Programming and Play: A Core Course Week Review

This past week, every core course went through an entire week dedicated to just that course – no other classes, just exploring Denmark and surrounding countries with your core course. I spent the whole week with my fellow students in Game Development, and not only did we experience some of the best aspects of Denmark I’ve seen so far, but we also grew even closer as a class. Here’s a brief overview of what we did this week!

Monday and Tuesday: Game Jam

To start off the week, the two sections of this core course spent two days doing a game jam. A game jam is a common practice in the gaming community, where teams have a short amount of time to build, program, and create a prototype of a game!

Having just learned the basics of Unity, the game engine we’re using in this class, I was kind of scared for the game jam. As the only non-computer science major in the class, I was scared that my programming skills weren’t honed enough to sufficiently contribute to my group and my game.

Thankfully, building a game has many components, and since this wasn’t for a grade and was just for fun and playing around with the engine, we were able to relax and have fun instead of worrying about the intricacies of programming. My group came up with a 2D scroller game built around a viking theme – because we were an all-female group, we leaned into the girl power and created Viqueens. The game is relatively simple and involves a scrolling ship with a female captain shooting birds and rocks to avoid damaging the ship.

I made the health bar, and I was immensely proud.

After the two days were up and we all finished our games, we walked around the room to play each other’s games and see what everyone else came up with!

Our group was able to work together and create a successful game with a lot of small, surprisingly complicated aspects, and everyone got to contribute their own parts to the game! While I don’t think I’ll be doing a huge amount of game jams in the future, it did raise my confidence in using this engine and making games in general.

Thursday – Viborg

After a Wednesday off (when friends from the class and I went to Malmö for a day trip; shameless plug if you want to see some pictures, check out this post!), our class gathered at 7:45 in the morning to board a bus headed for Viborg, Denmark.

In Viborg, we visited VIA, a school that houses multiple institutions and workshops. First we stopped at the Animation Workshop, where they have both bachelor’s programs for aspiring animators and an incubation program where start-up businesses in animation or gaming can work and get started.

Note: Because of in-progress productions, pictures weren’t allowed in here! But just know that everything was very aesthetically pleasing and covered in animation posters. Therefore it looked like my dorm room.

Personally, I absolutely loved going to the Animation Workshop and talking to the students and employees that worked and created there. I’m a media studies major with a comp sci minor with the focus of studying and going into animation – that’s ultimately why I’m in this core course! So seeing an entire school and business cluster dedicated to animation and games made my heart swell and also text my mom asking if she would mind if I did grad school in Denmark.

After the Animation Workshop, we visited Eon Reality, a section of VIA that focuses on virtual reality technologies and games. We talked to some of the students about the school and the program, but more importantly, we tested out some VR – including walking the plank.

Once we were done at VIA, we boarded the bus to leave Viborg and head to Aarhus, where we settled down in our hotel, ate dinner, and then had some bonding time on the canal before getting some sleep for our early start the next day.

Friday – Aarhus

Friday morning, after indulging in our hotel breakfast buffet, we set off for Aarhus university to talk to the creators and employees at ScienceAtHome, an organization that creates games for research and education purposes. We played one of their games currently in Beta to help them with their research!

After ScienceAtHome, we ate lunch at Aarhus Streetfood where I FINALLY had guacamole in Denmark (not as good as Chipotle but I was deprived and would take anything) and then set off for ARoS, the art museum of Aarhus.

I’m gonna start off by saying that as someone who has gone to countless art museums, I think ARoS might be one of my favorites I’ve ever experienced. They’re known for their rainbow room on the top floor (a circular walkway with windows that create a whole rainbow), but they also had some amazing installations, classic paintings, and sculptures (including Boy which might be one of my new favorite art pieces). Not bringing my Canon camera to this art museum might now be one of my Top 5 Saddest Regrets Of All Time (Not Clickbait).

Boy” by Ron Mueck
It’s ya girls with ya boy
***if you didn’t take a pano of the rainbow room did you even go to the rainbow room***

After the art museum was dinner, and our day in Aarhus came to an end. Our hostel room didn’t have running water but it was fine because I was still coming down from a “Wow I Love Art Museums” high.

Saturday – Billund and the LEGO House

After we left Aarhus Saturday morning, we stopped at Billund on the way back to do what I think most of us were most excited about: the LEGO House.

The LEGO House consists of open playgrounds for the public, and then 5 differently-colored rooms on the inside full of activities that stimulate different parts of the mind. And of course, a lot of amazing LEGO sculptures.

Our class viewed the LEGO House through the idea of play, and how play is defined differently from games. But we also just got to be kids again and build with a bunch of LEGOs.

The biggest LEGO model in the world, a tree that climbs the center of the house and is made of over 6 million blocks.
a city built in the Green room, with tiny details that I couldn’t even begin to describe – like a bird taking a little LEGO man’s Chinese takeout???
a LEGO of me, your humble blogger,

A giant frame of the LEGO logo made of little LEGO pieces

Needless to say, I loved the LEGO house. I lowkey didn’t want to leave. I texted my mom to tell her that when she visits she should take a 3-hour commute just to go to it. Our lunch required us to put certain blocks together depending on what parts of the meal we wanted and then a machine scanned it and it was given to us by a robot. I LOVE THE LEGO HOUSE.

And then we drove back to Copenhagen! Our study tour and core course week came to an end, and I returned happy and fulfilled and very very tired. And honestly, isn’t that how you know it was a good trip?

Until next week, when normal classes resume and I go to Stockholm! (ooohh??? suspense????? readers are on the edge of their seat as we speak)

I’m going to go nap.

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