Graduation & Awards show for the 32nd class of Game Design

The Olympics are over, 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 February 27th 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 Rony Miller spoke from the hip about his classmates past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Jonathan Falkowski closed the speeches with some heart-warming words and stories about this crazy batch of students.

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 Miles, Melissa, Sebastian, Gui, and Karthik, 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 Head of Game Design Dave Warfield presented the first award in a helium induced fog, the 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 Melissa Borda with her game concept Dexter the Dark Defender.


During term one, the students create a board game. Game Theory Practical instructor Jay Cormier and Art TA Jordan Lang presented the award for Best Board Game won by Sebastian Pachmayr for Orrosta.


Next up is everyone’s favourite assignment — the biblical in size, Detailed Design Document. Their Detailed Design Document instructor Jon Falkowski and GD TA Brant Stutheit gave the award to Miles Lepine  for his game, Stay Silent.


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: Devon Shimek (Level Design), Karthik Subramanyam (Story), Guilherme Leite (Coding), and Sebastian Pachmayr (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 Michael Cameron and Brandon Crawford presented the award to Larry Baert from IT Support, who unfortunately wasn’t available to accept his well-deserved award.

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

First up, graduating students Moustafa Tharwat and Melissa Borda presented the Best Instructor Award to Andrew Laing, then graduating students Rony Miller and Devon Shimek presented the Best Course Award to Jonathan Falkowski for the Detailed Design Docs course. 


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 Instructor Jacob Tran presented the award to Duvessa of Skoll by Karthik Subramanyam, Devon Shimek, and Brandon Crawford. (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 Project Mentor Gord Cooper announced “And the Winner is… Rails of Fury” by Melissa Borda, Colin Cormier, Sebastien Pachmayer, Karthik Subramanyam, Miles Lepine. (click HERE to check it out)


Before things were over,  a special award was presented, the Mt. Everest Award. An award that represents someone who is presented with a huge obstacle, and is able to overcome it. Dave Warfield presented this rare award to Brandon Crawford for his hard work and dedication on his solo final project Highlights. (click HERE to check it out)

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


Following the Awards show, a post-graduation celebration was held at 131 Water. 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 32nd 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