The 29th Annual Game Design Awards Show

Just like that, summer is almost 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 August 15th has a mix of parts: one part formal, and one part fun. The formal part of the evening began with a speech from myself, then the student-elected class speaker Jordan Tame spoke about his favourite Kung Fu movie, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Andrew Laing closed the speeches with some heart-warming words and gelato.

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 about the fact that Andrew brought Gelato. The formalities continued with the handing out of diplomas and the embarrassingly long handshakes that make up that portion of the evening. Congratulations to Pedro and Peter who both graduated with honours.

Finally in an emotion filled moment, Game Design Staff and the GD29 Students presented an honorary Diploma in Game Design to Stanley Skiba, a classmate who tragically passed away in June. Stanley’s mother and sisters attended to accept the diploma.

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 Andrew Laing and Head of Game Design Dave Warfield 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 Pedro Fraiao de Cardial with his game concept Balls to the Wall .

During term one, the students create a board game. TA’s Jordan Lang and Quin Henshaw presented the award for Best Board Game won by Liam Semeniuk for 3rd Wheel.

Next up is everyone’s favourite assignment — the biblical in size, Detailed Design Document. Their Detailed Design Document instructor Jon Falkowski and TA Brant Stutheit gave the award to Dave Warfield on behalf of Stanley Skiba  for his game, A Week with a Porcupine.

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: Tyson Sawatski (Level Design), Colin Scheibelhut (Story), Kristine Tilos (Coding), and Justus Bloy (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 Kristine Tilos and Nathan Tipper presented the award to Quin Henshaw one of the Teaching Assistants at VFS.

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

First up, graduating students Ulrika Tegtmeier and Swapan Shah presented the Best Instructor Award to Vincent Chi, then graduating students Victor Ruiz and Sebastien (Sebs) Izquierdo presented the Best Course Award to Jon Riva for the Character Design 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. GD Alumni, and former TA Mario Granillo and Flash TA Benjamin Stern presented the award to Year of the Dragon by Luciana Abe, Pedro Fraiao de Cardial, and Swapan Shah. 

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… Programming Instructor Peter Walsh, and Game Theory Instructor Chris Mitchell first presented the class, in a long standing game industry tradition, with a gravy boat,  before saying “And the Winner is… Nuts for Gems” by Kristine Tilos, Pedro Fraiao de Cardial, Liam Semeniuk, and Luciana Abe. 

Photo: Liam Semeniuk, Luciana Abe, Pedro Fraiao de Cardial and Kristine Tilos with their gravy boats and 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 the Malone’s. Let’s just say, 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