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'Pixels & Games' brings art to life

Washington County Technical High School tech show features games, animation and simulations

May 23, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County Technical High School senior Michael Magaha, standing ,explains the Insert Token Here game to Tim Hockensmith Wednesday afternoon during the 'Pixels & Games' tech show at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. Hockensmith's son, Nick Hockensmith, is also a senior at the school and was involved in the project.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Art was in digital form Wednesday at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

Seniors from Washington County Technical High School Computer Game Development and Animation Program put on a tech show called “Pixels & Games” that featured games, animation and simulations.

“We were the first high school class to actually be doing a video games art exhibit at a small fine arts museum,” said Hagerstown resident Russell Lockwood, an 18-year old student in the program. “Even though this museum may be small, it is world renowned for the collection that it has.”

Lockwood was the director of marketing for the exhibition.

“We have a lot of experiences that no other colleges really provide,” he said. “This has been valuable experience.”

The exhibition was held in the Kaylor Atrium and the Bowman Gallery of the museum. CGDA members shared projects from their portfolios, including concept planning, storyboards, graphics, programming and music from games, and computer art they created.

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Christian Las Dulce, 18, of Smithsburg was the chairman of the exhibition setup. He said his role was to organize everything, including the layout and assigning where things would be.

“It’s been really fun, and I love to organize and manage things,” he said. “We’re finally showing the general public that games aren’t just a waste of time.”

Las Dulce, who has been involved in every part of the program, said computer games are a form of art.

“Players get engaged and feel the emotions of the characters,” he said. “I’ve been involved in scripting, art animation, technology and audio for making a game.”
Visitors were able to go in and check out the exhibition between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Mount Airy resident Sam Morrison, 12, said he is interested in designing video games and attended the event to get a feel for what he would be doing.

“I’ve seen how complicated it can be, and how good it can turn out,” he said. “You have to program every little movement. It’s harder than I thought it would be, but I still want to do it.”

Students at the exhibition also pitched new computer game concepts that they presented to Microsoft executives.

CGDA is a program for 11th- and 12-graders at Washington County Technical High School, and the exhibition was the capstone for the seniors.

Martin Nikirk, who has been the program developer and teacher for 10 years, said that this class is called the “Legendary Seniors” for doing so many things, including designing games for a Smithsonian American Art Museum Exhibit, working digitally with forms of art in the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and winning multiple awards.

“It worked out well this year that the director of the museum ... offered this location for us to host our tech show,” he said. “We have an amazing senior team that knows how to organize and plan events.”

Hagerstown resident Chris Robinson, 23, who is in the Digital and Simulation Entertainment Program at Hagerstown Community College, said he interned at Tech High school for Nikirk. He said he attended to look at some of the games that had been designed.

“You actually get to see art come alive,” he said. “The stuff they’re doing is more advanced than what we’re doing at HCC.”

CGDA has won the Maryland State Department of Education “Star of Excellence Award” and has been published in multiple journals for technology education.

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