Holland College prepares students for work in the gaming industry

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Holland College Video Game Art and Design student Samantha Bruce posing for the camera. Conway photo.

The people are friendly and most of them are group inspired and work together to achieve their goals, said Holland College Video Game Arts and Design student, Samantha Bruce.

Video Game Arts and Design is a two year program, which provides students the necessary training to enter the video game industry.

Bruce said there are a lot of oppourtunites in a lot of different areas of expertise and there are also a lot of requirements which must be met before students can enter the program.

“There are different ways studnets can enter the program. There is an introductory course, which is how most people got in. I wasn’t one of them.”

She said although she applied later on in the year, she was accepted into the course based on her portfolio.

“A portfolio should have good enough drawing skill. It has to be more than just the basics. Show that you can work in digital and 2D art and show that you have a creative mind.”

She said she showed plenty of works she did in pencil, ink, photography, digital media and photoshop.

A resume and an essay about why you want to be in the course is also needed, she said.

“Some of the artwork I had in my portfolio were character sketches and some were a little bit of everything. Some were in colour and some were not and some were pictures of everything from background to foreground to charcters with all of it being in colour.”

A photograph of yourself, which you drew and a picture of a room in your house as well, said Bruce.

“My specialty is characters in general. I’m not really great with machinces or drawing them. More in the line of character-bodies, people, portraits. I’m doing better with backgrounds though.”

The course throws together a lot of group activities because video game companies have to know that you are a team player, she said.

“You can’t be one of those people who always works alone.”

Programs and everything else used to design a game like Halo for example, are used in the program, Bruce said.

“We’ve built churches, underwater scenes, forrests, a temple and a spaceship, and a lot of other things in general to because it will help us go into the work force when we ask for jobs.”

Chris Sharpley, learning manager of the Video Game Arts and Design program said the demands for breaking into the industry depends on the position you would want to fill when breaking in.

 “If you are a programmer, in order to get a job, the best thing to have is experience in some type of game development either a previous employer or a moded version of an existing game with some new levels or create a little demos and flash games yourself.”

He said designers, should have previous experience at a design studio or alternatively work with a programmer.

“The desginer and the programmer can create a little demo.”

“Or just being able to express his/her ideas and have a book full of designs, flow charts, character bios, things like that.”

Sharpley said he used to be an artist and the best thing to do is to do as he did and that is to have prior experience.

“If not have a portfolio and a show reel. The portfolio should have 25 pages with really nice artwork, that looks as good as you would see in a real game.”

An advisory meeting is held every year at Holland College, in which local employers are invited to look at the work of the students from the Video Game Art and Design program said Sharpley.

“There are a lot of I-Phone game developers in town and hand held gaming in general, whenever possible we are using smaller screen resolutions and file size restricitions to give students experience in working with these devices.”

Students in the Video Game Art and Design program learn how to work with both 2-D and 3-D graphics, he said.

“They learn different rendering techniques, lightning, how to formulate the games strategy, use of cameras, how to make different materials and digital art.”

“They also learn story boarding, animatics, titling, compositing and how to get their ideas across on paper and figure drawing.”

He said the students also learn about the history of the video game industry, which will be important to if they want to work in the industry.

“We do an introduction to the video games industry, looking at the history of consloes, current and future trends.”

Samantha said a dream of hers would be to work for Blizzard Entertainment, which produces World of Warcraft, Diablo II, and Starcraft.

“They have the same goals as I do. They are producing fantasy games and artwork, which is what I want to do.”

“I can’t see that happening right away but I would like to do it eventually. Until then I’m going to focus on concept art when I finish school.”

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