Games Programs: FAQ
We make games.
Who should take this course?
You. You should take this course. You should take this course if you love building things. You should take this course if you love learning. You should take this course if you want to learn skills you can use to chart your own path and take charge of your own development. Whether you are a programmer, a dancer, a science major, or an engineer you should take this course if you want to learn how to use the skills you have to work in one of the largest and fastest growing industries on earth.
Who is teaching this course?
People who love making games and want to share their passion for game-making with as many people as possible. The two main instructors have been teaching creative professionals for years and have a track record of helping people find careers in digital media, games, and creative technology. Joining them are a group of experts that work in the industry who give feedback on your work and provide opportunities for submitting portfolios and applications for internships and jobs.
Why should I take this course?
Because you feel like something’s missing. Maybe you worked your way through your degree and got great grades. Maybe you did your degree and felt you could have had great grades, but you never found the classes that allowed you to be yourself. You should take this course if you feel like you have something to say or something to share. Games are about working together to build a better world. If you want to have an impact, if you want to make new things, if you want to be defined by what you make and not how well you do what you’re told, then games are for you.
Why does the game industry care about this program?
The games industry is one of the largest and fastest growing on earth. One reason industry professionals care about our program is that we worked with them to prepare people for the real world. Those who built the games industry did so on their own. Companies like Alberta’s BioWare were developed by people just like you who wanted to create something new. Now those pioneers want others to join them, which is why they are willing to help us identify and train the next generation of gaming professionals.
What can I expect in the one-week intensive?
Our games program is more like an adventure than a series of lessons. You can expect to be active rather than passive. You can expect to spend your time playing with ideas and technology that allows you to build something new. You can expect expert guides to be with you each step of the way. You can expect that you will learn by doing, rather than by listening to someone talking to you about doing. You can expect to finish with a clear understanding of your skills are, where they can take you, and what you need to develop to get where you want to go.
What skills will I learn?
Think of a superhero movie. When a group of heroes get together, they team up to integrate a diverse set of skills. Your skills develop as part of your particular strengths, but you use them in collaboration with people who bring different skills. Some focus on story and message, others on code, some on media elements, and others on workflow and professional practice. Everyone will learn the skills required to work in a game studio, but individually you will focus your time identifying and developing your unique skills and learning how to use them to achieve a shared goal.
Where will I be studying?
Your time will be spent in a game studio. Your training gives you the experience of working in a game studio. Within that environment, each student will work in their own way. Some work best while wearing headphones and focusing intensely. Others prefer to work with a team member. There is no right or wrong approach in the studio, only approaches that work best for you while you do your part to contribute to the project.
Where are the jobs in the gaming industry?
The gaming industry is global, so those working in the industry have choice. Some prefer companies with 9-to-5 schedules, others like flexible hours and conditions. Some choose to work for large, multinational companies, and others prefer small to medium-sized companies. Many in the industry form their own companies, and often people will choose to work between large, medium and small companies while also running their own companies. Our program teaches students how to live as game industry professionals so they can choose how and where to work.
When does the next course begin?
Our courses are listed here: link. Applications are accepted at any time, and we are happy to talk to you about future opportunities and what you can do to prepare. Programs are offered at times designed to make them fit busy schedules, and to align with availability of games professionals who work with us to bring you the courses. Before you start, we’ll assess your skills and suggest work you can do to prepare in advance.
When will I start working professionally?
Our programs are designed with one goal: to help people become professional game-makers. During the two years we spent designing this program all of the major companies we worked with were hiring. In an industry as large as games there are always opportunities. If you want to work at a specific company or in a particular location you may have to wait longer, but as long as you are growing your skillset you will always have opportunity. A key part of the games industry is that you chart your course. Many of our students start companies, and they work when and where they choose.
How is the course structured?
Our programs start and end with game jams. Game jams are fast-paced sessions designed to generate ideas. Many will not be familiar with game jams, and that is fine. By the time you finish, you’ll realize how much you’ve learned, and your final jam will produce work you can put in your portfolio. Your final game jam experience will involve feedback from industry professionals and the creation of a portfolio to support your career. Between game jams, we make games and use that work-experience to develop your skills.
Who is the ideal game student?
You are. There are two reasons why: First, the industry is so large they need people from all backgrounds and talent sets; and Second, the game industry operates by focusing on allowing people to be themselves. Game makers are not judged by what they wear, what they like, or where they come from…the only thing that matters is what you make. If you want to spend your time building, creating, and making, you are the ideal game student.
What grades do I need for admission?
Grades are not our focus. We base admission on your training, your portfolio, and an interview. We believe grades often miss the quality of the student. We are interested in skills, and the ability and desire to learn. We built this program for people who want to make games. We built it because we believe future game-makers are out there without training programs to support them. So, if there are no game programs, how can we trust grades to measure of your potential? We are interested in your future, not your past.
What do I do if I want to work in games?
Do you. Games training is about evaluating your skills, determining where you want to go and working toward that goal. Game-makers learn by doing. If you get excited solving puzzles, playing games, fixing things or trying to find new ways to do things, the game industry needs you. More than any other industry games cares about letting you be you and focuses on creating conditions that allow you to work in the way that is best for you.
Who will I be working for?
Yourself. Whether you start your own company, work for an indie developer or for a multinational company, the game industry operates as a network of entrepreneurs. You will learn how to make your own choices and chart your own path. Most people who work in games move between companies and projects based on what they want to do next. We’ll show you what that looks like and teach you how to develop a career where you will be working for yourself no matter where you work.
What is a portfolio?
Your portfolio is the key that unlocks the door to the game industry. A portfolio is a sample of work. It might be sound or music, stories, cartoons, paintings, drawings, digital media, business plans or content you created for social media. Portfolios are a snapshot of the work you do. If you want advice on how to put a portfolio together, let us know. During the course, we’ll work on your portfolio so that by the end of the course, your portfolio to show you how to structure it, and so you can add your newly developed skills.
What if I’m not ready?
You are ready. You might not be ready for this program, but you are ready. If you are interested in our program, we are interested in you. Contact us and we can help you figure out what you need to do to prepare. Everything you need to prepare is freely accessible and we’ll help layout a plan to upgrade your skillset. If you want to work with us, we want to work with you, so we believe you are ready now, it is just a matter of figuring out what you are ready to do at this part of your journey.
Why should I work in the game industry?
The game industry produces some of the world’s most popular art, entertainment, and sporting events. Game engines run music festivals, operate robots, and design and run machines for industry. Game engines are used to advance science and medicine and work for individuals, small groups or companies with tens of thousands of employees. Game engines are like a superpower that is available to anyone. Working in games allows you to do more and be a better version of yourself.
Who shouldn’t take this course?
We all worry whether we have what it takes to do what we want to do. Games are for everyone but working in the industry means you need to enjoy the work. Our program is designed to give you an experience of what it is like to work in the game industry. Just because you have the skills does not mean you will enjoy using them in a game studio. You have to explore that for yourself. In the meantime, here is a hint: games courses are the opposite of lecture courses. In games, you are always making something, and you collaborate with people with different skills, not groups who all study the same thing.
What is the teaching like?
Our program uses the studio or mentor model. We work with you and our feedback is based on your skills. We believe that all of us have skills, and that the only goal of education is to add new skills and develop the ones we have. When you study with us you will have a clear understanding of where your skills are and what you need to do to improve. We want you to have the information you need to follow your dreams. We can tell you what you need, and then you can choose to study with us, or to learn on your own. We don’t care how you get to your goal; we just want to help you get there.
What is professional feedback like?
The game industry runs on real-time feedback sessions giving people information they need to integrate their work. Our program mirrors this approach, making you familiar with the process before you start working in a game studio. Our industry partners also give feedback on your instructors, and our program. Everyone gets feedback because everyone wants to improve, so we work together to learn how to give and receive feedback productively.
Do I have to play games to work in games?
No. There is a big difference between making games and playing games. Lots of us play games, but many people in the game industry would much rather be making games than playing them. You don’t have to love playing games to work in games, you have to love making games or using game engines to build new things.
What is the schedule?
You can find the schedules here: link. Four themes frame our program, but your day-to-day work will be assigned in real-time depending on the project. Each time we offer a course we build projects based on the students in that group. We want to ensure the projects you work on make the most of your skills and reflect current industry practice. You will learn skills from the four theme areas based on a project designed to demonstrate, develop and highlight your skills.
What are the four themes?
We use four themes to structure our training: story, media, code and practice. These streams include multiple skillsets, but we name the streams as a way to structure our studio. The real focus is on providing you with a work-based experience reflecting the integrated nature of games work. You may work as a visual artist, storyteller, actor, marketer, manager or programmer, but we all need to learn how the game studio workflow operates and we use our four themes to frame that experience.
What if it’s too hard and I fail?
We run experiments and get results. Sometimes we need more skills or a new approach. In a game studio, and in our course, you are evaluated on what you make. Whatever happens, you get honest, real-time feedback. You always know where you stand, but we cannot do the work for you. Telling you the truth is the best thing we can do for you because the game industry is skill based. The good news is, you can always add or develop skills. We want you to succeed, but success is not determined by grades, it is determined by what you make.