A group of students spent their summer creating a resource to help overwhelmed peers prioritize their mental wellness. During the MassDigi Summer Studio at Clark, 13 Becker School of Design & Technologystudents spent nine weeks building an original mobile game to aid in relaxation.
The Summer Studio is an internship program in partnership with MassDigi, also known as the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute, a Worcester-based center for entrepreneurship and economic development in the local gaming ecosystem. The studio challenges student teams to conceptualize, design, and prepare a game for launch — with the support of industry mentors.
The group produced “Merge Monastery,” which invites players to design a 3D Zen garden as calming music plays in the background.
“This experience has solidified that this is what I want to do as a job. Coming into the office and working every day on my passion was a dream,” says RJ Anthony ’22, MFA ’24, a 3D artist for the project.
“Merge Monastery” uses what’s known as merging mechanics, a subgenre of puzzle games popularized by mobile apps such as “Candy Crush.” In merge games, players slide the same or similar items together to create bigger or better items. In the “Merge Monastery” garden, players tap and slide their fingers across their screen to merge seeds. Merging these seeds creates beautiful flowers, sculptures, and other decorations that players use to embellish their gardens.
“Working with a full team for the first time gave me great insight into how a studio is run,” said Porter Orvetti ’26, one of three game programmers. “This experience made me confident in my abilities.”
MassDigi interns will continue to develop “Merge Monastery” throughout the fall semester.
The Summer Studio is similar to the MassDigi Summer Innovation Program (SIP), an 11-week internship that receives hundreds of applications each year from students across the globe. Like the Clark program, SIP teams build a game prototype from the ground up. Clark students have been selected for that internship in previous years.