Game Design Guild aims to further students’ tech abilities

Marshall University’s Game Design Guild assists computer and information technology majors and offer an atmosphere similar to professional workplaces in the members’ future fields. Members also work on designing and programming their own video game projects as a way to practice for post-graduation careers.

“The goal of the club is for people to practice their game development, to improve their game development skills through practice,” said Timm Johnson, president of the guild and computer and information technology major

When producing their video games, members break off into groups of programmers, writers, visual artists, sound designers and level designers. This helps them discover what skills they possess and can specialize in, Johnson said.

“Hopefully in the guild we can help people figure out what their specialization is, because it’s easier to get a job when you have one specialized thing that you’re really good at,” Johnson said.

Archie Petin, sophomore computer and information technology major, recently joined the guild and said it is a learning process as well as a great way to build experience by working together.

“I just wanted to get some experience,” Petin said. “I’m just there to learn, but we’re also altogether designers. I think we’re just going to try to do as many products as we can but make them good.”

At the beginning of the semester, the guild had a “card jam” exercise in which members worked in teams to come up with original card games and type up the rules in a Word document. Other teams then had to decipher how to successfully play the game.

“With the Word document, there were a lot of made up rules that didn’t quite make sense, but that’s part of game design, figuring out what’s wrong and reiterating on it to improve it,” Johnson said.

The guild focuses on experimenting with smaller projects, because they can be less overwhelming, Johnson said.

“It’s very tempting to pick up a bigger project and have all these ideas and put so much stuff on your plate that you’ll never actually be able to finish it,” Johnson said. “One of the things that I’m trying to teach the members whenever it comes up is how to scope things properly. Like with any project, you don’t want to make a plan that’s so big you’ll never actually be able to complete the project. It’s a lot better to come up with a few ideas and make a game that works and then improve on that to make it more fun.”

The guild was formed last spring semester, and it meets at 5 p.m. in Room 1104 in the Engineering Building on Mondays. Petin said the guild requires zero experience. Johnson said he would love to see it grow in number, and any major is welcome.

“If you’re interested in art, information, writing or music or sound don’t be afraid to come into the guild,” Johnson said. “Making a game requires all that different stuff; it doesn’t work out so well if we’re all programmers. If you’re interested in making games and you actually want to try it out, then the guild is a good place to come and try it out.”

Amanda Larch can be contacted at [email protected]