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The Final Update Of The 2011 US GAMBIT Lab Summer Program

All of the team's games went "gold" and the students presented their games at the GAMBIT Summer Program Post Mortem on August 5th. Thanks to everyone for a sensational and successful summer program! Read about how it all wrapped up from the view of our GAMBIT mentors, , Jeremy Kang (Republic Polytechnic), Douglas Finnigan (Temasek Polytechnic) and Mark Gossage (Singapore Polytechnic). From June 6th to August 8th, 2011, the US Lab of Singapore-MIT GAMBIT welcomes over 40 interns from various Singaporean Universities as well as interns from Berklee College of Music, Rhode Island School of Design and of course, MIT to participate in a nine week intensive program creating videogames from research begun at MIT and in various Singapore universities. We have also invited mentors from Singapore to assist and observe the interns so during this summer's program we can update you on the intern's progress through their notes and photographs.

Week 9 Observation - by Jeremy Kang (Academic Staff at Republic Polytechnic)

Shouts of jubilation rang throughout the corridors and through the walls of the labs, as the first team officially went gold. Team Death by Durian was the first to celebrate the success, putting an official end to the production of their entire summer game project. The gold process was always a nail-biting one, where the teams had to wait with bated breath (often in their rooms), while the QA team tried to pick the game apart, and ran down the team's feature list one feature at a time. QA was in overdrive for the better part of the week - with the QA room constantly bustling with activity and ringing with shouts of bug-reporting or checklist-clearing (hopefully more of the latter).

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QA in Overdrive

Over the better part of Wednesday and Thursday, intermittent cheers rang throughout the lab, as one team went gold after another. By mid-Thursday, all the summer projects had gone gold and high spirits, celebration and jubilee were the predominant emotions in the lab - a stark juxtaposition to the spirit in the lab the next day.

Week Nine by Douglas Finnigan (Temasek Polytechnic)
Week 9 was all about going home. Even the post-mortem session was a kind of goodbye, it seemed. Each presentation was a summing-up, a celebration, and a farewell.

On reflection, what strikes me about the presentations is that despite all the things that went wrong (and the presenters were quite honest about this), there was no attempt to place or deflect blame. The group took responsibility, cheerfully (and often humorously), for all the mistakes made over the past nine weeks. At the same time, there were no claims of individual glory - everyone knew that without constant group cohesion and effort, things would have fallen apart, that the center could not have held (to paraphrase one of the more literary scribbles on the Senior House walls!).

During my feedback session with students in Week 8, they constantly mentioned how the Gambit Lab was their comfort zone, that they felt able to fail without blame. Though everyone understood the professionalism required of them as individuals, they also felt a part of their group, with a strong sense of ownership of their games. While school work in Singapore was for grades, their work at Gambit, they kept on emphasizing, was for themselves - one person even said that before arriving at the lab, he thought that he'd enjoy himself, but not that it would change his outlook and view on life. (Heavy stuff - but I believed him.)

At the same time, I could see their Singaporean identities re-emerging as they began to think of home - talk of chicken rice, family, future studies and work. I don't think anyone wanted to leave, but they knew it had to happen, and so began to make the small mental adjustments, were probably happy, inside (like me), to be going home at last, though changed (like me) in subtle ways.

I hope this doesn't sound too ethereal - but I do feel that everyone was aware that something special had just happened, that the past nine weeks were more than just a study trip, or internship, or cultural exchange.

And though I'm still trying to figure out why, I don't think this could have happened anywhere else.

Game Over by Mark Gossage (Singapore Polytechnic)
Nine weeks have been and gone. My three weeks have been and gone. I'm now back in Singapore, trying to find out what's been happening back in the office and pick up the pieces.

What happened over those last few days back in GAMBIT?

Well after the going gold of all the projects, that was just about it. There was the final documentation of the code and copying of all the stuff. The post mortem's were a mix of things: some good, others rather tedious. Some were certainly censored, probably because they would arrow certain team members who caused trouble or did not pull their weight. Instead the post mortems focused more on 'system problems' rather than 'people problems', and they raised several common issues.

A particular note must of course be made to team 2's video which should be have the first couple of minutes censored away as being painful to watch (those who saw it will agree). Also of note was Team Fab's video, which showed the art development was very good and gives a little insight into how the game progressed. Finally there was the 'going gold' poster which was a great idea by the various artists. We certainly should have a picture of that on the blog.

The final few days were a mixture of 'quick, quick, get it packed' which then was replaced with the 'I don't want to go back'. Our last night (Saturday), several of the students and myself decided instead of trying to sleep, we spent the night doing things: Rock band, Settlers of Catan, or just sitting by the river and chatting. Therefore come Sunday 4am, we were all panda eyed waiting for the buses to arrive.

I want to say a special thanks to all those of the US students who decided to forgo their sleep and come and see us off at 4am. It's a little thing, but I feel it meant a lot to us. (And it was amusing to see a certain Singapore guy and American girl fast asleep with heads leaning on each other).

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Tired Interns Waiting To Go Home

Now back in Singapore, Facebook is full of comments of the form 'My heart is still in Boston'. Its been a great experience for me and a even better one for the students.
Lets do it again!

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