When Gen Con opens tomorrow, (Thurs) visitors will have the chance to visit an alternate reality created by students at IUPUI, and win prizes at the same time.  The multi-player game “Return of Aetheria” was designed by students and an instructor with the Media Arts and Sciences Program at IU‘s School of Informatics and Computing. “Gen Con contacted us about a year ago and wanted us to become the flagship school of their educational initiaive,” said IUPUI‘s Matthew Powers, who lectures at the school and lead the development of the game.  “We have together several classes to have students design, create, program and finish a real-world game.”
“Return of Aetheria” will be a three-day interactive game, open to anyone attending, using video mapping and projectors to create a large crystalline display.  “Players pay $2, and they will help return magic – or Aetheria – to the real world.  The more they play, the more the crystals will crack and return magic to the real world,” said Powers, adding that players will be guided through the game via an app they can download.  Winners will split $4,000 in prizes, donated by sponsors recruited by the school.  Since Gen Con partnered with IUPUI last year, the Media Arts and Science program has added two classes, one on pre-production and another on the production of games.  Powers says “Aetheria”, in addition to being fun to play, will help students get a job in the industry.  “We need to blur the line, so that when students go out in the real world, they are prepared for the type of chaos and type of pressure that comes with making a game,” said Powers.  “In the industry, if you can make just one game, game makers will look at your portfolio.”
Powers plans to have students add on to the game each year, creating new versions for display at other conventions.