By Tanya Yeomans, September 28 2020—
If you enjoy getting your creative thoughts flowing, collaborating with students from different backgrounds and building projects for others to enjoy, the Game Design Club at the University of Calgary might be for you. The club is the student center for creative video game building and design on campus.
“Our club is dedicated to anything to do with both designing and developing games,” described Oliver Morrish, president of the club. “We capture a lot of different parts of that process. That includes art, it includes music, it includes level design, voice acting and programming — you name it.”
The club is open to everyone, and a background knowledge of programming is not required to benefit from a membership in the club.
“We’re completely open to members of any background, any orientation and gender,” Morrish said. “We think that’s very important.”
Regular meetings are held to showcase works in progress, to chat about upcoming games and to support each other. For those who aren’t interested in design themselves, there are opportunities to beta test games, provide feedback to game creators and to learn other skills. The club is planning tutorials on wide ranging topics such as introductions to Unity programming and 2D illustration.
“We will have something going every week that’s interesting or can open your eyes to something new,” said Morrish.
The club also plans to bring in guest speakers to help build connections and learn from the wider community.
The Game Design Club encourages collaboration and teamwork to facilitate learning. For some, that might mean working at developing skills or building a game throughout the school year. For others that enjoy faster paced development, the Game Design Club has teams compete in the annual Global Game Jam. Participants build a functional, themed game in a condensed 48-hour time period.
If you are new to the idea of building games, but don’t know how to begin, Morrish has some advice.
“Start small, build something you think is completely trivial — something you’re certain you can build with very little effort, and you’ll find that it’s a little tougher than you think, but that will teach you the ropes. It will teach you the basics.”
A browse of the club’s games on itch.io highlights some of the club member’s creations. They range from a puzzle solver with a boy finding a time machine in his bedroom, to a mainframe terminal text-based story, to a building origami cats to throw at an ever-increasing row of buildings.
When testing out the games, it becomes apparent that these are the efforts of many people with different backgrounds.
“If I had to pick one property that we need in new folks, it’s creatives,” said Morrish. “There’s so many different skill sets that you need to fill. If anybody makes music, knows how to animate, is good at voice acting, or just has a fantastic idea for a game they’re interested in, we’re happy to have them and we will embrace them with open arms.”
For more information about the Game Design Club, check out their club page and sign up for their Discord Server.