The 28th Graduation of Game Design

It’s June already, and once again the Game Design program has a reason to celebrate. Another group of amazing students has battled through the year, and has truly earned a reason to be proud. It wasn’t truly over when they finished their final projects, it’s tonight, the night they get their diplomas and learn who has won the end of year awards.

The Graduation and Awards show on June 20th 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 Ornella Carolina Mastretta had a few words, and finally student selected Instructor speaker Chris Mitchell closed the speeches with some heart-warming words.

There was laughter, there were tears, but mostly there were great reflections on the friendships that have formed, the experiences that the class have all been through together, and some useful advice for being successful, as they move onto the next phase of their lives. The formalities were wrapped up with the handing out of diplomas and the embarrassingly long handshakes that make up that portion of the evening. Congratulations to Lorena, Jethro, Francisco and Harry who all 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 Instructors Andrew Laing and Chris Mitchell presented 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 Lorena Robles Gutierrez with her game concept Despicable Me: Vector’s Revenge .

During term one, the students create a board game. TA’s Caylen Robertson and Damien LeLievre presented a #hashtag filled leadup to the award for Best Board Game won by Byron Munsie for Race of the Ice Mages.

Next up is everyone’s favourite assignment — the biblical in size, Detailed Design Document. Their Detailed Design Document instructor Jon Falkowski and Program Manager Tanya Jensen gave the award to Pedro Arimany  for his game, Noble Rule.

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: Harry Scott (Level Design), Lorena Robles Gutierrez (Story), Francisco Sotelo (Coding), and Jethro Aquino (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 Kristina Soltvedt Wiik and Lorena Robles Gutierrez presented the award to David Hinds one of the students of the graduating GD 28′s.

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

First up, graduating students Byron Munsie and Alessandro Pennelli presented the Best Instructor Award to Victor Kam, then graduating students Pavel Tomasik and Hampus Gross  presented the Best Course Award to the Game Design Faculty for the Project Development 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. The soon to be departing Flash instructor Chevy Ray Johnston and Unity instructor Bren Lynne presented the award to Carpal Diem by Francisco Sotelo , Alejandro Borjas, and KC Irvine.

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… Myself and Game Design Alumni/Project Mentor Richard Harrison were proud to say “And the Winner is… Chromeras by Jethro AquinoOrnella Carolina Mastretta, Lorena Robles Guitierrez, Francisco Sotelo, and Harry Scott.

Photo: Ornella Carolina Mastretta, Francisco Sotelo, Jethro Aquino, Lorena Robles Guitierrez and Harry Scott with their 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 Back Forty. 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 28th 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