By: Stephen Sedgwick-Williams

From left, Jodi Tilley, Tilan Gunawardena, Dushan Horvat, game development program coordinators, front Adam Crawley, game development graduate and a programmer for Ubisoft Montreal.

As the school year draws to a close, first-year game development students got a chance to ask questions to a Montreal-based alumni of their program currently working in the video game industry during an orientation on March 22.

The end-of-year orientation was intended to introduce students to a number of important people both in the program and in the college in general, talk to the Peer Assistants, get an idea of what is to come in the next two years and ask any general questions they might have.

In addition, Adam Crawley, a graduate of the program and a programmer at Ubisoft’s Montreal studio, gave a speech and answered questions for the game design program.

Bringing in someone that has gone through the same program and who has experience in the industry allows students to ask questions about the industry, something that the program coordinators were excited about.

Crawley gave a presentation on his experience in both the program and industry to give students an idea of what to expect in the coming years, then took questions for any other concerns the students may have.

One of the topics at the orientation was making sure that the game design students reviewed what they had learned over the summer, so they would remember.

“A lot of students, they usually go off into the summer and forget everything, they have four months off,” said Tilan Gunawardena, first-year coordinator for the program. “They need to know that this summer they still have to go over what they’ve done in their first year in order to succeed in their second year.”

Crawley also emphasized the importance for game design students to use their summers in order to further their abilities, and using that free time to create other projects.

“Side projects are really important,” said Crawley. “You need to be able to show them that you can do impressive things. They don’t want to hire someone just because they have a degree or diploma. They want to be able to actually see, ‘Oh this guy is actually really good.’”

Dushan Horvat, another program coordinator, believes that learning about what it’s like in the industry will also help students with their expectations, and provide them with knowledge on how to succeed in interviews and be prepared for the work environment.

According to Horvat, a lot of the students are more concerned with how they will get jobs as opposed to what happens while you’re working at a company.

He believes that knowing what happens at a job will help students be more prepared for the position itself and aid them in job interviews.

Ultimately, the advice Crawley had for the students was to make good use of their summers as he placed emphasis on how important creating side projects with the four months of free time students had.

“I asked my lead programmer, where I work, if he had any advice he would like to pass along to the college students I’m speaking to today,” he said. “Immediately he said, ‘side projects.’”