Thursday, 28 November 2013

Brighton and Stanford Universities collaborate to create new mobile game

by Jian Farhoumand.

Students from the University of Brighton have collaborated with a professor at Stanford University, California, and his autistic daughter to create a new mobile game to be released next week.

Marcus Brooks, 23, originally from Hertfordshire, is in his third year of a BSc Computer Science (Games) degree at the University of Brighton and has founded Greedy Gull Studios with classmates Matt Manser, 21, Matej Navara, 21, and Joseph Loe, 20. Their company designs games and apps for mobile phones and tablets. The music for their first official game has been composed by American student, Chika Shimojima, 21, with the support of her father, Professor Atsushi Shimojima, 51, who is a visiting scholar at Stanford.

Greedy Gulls: Matt Manser(left), Marcus Brooks, Joseph Loe and Matej Navara

Mr Brooks said: “I’ve programmed for years and always loved it. Brighton is one of the only places that does this specific course so it’s been a great learning experience and really fun. We designed the game ourselves but still needed music for it. Our supervisor, Andrew Blake, met Professor Shimojima and helped set up the collaboration. Chika has composed some great music for the game which really adds to the fun and makes it much more impacting.”

Course leader Andrew Blake, 45, said: “I met Atsushi Shimojima at a Visual Languages conference in San Jose in September. Atsushi and his daughter, who is regarded as a savant, have a particular interest in designing music for computer games. I told Atsushi I was the course leader for the BSc Computer Science (Games) at Brighton and might be able to help. Hence the relationship between Greedy Gull and Chika-Pro, the name under which Atsushi and his daughter create music.”

Greedy Gull Studios’ first game is succinctly entitled Super Awesome Line Game and is best-described as a cross between Snake and Tron. The main goal of the game is to navigate an ever-growing line around sharp corners at ever-increasing speed, without crashing.

Mr Blake said of the game: “It’s great! I think it is a quirky, frivolous bit of fun that quickly engrosses the player; exactly what such casual games should be.”
Miss Shimojima is a musical prodigy who, despite having autism spectrum disorder, is the driving force behind Chika-ProHer website describes her as “a surprisingly innocent mind who would rather create music than speak words.” She watched a silent video of the game first, before composing music for it.

Chika Shimojima composing music in her studio

Born in the US and raised in Japan, Miss Shimojima started composing at the age of 11 and has now made hundreds of pieces of music, many of which are used in films and games. She is taught piano by Myrna Emata at Legato Music School, San Jose, and is mentored by James Gardiner, a composer with two Grammy nominations and 42 gold and platinum awards.

Professor Shimojima said: “Chika has autism but has tremendous musical talent so we created this production group to connect her music to society. This is the first time Chika-Pro has collaborated with students from Brighton University. I was interested in the fact that a group of college students were building their own company to supply jobs to themselves. I thought it’s a good match for Chika-Pro. We are hoping to keep up the collaboration for further projects.”

Mr Blake is pleased with the project his students have created and is impressed by their entrepreneurial spirit. He said: “I think Greedy Gull is doing a fantastic job. They are the first group of students within the faculty, as far as I am aware, who have set up their own business under the faculty placement scheme and are proving to be a credit to the university. I hope that they set a benchmark from which students in the future will be able to follow their own entrepreneurial aspirations.”

Super Awesome Line Game is released on Saturday 7th December and will be available to download for free on Android and iOS.

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