The Video Game Development club at MacEwan is both founded and run by students. The club encourages learning game development within an interactive and creative environment. President Vanessa Capito and Vice President Keshia Smith recently sat down to answer a few questions.
Q: There’s a few clubs centered around video games here at MacEwan. What differentiates the Video Game Development Club from the others?
VC: We make games. The other clubs play games, and there is a very big difference in making a game and playing a game.
Q: The club’s description on SAMU’s website states that you help students build a resume for going out into the video game industry. How does the club do that?
VC: The idea is that we create a game together as a team and the people involved in the development of that game can use that in their portfolios, because video game development is very collaborative and multidisciplinary. (In video game development), you don’t only need computer science students or programmers to build the backend or the systems.
You need writers who can actually write the stories and bring the characters to life, artists to create art assets like all the environmental art, musicians and sound technicians who can create sound effects and compose music for the game, you need business students, and you need people who can do project management.
I’m the lead producer of the club, and a lot of what I do is what I like to call ‘herding cats’, getting all these creative types together to actually hunker down and do what they should be doing.
Q: How did you and Keisha become President and Vice President at the club?
VC: I founded the club. I took Computing 230 (which is Introduction to Video Games) a couple of years ago. That’s taught by Brian Brookwell, who is one of our faculty advisors. He mentioned that he was interested in trying to start a development club. I was in my first year, and I thought ,if that club exists, then I’d love to join! Two years later I came back to school after switching programs and the club still didn’t exist, so I decided to start it. I figured if I wanted to join a club like that, then other people would too, and people did! It blew up.
KS: Before I came to MacEwan, I went to the Art Institute of Vancouver, and did the game developing program there. Then during club days of last January I saw the club and figured it would be really fun to help out with. In the summer, over GDX (the Games Discovery Exhibition here in Edmonton,) the position became available; so I went for it.
Q: Vanessa, you told me before that talking about the club is one of your favourite things to do. why is that?
VC: I love our club. It’s made up of a lot of great, awesome people. And I love that the club has been able to bring all these people together because we’re all from different programs. I’m in Communications, I started off in Arts, Keisha’s in Business, Kevin (the lead designer of the game) is in Computer Science. My friend Nick … is the lead sound designer this year; he’s in Sciences. Without the club, a lot of the friends we’ve made and the relationships we’ve formed would have never happened. It’s great that something like this has been able to bring people together.
Q: Could you tell me a little bit about the Game you’re working on?
VC: We can’t talk much about it because of the non-disclosure agreement built into our Constitution. But we are making a 2D sci-fi side scrolling level platforming game, (which is) more of a platforming game with puzzle elements. One of the biggest themes of the game asks: how does what I do affect other people? How does it affect the world? And also, what makes a person a person?
Q: Can anyone join the club?
VC: Our mantra is anyone and everyone, regardless of your experience level or skillsets. If you want to join and you want to be involved, we’ll gladly let you in. We have a lot of first years this year, and they came in because they want to learn. So as long as you’re willing to try something new, this club is probably a good fit for you. You don’t even need to like video games. If you just want to create something then it would be a good fit.
Q: Besides making games, are there any other activities that you do in the club?
VC:We (MacEwan) don’t really have a lot of courses for game development for anyone who’s really interested besides the 4 classes in the Computer Science stream. What we do is pool our knowledge base–a lot of us are self-taught–and we do mini lessons. I do mini lessons on game design, Keisha taught level design, (and) Jeric and I did a section on game writing.
We do something we like to call a ‘talk and play’ every now and then, especially around exams. We play a game and we talk about it, so it’s not just playing a game for fun. It’s actually taking a game and looking at what makes it tick, what about it works, what doesn’t work, and why.
We also do networking events. We’ve been lucky in that Edmonton has a blossoming video games industry, and that they’ve taken interest in us and other student groups. A large part of getting into this industry is about who you know, so hosting these big events really helps to get the students in our club in contact with possible mentors and possible employers.
Q: Is there anything else that you want people to know about the club?
VC:We can go back to our mantra. Maybe you’re not necessarily interested in going into games as a career, but maybe you’re interested in seeing how they’re made – we take anyone and everyone regardless of your program or your experience with games. If you just want to be a part of something great and create something, come check us out. We’re a friendly bunch!
The Video Game Development Club meets in room 7-277 from 12:30 – 3:30pm every Tuesday.
GADEC’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
GADEC’s Facebook group.
Cover photo supplied.