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CSUF Club Spotlight | Video Game Development Club

by madisonmeehan
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The Video Game Development Club is a student organization composed primarily of programmers, artists, designers, and composers interested in pursuing a career in the multimedia and video game industry. The club provides members an opportunity to produce interactive video games with other students who share their passion for video game development. Through weekly meetings and special events, members gain the tools necessary to prepare for employment in an increasingly competitive industry. Throughout the school year members attend workshops, game development competitions, studio tours, professional panel discussions, and the annual Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. By the time they graduate, members have already had the experience of developing multiple video games either as solo projects or on a team. Members are encouraged to create portfolios highlighting the work that they can present to potential employers. Members are also provided many opportunities to meet with industry employers by attending weekly video game industry networking events as well as monthly events hosted by the International Game Developers Association. The club is often contacted with internship opportunities that are posted online for interested members. The Video Game Development Club gives students the skills required to compete in the current job market and prepares them to be successful in their careers.

We sat down with the President, Manny, and Vice President, Margerite, to answer some FAQ’s.

How did you hear about the VGDC?

Manny: I heard about VGDC through one of my first discoverfest here at CSUF.
Margerite: I have a funny story about this actually. I joined the first semester of my freshman year. As such I was completely new to the school and by extension, it’s wifi. When I went for orientation initially it didn’t let me into the network, even though I put in the correct password. A few hours later, I tried it again and it let me in.
When I moved into the dorms the same problem occurred with my laptop. It was discoverfest at the time, and on my way to class I saw a sign for the university tech help booth. After class I got my laptop and went looking for said booth. I looked at the map showing all the clubs and their locations and noticed there was a video game development club. Originally I only planned to join the Pencil Mileage Club, but I thought VGDC looked interesting so I went by the booth and got a flier for the first meeting.
When subsequently arriving at the tech help booth, I explained my problem and handed over my laptop. They looked at it for all of two seconds and handed it back to me. My wifi problem having mysteriously solved itself. In that moment, I remember thinking, “Oh, this is going to be significant somehow.”

What made you want to join the VGDC?

Manny: I wanted to join VGDC cause i always wanted to work with games. Games were always a part of me growing up whether they be simple or had a fun story to tell and it was always engaging and wanted to learn to give that level of fun to others.
Margerite: I originally joined just because it looked interesting. I was never very much into games and never really considered making any before. But I wanted to try something new and it seemed like I’d be able to put my artistic skills to use. Additionally, completed projects look great on resumes, and mine looked pretty sparse, but that was definitely secondary.
In what ways did being involved in the VGDC challenge you?
Manny: Being involved with VGDC challenged me in just relearning how to time manage and also approaching things in a different light in order to better work with a group
Margerite: At its core, game dev is a group project. Given my previous experiences with group projects in highschool, I assumed it was going to be stressful and a bit of a mess. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered how different the experience is when its with people who want to be there. Working on game projects in VGDC challenged me in how to effectively work with people and create work that would fill the requirements of the project. The first environment I ever drew was for this club and I forced myself to learn because the project needed it, and no one else knew how. I was forced out of my comfort zone quite often to work with genres and subjects that I normally would never have touched. I think it made me much more well-rounded as an artist and improved my ability to fulfill client requests.

Why is the VGDC so meaningful to you?

Manny: VGDC is very meaningful to me cause it’s where I got to meet a lot of my current friends and be able to express some level of creativity and be able to collaborate with many wonderful people of different talents to make something that everyone can enjoy.
Margerite: VGDC is meaningful to me in the way it taught me the joy of working with others. Before joining, I wanted to do everything on my own and dreaded the mention of a group project. But through my experiences here, I discovered how satisfying it is to make something that you never could by yourself. How multiple people working together to mold a project improves it in so many ways. Unquestionably a significant skill to have and I’m really glad I learned it.

What is the most significant moment you’ve had in the VGDC?

Manny: I think the most significant moment I had in VGDC was when I was working on my second game with the club and just getting hit with a feeling sense of community and belonging and just being happy to work with others on cool things.
Margerite: I can’t say there is one specific moment that stands out as more significant than the others. But more generally when I led my first game project, I was working with a composer to create some scores for the game. I had a very strong idea of what I wanted, and that experience of trying to translate my specific thoughts to another person and into a medium that I did not understand really opened my eyes. How things that were obvious for me didn’t register to another, and having to pick my brain to figure out how to convey them. The score turned out great, better than anything I could have imagined. I love listening to those tracks and seeing the result of how I grew.

Do you feel like you are a different person today because of the club?

Manny: Oh I definitely feel like a different person, I’m much better at communicating with others, working in a team and collaborating on ideas as well as better with adjusting to roadblocks in work.
Margerite: Absolutely. It changed my career path, gave me a new passion, and helped me develop so many skills. I am much more prepared now to work professionally and as an adult in general.

What are the top three skills you have learned in the VGDC?

Manny: I think my top 3 skills learned is, delegating work with others/providing and receiving feedback/adapting to different issues that are out of my control and still being able to produce something that works.
Margerite: Definitely communication, both with team members and in general, adapting my work to subjects I am not well versed in, and how to make tight deadlines.

How has this experience impacted the decisions you make today?

Manny: It honestly made me so much better with stepping out of my comfort zones and just be more open to new ideas. It definitely helped me become better team worker, and made me realize how more capable I am and let me be more willing to take risks and accept failure and better learn from mistakes.
Margerite: I’d say just in general I’m more willing to work with and assist other people. I take risks in my art that I wouldn’t before, because I know I have the capability to pull it off if I try hard enough.

What would you say to others that are interested in joining the club?

Manny: If you want get more involved in making projects and improving on skills you can definitely join.
Margerite: If nothing else, game projects look great on a resume. Employers love finished projects because it shows that you have the capability to see it to the end. Finishing something is infinitely more difficult than starting it. Game projects with the club are a fun and easy way to get those projects and showcase your work. Even if you know nothing about game dev or aren’t a big gamer, the club is here to support and teach you the whole way. We hold workshops and speaker events as well, why not learn a new skill or gain a greater understanding of how to succeed as a working professional? All majors are welcome, regardless of your skill level.
You may have reservations about working in a group with unfamiliar people, but it is so rewarding at the end of the day to look at your game, no matter how small it is, with the realization that you made that.

Name the top three lessons you have learned from the VGDC.

Margerite: Working with others can be fun! Not every group is full of irresponsible slackers with an agenda to do the least amount of work possible. I promise!
Not everyone sees the world the way you do. It’s surprising how many preconceptions that you thought were universal turn out to be heavily biased by your personal knowledge and experience.
It’s okay to fail. Sometimes game projects just don’t work out; the idea is too grand for the timescale, problems can’t be solved, life happens. You have to fail a few times to improve, you just need to be able to learn from the experience and bounce back. It’s okay for some things not to turn out the best it could possibly be. Taking care of yourself is more important. Failure in school and work has heavy consequences, but despite that it’s not the end of the world. You have the ability to recover and come back more capable than before.

If you’re interested in joining VGDC, contact [email protected].

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