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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

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What is Game Design and Development?

Games are a form of communication through playful experiences.

Game designers are artists who plan and create games for players.

Game developers are engineers who build, refine and prepare games for distribution.

In the past twenty years, games have evolved into much more than things that amuse and entertain us. Game designers communicate ideas, beliefs, and values through the design of analog, digital, and live-action experiences.

Through play, today’s designers can explore social, cultural, and environmental issues while innovating on and challenging the conventions and assumptions embedded in existing games.

Such designers exhibit a diverse skillset, drawing on their creativity and critical thinking as they work individually and collaboratively with various tools, technologies, and stakeholders to develop a game from concept to end product.

The next generation of game designers will use gameplay to push the medium forward, exploring, expanding, and innovating how games engage players, share experiences, and transform lives.

At Laurier, we are focused on educating that next generation.

Game Design and Development at Laurier

Situated in the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, our Bachelor of Fine and Applied Arts (BFAA) emphasizes game design as a means of communication through playful experiences.

Students in the program begin by learning how designers make and communicate meaning through games, with courses in critical play, games as art, and meaningful interactions. They then apply those skills to the design and development of games that purposefully communicate ideas, beliefs, and values in a variety of areas—including analog, digital, and live-action game design. Our senior capstone course allows students to explore and articulate their own ideas in a long-form project, where they create games that ask meaningful questions—questions about games, play, and society.

Going Beyond: Experiential Learning Opportunities and Specializations

Students wishing to go beyond coursework have several experiential learning opportunities. The faculty at Laurier hire students to work on research project with real-world applications. Here are some examples:

  • Teams of game design students worked with faculty and project managers to design escape rooms for museums. One game explored archeological concepts for a dinosaur museum in Alberta and another brought pieces of art to life for an art museum in Zurich. The Laurier team created prototypes and a design document that the museums could use in building the games.
  • Working in collaboration with the Canadian Public Health Association and faculty, a team of game design students designed and developed analog and digital versions of a professional training game around sexual health and stigma. The games will be deployed in professional workshops to create an informed discussion on equitable access to sexual health services in light of gender, race, and sexual orientation.
  • Working in collaboration with the Laurier Career Centre on a one-of-a-kind student designed educational mobile app. This competency app is meant as a tool to assist Laurier graduating students to meaningfully reflect on their acquired skills at the university.
  • Worked with Laurier Orientation week staff over the course of a summer to create a week-long series of team-based adventures designed for 5000 incoming Golden Hawks to play online.
  • A team of game design students work with faculty on a serious games research study funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) exploring autobiographical game design as a sense-making tool for youth living with an opioid addiction. This project examines the practice of making games as a modality for building community health, and as a tool for fighting the stigma and social isolation surrounding substance use.

"Scott Nicholson is the greatest professor. He is always available to help with his courses and assist you on side-projects. Classes with him are always engaging and fun, never a boring class."

– Gregory Edgar (BA '21)

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