Tembusu Has Got Game

tembusu bemused
tembusu bemused

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Come August, freshmen at Tembusu College will be surprised to find their campus replicated in the virtual world. The college will be featured as the setting for a retro-style point-and-click adventure game made by renowned design team, Stick and Balloon.

The team, comprised of Yanyun Chen and Sara Chong, are independent illustrators and animators. They were invited to Tembusu as consultants as part of a project to set up the student-formed photography and video group tStudios at Tembusu College.

Stick and Balloon, who were responsible for Jimmyfish (2011), a game that was recently awarded   “Jury Selection Work” at 15th Japan Media Arts Festival, decided to pitch to the school an idea of an retro-style point and click adventure game, featuring Tembusu staff and faculty.

“Think of it as an introduction for fresh students to get to know their professors, as well as our interpretation of the wacky and humorous environment that is Tembusu,” said Chen.

The pair pulled together a team of six experienced game makers – from programmers and animators to a music designer, Jachin Pousson, to device the game.

Hee En Hua, a fourth-year economics student and one of the pioneering batch of Tembusu residents said, “As a member of the Tembusu family, I am glad that a game is being made about the Tembusu experience. It shows how creativity is more than just a marketing buzzword for the college.”

Jenson Chen, a third-year literature student was more sceptical. “I think it’s cool but I wonder if it’s just going to be a fancy gimmick to boast about, or something people will actually like to play,” he said.

When asked what players can expect from the game, Chen was careful not to give too much away.

“It started out as an experiment to integrate reality with a fictional game setting. The game will feature the faculty as in-game characters with quirks related to their research interests,” she said.

It shows how creativity is more than just a marketing buzzword for the college.

For instance, Professor John van Whye who is the director of The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, Bye-Fellow Christ’s College, Cambridge will appear in the game as a “Darwin Detective”.

While the game features faculty, staff and even Tembusu’s ubiquitous millipede population, it lacks the presence of students. Although Tembusu students were allowed to suggest names for the game’s protagonist, none of them were involved in the design or planning phases of the project even.

Chen explained that these students were busy with their own work, thus “Sara and I spent at least 60 hours a week working on the game”.


Update (03/10/12): The game is now released. To play, go to: http://tembusu.nus.edu.sg/bemused/