Choose your character, from left to right: Zack Harris, Dante Camarena, Ian Nastajus, Jordan Sparks. PHOTO: Jess Tsang

Level up! Game design courses coming to Rye

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By Daniel Rosen

The Ryerson Game Makers’ Union (GMU) could be getting educational backup from a game design program coming to the university.

Ryerson’s computer science department is putting together an application for a game design program to present to the Senate. It could take at least two years before becoming a full program.

While it’s too early to know details of the program, computer science professor Alireza Sadeghian said the Faculty of Communication and Design with the computer science department have looked into creating a program, but still have a ways to go.

“The letter of intent hasn’t been published, which is the first step for this project,” said Sadeghian.

The GMU develops games from the ground up, uniting programmers of all skill levels. As the only home for game design on campus, the GMU is hopeful for a program to call home and boost membership.

“I’d hope that maybe we can establish some connections with the program,” said GMU president Ian Nastajus. “It’d be great if we were able to provide some insight and guidance to the computer science department on the program as well.”

Last year, external vice-president Jordan Sparks organized Checkpoint, an event where he invited local game designers to speak to Ryerson students – most of them have now become regulars.

For GMU development lead Dante Camarena, it isn’t just about making games, it’s about the future.

“Games are an emerging medium… leaking into other activities,” Camarena said. “Having a game you can put in your portfolio or on your website that shows your ability is a good thing to have.” This year, the club will launch a learning initiative focused on talks from industry experts.

“We’re in the process of speaking to people from companies like Ubisoft and Rockstar,” said Nastajus.

“They’ll come in, go around and help people when they get stuck.” Zack Harris, internal vice-president, also sees GMU’s future in helping people break into the industry.

“The club is turning into a portal for people who are new to come and get advice from someone in the industry,” said Harris. “We’re trying to bridge the gap between people paid to make games and the people who want to try.”

Without a program to call home, the club has had trouble growing. But to external vice-president Jordan Spark, it’s a challenge they’ve managed to overcome.

“Since Ryerson doesn’t have a game design program it lacks a game design community by default, so we had to grow it ourselves,” said Sparks. “With all the people coming in for our events and workshops, we’ve proven that there’s a big interest in games here, but there’s no backing from the university yet.”


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