School of Dreams

Most college students play video games in their free time. A dedicated few learn how to make them, preparing for jobs in game design after graduation. Students at Cambridge Regional College in the United Kingdom take games education one important step further, because this vocational school is home to its very own video game publisher: Rizing Games.

Rizing Games is a unique two-year educational program, where students learn game-making by developing games all the way from concept to a real-world release. The program provides instruction in every aspect of game creation: programming, sound design, animation, and market research, not to mention running the company itself.

Rizing debuted at E3 2014, where planning, financing, and managing the E3 booth was naturally part of the curriculum. Rizing student games garnered interest from companies like Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment America, and Nintendo of America, Inc. Head of Computer Games Development Michael Warburton said companies at E3 were blown away by the ages of the students producing commercial releases and running their own companies.

That interest led to some promising new relationships with the likes of game engine developer Unity Technologies. It also resulted in a £5000 award from the United Kingdom to help finance Rizing Games' E3 2015 appearance. This year, Rizing is showing off an even larger portfolio at E3: a total of 13 student-crafted games for iOS and Android devices.

For fans of platform games and puzzle-adventures, Rizing has a generous selection. Asteroath is a fantasy-themed title, on Metroid- and Castlevania-style platformers, offering players a sword-swinging protagonist and hand-drawn art. The whimsical puzzle-platformer Puttrick requires players to drop bits of its titular, putty-like hero to successfully advance through levels. Arrow is a fantasy-themed puzzle-adventure that puts players in the role of archers trapped in a dungeon with only one arrow per floor, and Catadoomed requires players to escape the catacombs beneath Edinburgh, solving puzzles in a race against time. Finally, FlikIt is a touch-based puzzle game controlled by -- you guessed it -- flicking.

Rizing has plenty to offer arcade-action fans, as well. Neon Defence is a stylish riff on Tempest, where players must hold off swarms of invading triangles by quickly spinning around the screen. Cellu takes a different tack, where players must protect a cell from hordes of invading viruses. And Thorny Troubles requires players to slash through attacking vines with their bare fingers.

As if that were not enough, the company is paying homage to video games' roots with titles like: Operation Swarm, a twin-stick shooter with a sci-fi theme; Grow Worm, a modern take on the classic cell-phone game Snake; and Nubis, a space-themed mix that brings the fun of pinball and games like Breakout.

This is just the start. Thanks to the recent acquisition of a Sony PlayStation Developers license, Rizing and its students are looking to expand into development on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in 2016. Until then, all the above games can be found in the Mobile and Social Gaming Pavilion, South Hall. This is the perfect opportunity to get an inspiring glimpse of the future of video games from an enterprising group of students who are learning by doing.

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