By Beth Korth
When you think about video game powerhouses, your mind probably doesn’t gravitate to Minnesota. We’re not well known for the production of big name games or home to large video game publishers. That is going to change, at least if the students at Glitch Gaming have their way.
Glitch is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting digital gaming culture and game design as a creative practice, right here in the heart of the Twin Cities. Tucked inside the University of Minnesota, the mission is to educate, guide, and connect the future developers, artists, and publishers of Minnesota’s budding video game industry.
Student Director Nicolaas VanMeerten and former student Evva Kraikul are personally passionate about video game development and committed to fostering a broader community for gamers to come together and share the games that they love in a safe and accepting atmosphere.
The duo started early 2010 as a campus student group to fill the void in the gaming community, not sure what to expect. Less than a year later, the group had hosted multiple events with attendance in the hundreds, and added over 2,000 different students to the mailing list. Clearly, they were not alone in their quest.
From 2010-2012 they sponsored successful Star Craft 2 and League of Legends eSports teams who finished in the top 16 schools internationally each year. With a current base membership of ~200 students, staff, and members of the public not affiliated with the University — Glitch has cemented its presence.
For example, their educational series, Glitch.Ed is geared towards workshops, lectures, and discussions addressing industry topics to help broaden community perspectives. Glitch holds a monthly Town Hall gathering to share updates on projects, and discuss issues currently concerning the community. Members also have the opportunity to practice public speaking by giving short presentations on topics of their choice.
Glitch facilitates less formal events where guest speakers from the industry share their stories and insights with the community in their CONNECT series. Sprinkled throughout the year, Glitch does Viewing Parties for live events such as E3, Spike TV’s Video Game Awards, eSports competitive gaming coverage, and more.
Welcome Geek is their annual video game themed carnival held in September of each year during the University of Minnesota’s “Welcome Week” celebration. Glitch will also be hosting its first annual GameCraft January 23-25, 2015 during the annual Global Game Jam. This event will give local designers, developers, artists, and anyone interested in creating a game the opportunity to form teams and create a game within 48 hours.
Their lounge is fully stocked with mice, headsets, ethernet cables and controllers available for free rental as well as the latest consoles, development tools, and an impressive video game library. Membership is open to anyone willing to pay the modest membership fee — $20 per semester for the public, and $10 for students at the University of Minnesota.
Although Minnesota is not known for our gaming prowess today, there’s good chance of that changing in the future thanks to Glitch.