Graduation and Awards Show for the 30th class of Game Design

It’s almost Halloween, and once again the Game Design program has a reason to celebrate. It’s graduation night, a night to celebrate, to look back on the year, and recognize the amazing things they have done.

The Graduation and Awards show on October 17th has a mix of parts: one part formal, and one part fun. The formal part of the evening hosted by Tanya Jensenbegan with a speech from myself, then the student-elected class speaker Anthony Bruno broke down some vital statistics of his past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Andrew Laing closed the speeches with some heart-warming words and stories about fog.

Each of the speakers had some deep insight into what they had just been through, and how to prepare for the coming months, but mostly it was a chance to look back on the year, and look ahead to the bright future this class has. The formalities continued with the handing out of diplomas and the embarrassingly long handshakes that make up that portion of the evening. Congratulations to Anthony, Andy, Elad, Eric, Joel and Adrien, all who graduated with honours.
Next, during a short break, parents, friends and family members were invited up to the 2nd floor production space, where they could see the area that the students’ final projects were created, play the games they made and have some snacks and refreshments.

After the break, the Awards show began…

Game Design Awards

Project Design Instructor Chris Mitchell and Game Design TA Brant Stutheit presented the first award, Best Game Concept Award; an award that looks at the original and unique game ideas that students create in their first couple of terms. The winner was Joel Bailey with his game concept The Amazing Yuri’s Happy Romance Adventuring .

During term one, the students create a board game. Game Theory Practical instructor Jonathan Falkowski and Coding TA Quin Henshaw presented the award for Best Board Game won by Anthony Bruno for Pirate Gems.

Next up is everyone’s favourite assignment — the biblical in size, Detailed Design Document. Their Detailed Design Document instructor Jon Falkowski and GD Alumni Mario Granillo gave the award to Andy Fedorchuk  for his game, Dr. Hops.

The awards were then given for the Excellence Awards, which are based on outstanding work done during the year in one of 4 specialties: Level Design, Story, Coding and Art. The winners were: Anthony Bruno (Level Design), Joel Bailey (Story), Eric Canavese (Coding), and Elad Falk (Art).

The students were asked to select an “Unsung Hero” — someone who goes out of their way to assist, guide, or educate, separately from any type of instructor responsibilities. Graduating students Emilio Rentaria and Jordan McNeely presented the award to Anthony Bruno, who came up to accept his third award of the evening.

Also selected by students are two awards that focus on the classroom: the Best Instructor and Best Course Awards.

First up, graduating students Justin Jones and Wilar Aguilar presented the Best Instructor Award to Calder Archinuk, then graduating students Andy Fedorchuk and Gabriel Rutherford presented the Best Course Award to Calder Archinuk for the Level Design 3 course. Calder was a big winner in the eyes of these students.

Then it was the 2 awards everyone is waiting for, the 2 group projects: the Best Flash Game is the first team-based game project that students create in term 2. Game Audio Instructor Steve Royea and Flash TA Benjamin Stern presented the award to Kentucky Flash by Eric Canavese, Elad Falk, and Andy Fedorchuk . (click HERE to check it out)

The final award of the evening is also the biggest assignment of the year — the culmination of an entire year’s worth of training put into practice… the 8 week Pre-Production, 12 week Development, team-based Final Projects… Game Mechanics instructor Andrew Laing, and Head of Game Design Dave Warfield used the assistance of the local “community” to help them choose a winner,  before saying “And the Winner is… Saturday Pirate Night” by Gabriel Rutherford, Luca Cafasso, Elad Falk, and Riley Ducharme. (click HERE to check it out)

Photo: Gabriel Rutherford, Luca Cafasso, Elad Falk, Riley Ducharme with their awards for Best Final Project Awards

(For a complete list of past Game Design Awards Winners click here)

Following the Awards show, a post-graduation celebration was held at Chill Winston. As best we could tell, a good time was had by all.

The Nominees and winners should all be very proud of their work, but this was just a small sample of the incredible work that all of these students did over the course of the year. So, to the entire 29th class of  Game Design, I say, Con-GRAD-ulations! I look forward to seeing amazing things from all of you in the future!


Dave Warfield is the Head of Game Design at VFS