Game-Design-Expo-2013More than 380 game professionals and aspiring game designers turned out for the seventh annual Game Design Expo and Open House at the Vancouver Film School recently. The two-day event kicked off with a sold-out Industry Speaker Day on Saturday January 19, 2013 featuring the leading minds behind Halo 4 and the Assassin’s Creed franchise. On the Sunday, Vancouver Film School (VFS) opened its doors with sample classes to over 200 aspiring game designers.

Game Design Expo is an annual event for game industry professionals and enthusiasts hosted by Vancouver Film School’s Game Design program. Since the inaugural event in 2007 and continuing through the sold-out 2012 weekend, Game Design Expo has played host to such industry luminaries as Bruce Nesmith, Skyrim, and Jaakko Iisalo, Lead Designer of Angry Birds.

Founded in 1987, Vancouver Film School is Canada’s premier post-secondary entertainment arts institution and one of the most distinguished in the world. In the Game Design program, students learn all aspects of designing games, from visual storytelling to level design principles to the production process, ultimately creating playable games themselves.

“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.

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