Esports Education 2020: game design programs to get your creative juices flowing


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Maybe you don’t quite have the skills to be one of Canada’s top esports athletes, but you do feel your true calling is in the gaming world. And perhaps the idea of a career in marketing or management doesn’t exactly get your creative juices flowing. On the other hand, you might have a future in game design.

You’ve probably marvelled at the ineffable alchemy that goes into a great video game. It takes equal parts high-tech know-how and design savvy to make the next Fortnite or Breath of the Wild. It also takes an overarching creative vision.

Okay, maybe that last part can’t really be taught. But if you possess it already, there are plenty of programs across the country that will help you hone your skills. Here are just a handful…

Vancouver Institute of Media Arts

VanArts offers a one-year Game Art & Design program. The curriculum includes instruction in designing games for consoles, mobile devices, the web, and virtual-reality systems.

VanArts graduates have gone on to high-profile industry gigs. For example, Fernando Acosta, is now a senior concept artist at WB Games. Others include Genseki Tanaka, art director of Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3 and 4; and Aline Nordmark, a digital matte painter whose credits include Game of Thrones and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Prospective students can attend a webinar on August 20; click here to register.

Toronto Film School

Toronto Film School offers a Video Game Design and Animation Diploma through an 18-month on-campus program. Students will create artwork and animation as well as creating audio effects and composing music. They will also learn to develop production and business plans. In addition, the website promises that you’ll “create a multi-level interactive game and graduate with a diverse portfolio of video games showcasing your industry-readiness.”

Toronto Film School also offers a 24-month Video Game Animation program, with all classes online.

Vancouver Film School

Over six terms, VFS Game Design students take classes in game theory, production, storytelling, level design, interface design, and more. Not only that, but they also create an original game as a portfolio project. This is done in a team-based environment, using the Unity game engine.

VFS grads have gone on to work on such massively successful games as League of Legends, Mortal Kombat 11, God of War, and Luigi’s Mansion 3.

LaSalle College Vancouver

LaSalle offers a bachelor’s degree in Game Programming and diplomas in Game Art and Design, 3D Modeling for Animation and Games, Animation Art & Design, and VFX for Film and Television. In other words, the Vancouver college can provide a comprehensive education for anyone looking to break into the industry.

According to the LaSalle website, Game Art and Design course:

Students learn to write professional design documentation, design games, game systems, game mechanics and level environments, as well as apply knowledge to create their own interactive experiences. Students also have the opportunity to develop professional quality production work to showcase in a portfolio project.

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Students in NAIT’s Game Design stream gain first-hand experience designing, building, and assembling a working prototype of a game level. In addition, they learn the artistic and technical aspects involved in creating and implementing visual game assets. These include environments, characters, vehicles, and special effects, for example. The program also features courses that focus on developing story and audio.

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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