The shows must go on.
University of Wisconsin-Stout’s spring Senior Show, presented by the School of Art and Design, and the Stout Game Expo 2020 (SGX 20) will premiere virtually at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 15, and remain available for at least a month.
The shows ended up moving online because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effort to avoid large gatherings.
For fans of the two shows, an online presence means more time to enjoy the art, films and games created by UW-Stout students. Go to uwstout.edu/seniorshow to connect to the spring Senior Show and SGX 20.
Senior Show features more than 150 student projects
The Senior Show will feature more than 150 projects from students majoring in entertainment design, industrial design, interior design, graphic design, game design and studio art, said Dave Beck, director of the School of Art and Design.
“One of the silver linings is that the content will be online for more than a month, for people to view and take their time enjoying,” Beck said. “They will be able to look at the projects, watch the student films and play the games students have created, at their own pace.”
The vibrancy of students, faculty, staff and their families gathering for the Senior Show and SGX will be missing, but online visitors will have a better opportunity to learn more about student artists and their work as they view the online exhibits, Beck said.
It was important to the university to continue the Senior Show and SGX 20, Beck said.
“Students have been working not only this last semester but the last four years of their education toward this moment,” Beck said. “The easy route would have been not to have a Senior Show. We felt at the School of Art and Design that is not the UW-Stout way. We find creative solutions when posed with problems. We find new and innovative ways to do things.”
Having virtual events is a way to create new audiences around the world who might not have been able to travel to Menomonie the day of the shows, Beck said, noting this gives students’ projects even greater exposure.
Andrew Williams, associate professor and program director for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in game design and development-art major and program director for the BFA in entertainment design, said switching to an all-virtual SGX 20 has shown students how everything they have learned still works despite the distance between them.
“We wanted our students to gain the recognition they deserve for their hard work, adaptiveness and exceptional perseverance,” Williams said. “That they produced completed game projects, despite having to abruptly shift their locations and the way they work with their teams, speaks volumes to their professionalism and skill. Because games are supposed to be experienced, we didn't want to lose that opportunity. We had the tools for doing an all-online virtual showcase, so we took advantage of the situation by increasing the potential audience for the games made at UW-Stout.”
SGX 20 offers 48 games to play
Students this semester explored a wide range of ideas for games, Williams said. One game, Leon Nights, uses the rhythm of the music to help the player fend off waves of enemies in a neon-lit, cyber-themed city. There will be 48 games from 184 students available to play and/or download.
In the past, the Senior Show and SGX have been held before commencement, which was May 9. This year the virtual shows are being held after commencement to allow students more time to prepare materials.
Megan Southwick, a graduating game design senior from Mukwonago, was part of a team called Third Eye that developed Pestilence, an action/thriller game in which an ancient deity of disease tries to reclaim a disease that has escaped and is running rampant in the subway of a near-future city.
“One of the biggest advantages I see to having SGX online this spring is people won't have to wait in line to play the games,” Southwick said. “Attendees will be able to play more games than they might have at an in-person SGX because they can easily access them online. An online SGX will reach a greater number of people than usual. An in-person SGX, for many people, requires travel, lodging and dedicating time to accommodate these things, but a virtual SGX cuts out many of the logistical concerns and makes it easier to attend.”
Southwick said she hopes those attending SGX recognize the incredible amount of work the students put into their projects.
“The seniors especially have dedicated so much time into developing their games, and even though the pandemic threw a curveball at us, we persevered to continue developing,” Southwick said. “Outside of game design, I hope every senior showcasing can present a project they are proud of, and I hope every senior is tremendously proud of themselves for completing their capstone, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. We may not be able to celebrate our successes in person this semester, but we are still gathering to celebrate and share this event together.”
Beck and Williams agreed that future Senior Show and SGX events may have a virtual component to allow for greater exposure to student work.
During the premiere May 15 participants are encouraged to check in and participate in an ongoing conversation online, found on a Facebook event linked from uwstout.edu/seniorshow.
Senior Show logo
A photo from an animation project by Mackenzie Burke that will be part of the Senior Show.