Video games attract men, women, and kids like moths to a flame. Today’s adults grew up with the likes of Pac-Man, Mario, and Zelda, and witnessed the evolution of pixelated 2D shapes with limited movements into photoreal
humans with all manner of complex motion in jaw-dropping worlds. And to this day, the imagery, movements, AI, sound… just about every aspect of a game… continue to evolve no matter the platform, whether PC, console, mobile, or AR/VR/MR.
To help students, and professionals, stay on the forefront of the latest techniques and technologies in gaming, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) held the first annual SCAD GamingFest late last year at its Atlanta campus. The event was born out of the SCADFilm program, whose aim is to help area entertainment professionals elevate their careers in the entertainment arts, including gaming, animation, AR/VR, and more, through access to industry leaders and luminaries, state-of-the-art resources, private screenings, and exclusive master classes, as well as behind-the-scenes experiences. This professional engagement program follows on the heels of the school’s successful SCAD Savannah Film Festival, an eight-day event held annually in Savannah that includes competition screenings, special screenings, workshops, panels, and lectures.
“As the gaming industry continues to grow and thrive in Georgia, SCAD recognizes it has a critical role in preparing and developing the next generation of talent to work in this exciting industry,” says Leigh Seaman, senior executive director of SCADFilm.
I was invited as a guest to the event and was impressed with the talent level of the presenters and the enthusiasm of the attendees. The two-day event covered various types of gaming (from Triple-A titles to mobile apps) as well as the various job functions involved in creating a game – from 3D imagery, to story editing, to sound design and voiceovers. While my interest has always centered on the imagery, the festival offered me a glimpse at these other areas from experts in their fields: Cartoon Network, EA Sports, Google Daydream, and others. In fact, the team from EA Sports’ Madden NFL made a rare public appearance to detail the evolution of “story” in their sports titles and how those achievements have led to the game’s first story mode, Longshot.
As Seaman points out, the targeted audience for GamingFest, as with all SCADFilm offerings, includes students and alumni, as well as area and industry professionals. “SCAD works to develop a festival schedule that offers professional enrichment opportunities that will benefit attendees at any stage in their careers,” she says.
Admission to the event was complimentary for SCAD students, alumni, faculty, and staff. And students in related fields, such as animation, interactive design and game development, motion media, television producing, and VFX, were encouraged to attend. “Our goal was for all attendees to leave feeling not only educated, but also inspired,” says Seaman. “The festival provided the chance for students to gain a competitive edge by expanding their personal connections, learn about new technologies, and explore trends in the industry.”
Pleased with the reception and success of the event, SCAD is already planning next year’s event, expanding on the workshops, panels, and master classes. It’s an event worth attending, whether you are a student or a professional.