BY CARMEN PONCIANO
Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College have joined forces to offer a game design and development program this fall as part of a bachelor of fine and applied arts degree at Laurier’s Brantford campus.
During the four years, students will take courses at Laurier with some Conestoga faculty doing the teaching. Courses include analog gaming and interactivity, game design foundations, 2D and 3D design (Conestoga) and sound design for games (Conestoga).
“Brantford is known for their video game development and I wanted to provide a program with the resources we already have here,” said Kathryn Carter, associate dean of academic co-ordination at Laurier.
The new program will help the students to develop various skills including in game design, storytelling and entrepreneurship. In their fourth year students will create their own video game and, by using Laurier’s Launchpad program, which gives students the opportunity to build their own business with help from mentors and resources, they will be able to develop their game as a possible design for outside corporations.
Conestoga College plays a significant role as its courses will focus on teaching the video game aspect of it, delivering six courses throughout the four-year program.
“At the university, we didn’t have the expertise to handle the video game side of teaching. I really felt like I wanted this to be more of a hands-on program,” Carter said. “Once Conestoga decided it was going to do more with Brantford, it seemed like an obvious choice and it has worked out extremely well.”
At the Brantford campus a games lab is being built which Carter is looking forward to. She says it will be called the world’s best rec room as it will have areas for game consoles, board games and designated spaces where students can test games.
“The fact that we can have a games lab where there will be couches so the students can hang out and be emerged in the world of games, I think will be the best thing in September,” Carter said.
Since the birth of the idea, Carter has faced a long journey to get the program approved as she said it is a long process to get a university course in place. Because of the many layers of approval she needed to get – from the university, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities as well as having two provincial bodies oversee the project – it took Carter seven years to launch the program.
But her timing couldn’t be more perfect. Not only is it a unique program in the province but over the last couple of years video gaming has become a rapidly growing industry in entertainment, training, corporations and education. Despite the long haul Carter said it was worth the wait.