VFS @ SXSW : The Best of Both Worlds

Setting up the VFS Game Design Booth at SXSW

Last week, Vancouver Film School visited Austin, Texas to attend South by Southwest (SXSW), Austin’s annual mega-festival, which celebrates film, music and interactive media on both a local and international scale. Consider this a case of testing the waters — since it was VFS’s first visit — but it demonstrates that VFS shows well on any stage, and we really enjoyed meeting, greeting and eating amongst the city’s finest and friendliest.

First of all, full disclosure that I’m an alumnus (yes, I Googled the grammar), and a very recent one at that, of the VFS Game Design program. SXSW was a real thrill for its size and bustle, and it’s officially the first event that I’ve got to visit as a full-blown industry professional. While there, I met developers from Unity, Nintendo, the new Xi3 Piston computer, and of games like Hawken, Tomb Raider (the new one!) and World of Tanks. I even sat in on a discussion featuring one of my favourite designers, Jenova Chen, the creator of Journey, Flower and Flow, and found myself building Lego creations at a random table, sitting beside the legendary Cliff Bleszinski, the creator of Gears of War. I helped him look for fence pieces.

A crowd of interest in the Game Design Booth

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Best Final Project : Major Hertz

One of the ultimate outcomes of the VFS Game Design program is the final project, where “guided by mentors carefully selected from local development studios, student teams conceive, plan, and execute game design projects.” The results are presented at the industry night Pitch N’ Play. Students strive to be original and entertaining, and in the case of Major Hertz, they certainly hit the mark. The game was developed by students James Daniell, Alex Schmidt, Josh Reader, Michael Shannon and Ed Hicks (with collaborative help by Moritz Grabosch, Alastair Leong, Bobby Sangha, Alan Riva Palacio, Kevin Locsin, Daniel Martin and Cody Howes).

Major Hertz won the prize for Best Final Project for their graduating class and was recently one of the featured games at the 2013 Game Design Expo. I spoke recently with the graduates about the game and their experience creating it.
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