Conestoga news

May 15, 2024 3:14 PM

Inaugural Girls in Gaming event introduced youth to game art and design

Conestoga’s first Girls in Gaming event gave girls and non-binary youth the chance to try game art and design.

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Girls and non-binary youth had the chance to learn about game art and design at the inaugural Girls in Gaming event at the Waterloo campus.

The School of Creative Industries, the School of Applied Computer Science & Information Technology, and the Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab (VARLab) and Esports Hub hosted the free event for Grades 7 to 10 students on May 11 at the Waterloo campus.

During the hands-on workshop, participants learned about the elements of game design and took home a copy of what they created and additional resources to continue exploring the world of gaming. Afterwards there was an optional drop-in at the Esports Hub.

Girls in Gaming was created to introduce more women to college programs that are traditionally male-dominated knowing representation is important to creating meaningful stories and games, said Professor Kim Nutter.

“My hope is that Girls in Gaming can show the different facets of game development to young girls, empower them with the opportunity to explore skills used in the industry in a safe and inclusive environment and ultimately show them a path towards a career where they can add their voice and story to create richer, more diverse experiences,” Nutter said.

The event wasn’t just inspiring for the participants.

“These girls were ready to jump into every part of development, including pixel art, level design, and even programming. I am hopeful that seeing the game development pipeline will peak their interest to pursue a career in games. Seeing their smiles of accomplishment after the event was so rewarding.”

The plan is to host more events in the future to introduce more girls and non-binary youth to game design.

The morning started with the participants trying a free website for making pixel art, first playing around with shapes and colours before creating a “collectible” like a coin for their game. Collectibles are content that’s not essential to progress through a game but adds fun or interest.

“A lot of pixel art is just experimenting,” Maja Meeser told the participants while walking them through the basics of creating images out of squares.

Meeser graduated from the Game - Design program in 2023, and is keen to see more women joining the field of gaming. For Meeser, it’s another avenue of art and a creative outlet with “more freedom, more experimentation.”

Along with Meeser, the other instructors were Mary Ellen Daniels, Anzhelika Kostyuk, Carolina Naoum Junqueria and Leo Bunting.

Once the participants wrapped up playing with pixels, their unique images were imported into a gaming platform to become part of the simple game they learned how to make.

Maggie Edwards heard about Girls in Gaming in her Grade 9 class. How to create a video game is entirely new to her, and she also braved her first time on a campus to see what it was all about.

“It’s a topic I’m interested in and it sounded like a good opportunity,” Edwards said.

Grade 7 student Harini Arunkumar has an interest in art in general, mostly creating digital art. She’d tried some coding before, but pixel art was something new to experiment with.

“I thought this would be a new opportunity,” Arunkumar said. “I like it. I think it could take me far.”

Conestoga’s School of Creative Industries offers dynamic programs spanning all aspects of media, communication and design. Career options include game designer, interactive designer, podcaster, community relations specialist, e-retail visual designer, interior decorator, multimedia editor, camera operator, 3D animator, graphic designer, media coordinator, social media analyst, motion graphics artist, and event marketing specialist.