On Friday, April 26, Kitchener City Hall witnessed a massive turnout of game designers, artists, and enthusiasts for the first annual "Make a Game or DIY Trying" game design workshop and tournament hosted by The Games Institute. Participants came from all walks of life; high school and university students, games industry professionals, and just about anyone with a passion for gaming, a thirst for knowledge, and a desire to prove themselves worthy as game designers. The event raised local awareness for The Games Institute, fostered growth within Waterloo's burgeoning video-game community, and allowed gaming-enthusiasts both young and old to showcase their knowledge and skills.
The morning’s Q&A session provided a rare opportunity for the panel of industry professionals to share game industry knowledge with the participants. The panelists, who also served as judges for the game design competition, were Dr. Neil Randall (Director, Games Institute), Andrew Matlock (CEO, Industry Corp.), Natalie Herzing (Communications Director, industry corp.), Ian Crawford (Director of Studio Operations, Electronic Arts Canada, Kitchener office), Ivan Lukianchuk (CEO, Will Pwn 4 Food), and Rashid Khan (Founder and CEO, InfiniDy Corp.). Each of the panelists shared their unique views on the multitude of opportunities available within the games industry, and offered advice on how to pursue a career in games. “It’s important for game designers to understand that originality is important, but conforming to game industry standards (particularly standards in design elements and graphic styles) is what makes a game designer hirable” says Randall. The Q&A session quickly turned into a rich discussion on the importance of prototyping; the role of narrative, dialogue, and story in games; artists and the design process; the integration of gaming and social media; and games as both art and business, to name a few.
The prevalent theme throughout the discussion was advising aspiring designers on finding their own niche within the games industry. Understanding the interplay between conceptual design, game design, and coding is crucial. Self-marketing and effective game pitch ultimately determine whether or not a game gets picked up. The afternoon’s game design tournament was a testament to these very principles when participants were divided into groups to work on “the perfect game design elevator-pitch.” The pitches included a wide variety of game genres including adventure, role-playing, social, and board games. The Q&A panel acted as judges for the pitches, deciding who would take home the first, second, and third place prize packages, which included a Retron II game console, a Mario collectible figure, a Fluxx card game, several gift cards, and various other game memorabilia.
In short, the event was a huge success! The organizers were amazed at the large turnout. But more importantly, the participants were able to network as well as learn about the game industry from the first-hand experiences of the panelists.
A very special thank you to the panelists and to sponsors of the event: InfiniDy, Industry Corp., Electronic Arts Canada (Kitchener office), Will Pwn 4 Food, KW Vintage Games, Good Time Games, Games Exchange, Just by Chance Games, and the city of Kitchener.
"Make a Game or DIY Trying" was one of the several events The Games Institute is hosting in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. The Games Institute conducts research into the past, present, and future of digital games in the fields of entertainment, education, health, and business.