When Tom Eggers became president of the McHenry County College Game Club, he set a new goal for club members to develop a game -- instead of playing games -- at their weekly meetings.
One semester later, a team of 12 student game designers and graphic artists created "Animal Hackers: A game of sabotage and subterfuge," a card game for all ages featuring a theme of bluffing. The card game is currently for sale in the college bookstore, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake.
"I wanted all of us to come together and produce something simple and fun that all ages could play, from teens and up," said Eggers, who lives in Woodstock. "This project builds on their skills as game designers, graphic designers and computer artists, and they could add it to their portfolios."
After brainstorming the type of game and deciding on the objective, a team of three students designed the animal characters and another student digitized them. Then, a group of seven game testers worked out any glitches and made suggestions.
The game was printed this fall by a production company from Hong Kong, which Eggers met at a gaming convention in Indianapolis.
"Animal Hackers" is available for purchase in the MCC Bookstore for $15 each. The deck includes 10 cards, including two of each of these animals: a bearded dragon, a lioness, dolphin balancing a laptop on its nose, a panda and a rooster and 20 point cards. The card sizes measure 3½-by-2½ inches, slightly smaller than standard playing cards, which was a way to save on production cost, Eggers said.
"Our goal is to sell 250 card games," said Eggers, who is working toward his Associate in Applied Science degree in digital media, with a focus in game design.
After graduating from MCC, he plans to transfer to DePaul University to pursue a bachelor's degree.
Proceeds from the card game will go toward covering the production and future club activities, said Game Club adviser David Collins, adjunct digital media instructor. Collins joined the club when he was a student in 2008 and served as club president in 2010. He earned his AAS degree from MCC and his bachelor's degree in production and special effects from DePaul University.
"I'm really excited," Collins said. "I've wanted the Game Design Club to do more design and production and we've finally made it a reality. This semester, club members are working on a board game sequel to Animal Hackers."
About the game
Collins said that the name Animal Hackers is a play on words of Animal Crackers -- and hacking and cracking are both computer terms. The object of the "Animal Hackers" game is to get the most points. Players receive points every turn and use two secret animal cards to manipulate other players' points and cards.
Players can challenge someone who they think is bluffing about the card they are playing. The player is penalized if he or she gets caught bluffing, and another player gets rewarded with a card if they call someone's bluff, thus earning more points. The game ends when the last card is drawn.
About the club
Game Club secretary McKenna Schaller of Lake in the Hills said she enjoyed working on the project and designed the panda card.
"What initially drew me to Game Club was the fact that I could hang out with people, but then I heard of the opportunity to create a card game and I was originally drawn to that because it would become a portfolio piece to showcase what I've accomplished while at MCC," Schaller said.
Schaller already earned her Associate degree in general education and a certificate in graphic design, and is currently pursuing two additional Associate in Applied Science degrees in web design and development and in graphic design.
Mary Kate Thompson, lead concept artist for Animal Hackers, agreed. She said working on the card game was a great way for her to showcase her art and her love of wildlife.
"The faculty of MCC's Computer and Digital Media Department stress excellence, creativity, and putting one's ideas into action," said Bill Skrzypczak, programming instructor and Department Chair of Computers and Digital Media.
"The card game that was created by Game Club members is an excellent example of this philosophy in action. Students came up with the concept, organized the resources, found the funding, and produced the product on their own, with encouragement from the faculty. The result is a fantastic product that the public can enjoy."
The MCC Game Club was established in 2004 as a way for students pursuing degrees and certificates in the Digital Media Department to develop games and to socialize. Currently, 20-25 members meet Wednesday nights in the Digital Media lab.