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Academy of Art's Student Game Designers Take Part in #PlayApartTogether

Realizing the severe impact of the global pandemic to the game development industry, game designers immediately sought to actively work with institutions to encourage people to stay home and keep safe by playing video games.

In late March, top game industry companies such as Activision Blizzard, Big Fish Games, Twitch, Jam City, and others, joined forces to kick off a new initiative, #PlayApartTogether. Its goal is to raise awareness on the importance of physical distancing by bringing gamers across the world to play video games at home, together.

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) threw their support for this initiative, having recognized the potential of video games as a perfect platform for people to stay connected and be social despite not being able to leave home.

Playing Games as the “Public Service”

“I’m telling my students what we’re doing right now is a public service,” said Game Design Lead Steven “Goody” Goodale from Academy of Art University’s School of Game Development. “[Video games] are keeping people at home—keeping them engaged and communicating with each other. We’re helping people cope with this situation.”

Onsite to Online – the Future for Aspiring Game Developers

Although getting more people to stay indoors by playing video games sound ideal, this pivot to indoors also has had negative impacts on the industry. Many major industry events for example have been canceled due to safety concerns, proving to be especially frustrating for many independent and aspiring game developers hoping to use these events to build their network and showcase their work to the world.

Fortunately, Comic-Con, one of the most anticipated events in the industry, was also able to react and respond to the situation almost immediately. Although its onsite exhibition has been cancelled in light of the pandemic, the event was able to push through online.

Academy of Art University was also among those that swiftly adjusted from onsite to online, both in academics and events. It was important to still be able to provide game development students and alumni the platform to showcase their work and engage with industry professionals.

As a matter of fact, the Academy was supposed to participate at the cancelled Comic-Con. Not all was lost, though, because Academy of Art’s School of Game Development was able to retain its Comic-Con exhibition booth, albeit now exclusively online.

The 2020 Spring Show is another great example of how the future of events and career development in the game industry would be for independent and aspiring game developers

Academy’s 2020 Spring Show event includes virtual and interactive opportunities to continue the Academy’s long-standing tradition of connecting its students with leading companies across the globe such as Laika, Nissan, Tesla, Nike, Mattel, Louis Vuitton, Blue Sky Studios, Riot Games, Chronicle Books, and Blizzard.

“[To] get jobs,” said Executive Director of Game Development David Goodwine. He acknowledged that while the day’s interviews may not result in an immediate hire, it’s the facetime with industry representatives that provides his students an edge in a competitive field. “If I can get as many of these students in front of as many companies as possible, all in one spot, that is ideal.”

Game Time

#PlayApartTogether features fresh, exciting work from young game designers, including students from Academy of Art.

These games, listed below, come from students at Goodale’s Prototype class, which simulates pitching and developing a game prototype within a span of six weeks. For many students, this project is their first public game. 

“[They] might be a little rough around the edges, but all [of them] are still a blast to play,” Goodale said. 

Access the links in the subheadings to see their games.

Liege

Produced by Brendan Wolf, Andrew Kaufman, Mohsen Ghafari, Dante Finn

I Don’t Want to Die!

Produced by graduate students Duy Phan, Alberto Guerra, and Neil Banez

My Chosen Fate”

Produced by Alvin Chan, Angel Garcia, Blake Pierson, DongHyun Lim, Hana Nguyen

Brain

Produced by Liang Hong, Runlai Li.

Article originally published by Nina Tabios in ArtU News.

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