Ever wanted to make a video game? Think you have the chops? Join the Games Institute for a game design workshop and tournament at the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda!
On Friday, April 26, Kitchener City Hall Rotunda will host the first annual Games Institute game design workshop and tournament, “Make a Game or DIY Trying.” With no programming experience necessary, attendees will be treated to a full day specifically devoted to game design and entering the video game industry. The morning will feature game design workshops and panels led by video game industry professionals, and the afternoon will be spent in groups working on the perfect game design proposal, to be judged by the panelists at the end of the day. A $5 admission fee will also cover a catered lunch, and the top three proposals will win a prize. This event is meant to raise awareness of the Games Institute and for the burgeoning video game industry in Kitchener-Waterloo.
Director, The Games Institute
Neil is a long-time faculty member in the English department at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and the director of the Games Institute. As a games enthusiast and scholar, Neil has designed, developed, and produced board games of the complex simulation kind. “My games studies work includes the relationship of boardgames to videogames, the construction of narrative and dialogue in videogames, and the adaption of Tolkien’s works from book and film into games” explains Neil.
His years at the University of Waterloo have been spent helping to build the Rhetoric and Professional Writing program at the undergraduate level and the Rhetoric and Communication Design program at the graduate level while establishing a profile in the practice of professional communication and documentation. To those ends, Neil has published numerous how-to computer books and many feature articles, columns, and reviews in computer magazines such as PC Magazine, Smart Computing, PC Computing, PC Gamer, etc. In addition, he has consulted with a variety of technology companies on topics such as digital media creation, methods of effective interactive communication, proposal writing, copyright and patent issues, and public relations.
CEO & Creative Director at Industry Corporation
Few people know what they want to do for a living at a young age. Andrew was the exception; he’s known since high school that he wanted to work in the games industry. “I received my BA in Games Art & Design from the Norwich University of the Arts in 2008, and co-founded Industry the same year,” says Andrew. “In the past 12 months alone we've developed over 25 game projects.”
While Andrew is involved in the development of many games, his favourite to work on are those in the Partyboat franchise. “The subject matter is so hilarious that we can't get through a single meeting without breaking into fits of laughter,” describes Andrew. “The first in the series was our first game - and a critical success - so it will always be close to heart.” Andrew is currently working on a mobile game for the Stratford Festival. The working name of this game is “Staging Shakespeare. The game encourages players to direct, block, and design scenes from Romeo and Juliet.
Many games have influenced Andrew over the years, including: Tropico, Roller Coaster Tycoon, SimTower, No One Lives Forever, Halo, Red Dead Redemption, and the Grand Theft Auto series, to name a few.
Communications Director at Industry Corporation
Natalie describes herself as a former closet gamer. That is, until she began working for Industry Corp. Working for a gaming company has “brought me out of the closet to embrace my inner nerd!” reveals Natalie.
In her role as communications director, Natalie gets to be part of each and every game the company is working on. She loves creating the PR material and being a part of many game projects. At the moment, she is assisting with “a mobile game for the Stratford Festival that lets users direct, block, and design scenes from Romeo and Juliet.”
Like many others, Natalie has trouble determining which game is her all-time favourite. However, she has narrowed it down to one series: Mass Effect. “It fulfills all of the best parts of video games: interactive storytelling, guns, action, dialogue, decision-making, good vs. evil, incredible characters, AND you can play as a female Shepard!” exclaims Natalie.
Director of Studio Operations, Kitchener at Electronic Arts
If you could choose one game as your all-time favourite, what would it be? For Ian, it would be Final Fantasy XII. “I love how, after so long, the series keeps so many elements of the original and the "gambits" in the combat system appeal to the same part of my brain that likes computer programming” says Ian. “And the story, and the side quests, and the art, and the music, and…”
One of Ian’s many responsibilities at EA is the Director of Engineering for the popular gaming website Pogo.com. He and his team are “busy modernizing the experience and the tech[nology] to keep people engaged and having fun well into the future.” While many of our panelists are game designers, Ian specializes in the implementation of games. His passion is software development, with a focus in games.
Early in Ian’s career, he pursued game development as a hobby. And a very talented hobbyist indeed! He soon landed a job with local game development start-up company. One of the games he developed earlier in his career, which has earned a special place in his heart, is “a multi-player web and mobile Chinese Checkers game [that he] developed while at J2X. It served as a great reference game for developers using the J2Play platform. The AI was particularly interesting to work on because of the complexity the 6-player game provided and the scant resources of circa 2003 cell phones.”
Master Chief Executive Officer at Will Pwn 4 Food
Ivan has turned his hobby as a hard-core gamer into a career as a game developer. He and his team are currently working on a game called DodgeBots, “a fast action 3D game where 15 players join for a dollar and the top 5 split the pot!” It's a survival game where you use your ninja like reflexes to dodge a face full of balls!” says Ivan, who has a special fondness for this game because it's his only developed game and he designed it.
An avid entrepreneur, Ivan’s couldn’t pass up the opportunity to combine his entrepreneurial drive with his passion for games. As a hard-core gamer, Ivan views owning his own game company as a win-win situation. While Ivan is an avid gamer who is currently playing League of Legends, his all-time favourite game is Defense of the Ancients. “Despite swearing it off 2 or 3 times, I kept coming back to it, even 5 years later,” explains Ivan. “They must have done something right.”
Founder and CEO, InfiniDy Corp
Rashid’s game design career began when Apple opened their mobile platform to developers. Rashid and fellow co-founder of Infinidy, Cai, seized this opportunity to develop their first game: 9000 B.C. “Although the game needed lots of improvement around its design, we saw some success and managed to rack up a huge following once we got the community of gamers involved with the design and testing process” describes Rashid.“
Four years later, after releasing close to a dozen games with more than 10 million downloads, here we are – looking forward to entertaining millions of more gamers!” Rashid has developed quite a few games at this point, but can say that his favourite one to work on was the 2012 Zombie vs. Aliens game.Rashid and his team are currently working on a game they first developed in 2011 called Happy Park. “The game got so popular, with over 5.5 million users to date, that we are still adding features and improving it” explains Rashid.
“Happy Park was influenced by one of my summer work experiences at Canada’s Wonderland and visits to Six Flags, Universal Studios Theme Park, Disneyland and Disney World. It is a freemium simulation game where the player is challenged to craft a five-star Theme Park starting from a simple fair. The player can build Roller Coasters, Water Rides; hire Mascots, research crazy rides, complete fun quests to win other rewards and more.”
Accordingly, Rashid’s favourite game falls within the same medium that he excels in creating: mobile games. His favourite game is Tiny Wings. “It's colorful, has a cute story line, great sound effects and awesome music” he says.
Interested parties can purchase tickets for $5 online on Eventbrite or register at the door on the day of the event. Join our panel of video game industry professionals for game design workshops in the morning, and compete with others to create the ultimate video game elevator pitch!
Do we have a pitch ready or will we create one there?
No. You can have some ideas ready, but you are not required to come with a prepared game pitch. We will announce a “secret ingredient” on the day of the event that needs to be included in all of the game designs.
How much does it cost to participate? And how can I sign-up?
$5. You can pre-register on Eventbrite or sign up at the event. Payment is CASH ONLY on the day of the event.
I don’t have any experience designing games, can I still participate?
Yes! We welcome anyone who is interested in participating to do so.
Is there a set criteria the kind of game we are creating?
Not exactly. You can create a pitch for any type of game. The medium (board game, video game, card game, etc.) and genre (puzzle, role-playing, etc.) is up to you. However, you will need to include the “secret ingredient,” which will be revealed at the event.
What will we be doing throughout the day?
9:00 am - 9:30 am Welcome and Introductions with the entire panel
9:30 am - 10:30 am Q&A with the entire panel
10:30 am - 10:45 am Break
10:45 am - 12:00 pm Workshop groups (Participants will be organized into groups and work on their game pitch)
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm Pitch presentations
3:00 pm - 3:30 pm Judges debate their choices
3:30 pm - 4:00 pm Winners declared
Who are the panelists?
· Neil Randall: Director, The Games Institute
· Andrew Matlock: CEO & Creative Director at Industry Corporation
· Natalie Herzing: Communications Director at Industry Corporation
· Ian Crawford: Director of Studio Operations, Kitchener at Electronic Arts
· Ivan Lukianchuk: Master Chief Executive Officer at Will Pwn 4 Food
· Rashid Khan: Founder and CEO, InfiniDy Corp
Who is this event open to?
Everyone! We welcome anyone who is interested in participating to do so.
Will I be competing alone or as part of a team?
This will depend on the total number of participants. If there are only a few participants, you will work individually. If there are many participants, you will be organized into small groups. We encourage you to bring friends or others you would like to work with. We will accommodate requests to be in the same group as a friend.
Will there be anything to eat or should I pack my own food?
Pizza and refreshments will be provided during the lunch break. We will not be able to accommodate all dietary needs, so if you have any particular dietary restrictions you are encouraged to bring your own lunch. Snacks are not provided but welcome.
What is the criteria for evaluating the game pitch?
The evaluation criteria are listed on the Game Evaluation Rubric (clicking link will automatically open Microsoft Word document).