OPSU students won the Animation Award and finished in third place overall at the Heartland Gaming Expo held March 28-30. —Courtesy photoOPSU students won the Animation Award and finished in third place overall at the Heartland Gaming Expo held March 28-30. —Courtesy photo
**For Immediate Release** CIS Students Score Big in Gaming Expo Released by OPSU Campus Communications on 04/08/2014 Goodwell, Okla. — The Heartland Gaming Expo was held March 28-30 at the Allen Chapman Activity Center on the University of Tulsa campus. A team of four OPSU students from the Computer Information Systems (CIS) department participated in the Expo. They won the Animation Award and finished third place overall.

The goal of the Heartland Gaming Expo is to showcase and promote the creation and development of computer games in the central region of the United States. This event is designed to bring students, educators and practitioners together for interaction and competition designed to accentuate all aspects of game creation. Throughout the expo, four different competitions are held: Game Showcase, Gallery Show, Zero- Hour and Hack-A-Thon. Over 18 teams from across the state of Oklahoma competed this year representing ten different institutions.

The OPSU team included: Anthony Branstine of Liberal, Kan.; Chas Buxton of Tyrone, Okla.; Jonathan Mercer of Idabel, Okla.; and Will Parks of Tyrone, Okla. Prior to the contest, the students worked together to create a computer game called "Mariana's Vengeance" featuring an underwater submarine pilot fighting a jellyfish infestation. The team participated in the Game Showcase with an actual exhibit of their game. In addition to the game, they showed their animation at the gallery show with a presentation on "Mariana's Vengeance". Check out the game trailer on YouTube at "Mariana's Vengeance".

Branstine commented on the contest saying, "It was fun to go and compete. I think having the experience of that level of competition gives you a boost of confidence as you prepare for the future."

Individually, Chas Buxton finished second place in the Zero-Hour gaming competition. The Zero-Hour gaming competition provides an avenue for measuring your natural talent for playing games by forcing you to compete using an unknown game from an unfamiliar genre.

Joe Breeden, OPSU Computer Graphics Instructor, spoke about the contest emphasizing the knowledge and experience gained through competing. Breeden said, "The more you go to contests, the more you learn where you want to focus your energy and what you do well at."

Special thanks to Dr. John Townsend for taking the students to Tulsa. Dr. Townsend is a Professor of Agribusiness at OPSU and he has completed several OPSU game design classes.