive environment to work out high school level linear models.

The entire program takes place in a Meta Quest 2 VR Headset. The student had to move around the space to track and document different environmental factors over the course of several years like iceberg melting rates or deforestation rates. After gathering the data, participants were asked to make inferences based on that data.  It took some help and a couple tries, but the student who was failing middle school math was able to answer the questions correctly without blindly guessing.

When asked what advantages VR education could have over traditional schooling, PrismsVR representative, Nathan Labara, said, “it being first-person and interactive helps ideas ‘stick’ in learners' minds. There is a value to firsthand experiences.”

One of the most popular rooms was the games showcase which held several local independently developed games. There was great diversity in the games shown from block-based puzzle games to purposefully difficult boat combat games to hand drawn role playing games about your quest to have the beefiest flex to become the mayor of a town called Swoleville. At no point was there an empty chair at the demo station for “Sand Knight,” a pixel-based isometric “kiter shooter.” All games shown can be followed up on by contacting the Baltimore Indie Game Developers Group

Event organizer, Dr. Ann MacLellan, said, “I am happy with how the event turned out and we are already looking forward to next year where we will likely be a part of STEMFEST.”

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