Grad Night for the 35th class of Game Design

Summer is finally here, 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 21st 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 Jamie Thompson took us through an emotion filled story of the past year in Game Design, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Paul Jensen closed the speeches with his insights into the members of this graduating class.

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 Marlon, Dustin, Mark and Dylan, 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 Teaching Assistant Andy Fedorchuk 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 Dustin Williamson with his game concept Medieval Fad-tasy.


During term one, the students create a board game. Game Theory Practical instructor Graeme Jahns and TA Shad Miller presented the award for Best Board Game won by Travis Smith for Dead Silence.


Next up is everyone’s favourite assignment — the biblical in size, Detailed Design Document. DDDoc instructor Jonathan Falkowski and teaching assistant Jon Tittley gave the award to Mark Kazachinsky  for his game, The Last Call.


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: James Beasley (Level Design), Jamie Thompson & Cameron Hickey  (Story), Emilio Pelaez (Coding), and James Watson (Art).
(Editors Note: Sorry about the picture Emilio, stay in the light) 


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 Ryan White and Dillon Richard presented the award to Shad Miller, an alumni and Teaching Assistant 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 Jamie Thompson and Cameron Hickey presented the Best Instructor Award to Paul Jensen, then graduating students Enrique Klein and Dustin Williamson presented the Best Course Award to Victor Kam for the Mission 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. Game Audio Instructor Steve Royea and Flash Instructor Jacob Tran presented the award to Run or Roast by Dustin Williamson, Ethan Maddix, Emiliano Antonio Guerrero Solis, and James Beasley . (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… Instructor Paul Jensen, and Head of Game Design Dave Warfield announced “And the Winner is… Carrion” by Mark Kazachinsky, Kris Lee, Ethan Maddix, Marlon Franz, and Aleah Martin. (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 EXP Restaurant & Bar. 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 35th class of  Game Design, I say, Con-GRAD-ulations! I look forward to seeing amazing things from all of you in the future!