GD33 Graduation & Awards Show

Spring is in the air, 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 April 24th has a mix of parts: one part formal, and one part fun. The formal part of the evening hosted by Tanya Jensenbegan with a congratulatory speech from the Head of Game Design Dave Warfield, then the student-elected class speaker Janel Jolly spoke about the strength of the bond between all of her classmates this past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Dan Sochan closed the speeches with some great advice and words of wisdom for the most recent group of Game Design Alumni.


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 Alberto, Frankie, Maria and Janel, 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 Senior Instructor Andrew Laing presented the first award for 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 Maria Lee with her game concept Make Your City.


During term one, the students create a board game. Game Theory Practical instructor Graeme Jahns and TA Alvin Kwok presented the award for Best Board Game won by Anna Prein for Cosmonauts.


Next up is everyone’s favourite assignment — the biblical in size, Detailed Design Document. Their Detailed Design Document instructor Jon Falkowski and Business of Games instructor Ryan Donaldson gave the award to Victor Zanelatto  for his game, Counter Z Force.


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: Nick Plouffe (for both Level Design and Story), Siddharta RD (Coding), and Tyson Bednar (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 Juan Carlos Perecruz and Frankie Fasola presented the award to Quin Henshaw a former TA and now a technical mentor during Project Development.


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

First up, graduating students Maria Lee and Michelangelo Pereira presented the Best Instructor Award to Andrew Laing, then graduating students Alberto Mastretta and Tyson Bednar presented the Best Course Award to Ryan Donaldson for the Business of Games 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 Enlightenment by Tyson Bednar, Michelangelo Pereira, and Maria Lee. (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… Presentation Skills instructor and Design Mentor Dan Sochan, and Head of Game Design Dave Warfield announced “And the Winner is… Jukebox Paradise” by Maria Lee, Janel Jolly, Frankie Fasola, and Alberto Mastretta. (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 The Irish Heather. 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 33rd 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