More than 380 game professionals and aspiring game designers turned out for the seventh annual Game Design Expo and Open House. The two-day event kicked off with a sold-out Industry Speaker Day on Saturday featuring the leading minds behind Halo 4 and the Assassin’s Creed franchise. On Sunday, Vancouver Film School (VFS) opened its doors with sample classes to over 200 aspiring game designers. As always, the speaker sessions were informative with more than a few touches of humour thrown in for good measure. Patrick Plourde (Creative Director, Ubisoft) is one of my favourite speakers, and his session on New Horizons For Game Design was one of my top picks for the day, along with Tuomas Pirinen (Game Director, Slant Six Games) and his presentation on The Bowling Dead.
“In the new world order, engagement is the key,” Clive Downie, CEO – Americas and Europe for leading mobile game studio DeNA, told a packed house on Saturday. Engagement was what brought these game professionals and enthusiasts together, just as the game industry simultaneously finds itself maturing and undergoing a seismic market shift toward different types of play. At the heart of all the talks at Industry Speaker Day: the future. Lead-off speaker Chris Haluke (Halo 4) said that his goal is to “propel the industry forward,” a theme that would be echoed throughout the day.
“It has been a fantastic and insightful weekend,” says Dave Warfield, Head of the one-year Game Design program at VFS. “It’s a great experience to learn from such a great mix of game designers. Every year we receive overwhelming support for this event and it makes a great platform for us to launch this year’s Women in Games Scholarship.”
In addition to having the opportunity to participate in sample classes and test-drive student and alumni made games, attendees of the Open House were privy to the announcement of the fifth annual Women in Games Scholarship. The scholarship is the first of its kind in the world and provides full tuition for an aspiring female game designer to attend VFS. The scholarship was established in an effort to encourage greater opportunities for women, in a field traditionally dominated by men. Previous winners of the Women in Games Scholarship include Shannon Lee from Canada, Annie Dickerson from the United States, Larissa Baptista from Brazil, and Kristina Soltvedt Wiik from Norway making this a truly global award.
We missed the opening session on Saturday and the Open House due to day job responsibilities, but you can catch the top Tweets from the Game Design Expo here on Storify from the #gdexpo feed. Make a note to yourself now to attend GDX 2014, you’ll be glad you did.