Game playing and developing at UNO


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Will Patterson

Games serve as a centerpiece of social opportunity. Whether breaking the ice with new roommates, reconnecting with family or just a game night with friends, games give a chance for participants to learn more about each other and themselves.

Students at the University of Nebraska at Omaha are given a variety of chances to go beyond just playing a game. Classes and on-campus opportunities allow students to see in depth development and creation of games.

UNO professor Russell Nordman offers courses that touch on how to design games.

Nordman’s love of board games is apparent from the moment students set foot in his office. Stacked in a pile underneath a table in the room is a collection of used board games.

“At the time we started doing all of this, ‘game geeks’ were sort of in the closet,” Nordman said on the changes he’s observed in how games are being viewed over the past decade.

His experience in game development touched base on the rise and success of video games. Nordman said his interest in video games was first sparked with the arrival of text based games on early computers. Eventually this field spiraled into the vast video game industry that exists today.
Video games, a popular hobby for many college students, continue to be a part of a growing industry and culture.

A growing number of students are entering higher education with the intention of finding a career in game development. These majors typically fall under computer programming and other technical oriented specializations.

Currently, UNO offers a game programming concentration to students looking to stake their claim in an increasingly competitive field.

In the era of electronic gadgets and virtual distractions the fun and simplicity of board games may be lost on the busy student. Spielbound, a short trip from UNO’s campus, is the establishment that aims to change that.

Spielbound is a café and non-profit organization under the same roof. Their efforts have helped to spur an environment that invites individuals to take a break from their lives to spend an evening having fun.

“We’re trying to bring the joy and benefits of playing to the Omaha people,” said Kaleb Michaud, a professor at University of Nebraska Medical Center and founder of Spellbound.

Using the popular Kickstarter website Michaud raised the funds to open Spielbound under the mission statement: “We believe games inspire, motivate and help us grow. In this positive space, we seek to provide all people the challenge, art and fun unique to the world of board games.”

The idea behind the establishment originated with Michaud’s love of board games and a game night he was hosting at his own house.

Relying on the contribution of others, Spielbound’s non-profit side is always in need of volunteers who love board games and giving back to the community.

Getting lost in the work and demands of being a full-time student can make having downtime difficult. Games continue to give the stressed student the perfect outlet from a hard time.


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