Winning the Best Instructor and Best Course award in his first year of teaching at Vancouver Film School’s Game Design program, Chris Mitchell became an idol amongst students very quickly. Currently, he teaches Game Theory, Pre-Production Techniques and Project Design. I interviewed him him recently for my Game Journalism class assignment. All in all, it was a very nice interview. I got to know him better, and also got some good advice, which I would now like to share with all of you.
Hi Chris! First of all, I really appreciate your time, so thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Hopefully, this will be an opportunity for everyone to get to know you better, and we can steal some of your super powers to become very good game designers in the future.
So, why don’t you start by introducing yourself to our readers, ignoring the fact that you are well known in our school?
Chris Mitchell: Okay. Alright. I am Chris Mitchell. I am the guy who did quite a lot of design work in the game industry, and then also quite a lot of writing and voice direction as well. I suppose my first big success was Simpsons Hit and Run, where I got to do quite a lot of writing and worked with just tons of really cool people. I worked on things like Crash Bandicoot games after that. I also was lucky to be part of the group who made the DeathSpank franchise — I worked on all three of those games.
There is a quote I really like, which is, “the only thing that doesn’t change, is change itself.” Going from that, I would like to ask you: As the industry evolves, does the background of the Game Design students at VFS change as well? And if so, in what way?
Chris: Oh, that’s an interesting question. One thing I have noticed is that the students are much more technically savvy. I remember when I entered the industry, it was quite unusual to find people who already knew all the skills and tools that were required. Quite a lot of “on the job” learning happened back then. I am sure that’s still true to an extent today, but I keep meeting 18/19 year old students here who already know Maya, who are already programming, and what not. That was essentially unheard of when I first joined the game industry.
A night full of creativity and dedication – that was the impression we got from the Industry Night Pitch N Play on April 4, 2013, as the 27th graduating class of the VFS Game Design program showed off their final projects to an audience of industry professionals.
For the students, this was the high point of their year as they presented the result of four months of hard work. For the visiting industry professionals, it was the chance to get a glimpse at the new talent and their fresh and creative ideas. Even by VFS standards, the turnout was quite extraordinary. Relic Entertainment, Capcom and Fathom Interactive were only a few of the local companies present at this event.
Senior Instructor Andrew Laing set the tone for the evening when he opened by referring to the recent controversy about Richard Garriott, who, in an interview with Gamasutra, claimed that all the game designers he worked with “just really sucked.” But instead of letting this spoil the evening, Andrew concluded: “Well, he must have never met any of our game design students!”
And indeed, the five shown projects were quite impressive. Since the 27th graduating class was relatively small, one of the teams from the 28th Class, term five, was given the opportunity to present an early version of their project as a preview of their own industry night Pitch N Play coming up in June.
Chromeras is an online multiplayer game for the PC, and it provided a brilliant demonstration of what can be accomplished after little more than a month of development. The team had set up a match with their classmates on the production floor in order to demonstrate the multiplayer capabilities of their game.