Submitted by MNO citizen Gilles Boucher with information from

Game -design -challenge -trophies
The trophies made on a 3D printer for the Sudbury Game
Design Challenge. (Erik White/CBC) Click here for larger

On February 3, 2017, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen Joel Boucher and his team, the Platypus Paradox, won the Sudbury Game Design Challenge. Joel’s team and their competitors are all currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Computer Science Program at Laurentian University. Joel specializes in video game design and received funding to support his education through the MNO Education and Training Branch.

The challenge required that each team develop a Northern Ontario theme video game. Joel’s team created a game that is a top-down 2D puzzle game where players control two characters at the same time using the thumb sticks on a controller. One character can launch a projectile to activate switches and interact with the environment and the other character can create a shield to block incoming projectiles. “It is a tough concept to get used to at a first glance but it’s extremely fun to play. Trying to train your mind to do two things at once, or at least think of ways to solve puzzles while using both characters at the same time is the ultimate challenge during this game,” Joel said.

Also as part of the program, Joel is required to take game design courses. The students learn about all the different aspects of game creation as well as topics such as immersion, controversy and violence in games. They are also required to create a basic game for the class project. This gives them a hands-on approach using what they have learned in class.

The game design competition relates to what the students learned in school because it puts them in a scenario where they need to build a product in only 48 hours. They need to take a given theme and think of the most important key aspects that will make a product relate to the theme. The knowledge and hands on experience gained from these game design classes provide an understanding of how these games are created. It is very important to understand how to structure a game in competitions.

“If you don’t understand how the mechanics or systems interact with each other, then it will ultimately fail,” Joel said.