Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson Game Development Club: A Great Community for Aspiring Developers

Photo courtesy of EGDC Image Gallery

Game development is often assumed to be an intense coding job in an industry riddled with crunch time and math. However, the Emerson Game Development Club (EGDC) at Emerson proves that it’s an industry for artists, too. 

Animators and writers interested in working on video games can find their way to the EGDC, a laid-back community of Emerson nerds finding their voice in early attempts at game design. While there is the occasional experienced coder, the club is designed to bring accessible design software to aspiring developers and slowly build their skills in a collaborative space. 

Every academic year is kicked off with a game jam called “Twine-a-thon,” where students use the program Twine to make short games and familiarize themselves with the development process. Game jams are timed collaborative events where students can get published games under their belts. Shipping is the industry term for having worked on a published game. The more games you’ve shipped, the more jobs you’ll find.

This year, students shipped nine simple choose-your-own-adventure style games over the week, with titles like “Broken Dawn” and “Emerson College Simulator.” Twine-a-thon is the only Emerson-exclusive game jam that EGDC hosts, as it frequently collaborates with other colleges and universities throughout Boston. 

Their most recent game jam was Jam-O-lantern, a Halloween-themed jam sponsored by Northeastern University Game Development Club that ended on Nov. 3rd. This jam had 26 submissions compared to our Twine-a-thon’s nine. The software used was also much more sophisticated. One submission was a demo for “Pediophobia,” a 3-D survival horror game by Oliver Carrico on Unreal Engine.

Game jams come in a lot of different forms. Often, they will be seasonal, or at least annual. Some, like Wentworth Game Development Club’s Spring 2023 Game Jam, even have a cash prize for the best-shipped game.

In addition to on-campus events, EGDC offers members unique abilities to pursue a future career in game development.

“It isn’t just our weekly meetings,” Co-President Hayden said. “It’s a hub for students to develop their skills and find opportunities in the industry.” 

The club’s Discord server features a bot from Work With Indies that constantly tracks job openings in game development. Concept art and narrative design positions at companies like Hinterland Games are posted almost daily. 

Since Work With Indies isn’t affiliated with Emerson College, there is no data tracking how many fellow students find their careers here. Still, it’s a great entry point to dodge the demanding and underpaid positions at Triple-A developing companies.

Opportunities to work on Emerson projects are also posted, and there are usually upcoming events to have more personal looks into development. Just last Wednesday, EGDC held a talk with Narrative Designer and Emerson graduate Geoffrey Golden ‘05 about moving into the industry from college. 

“The best thing to do during college is to get games shipped through game jams,” he told students. 

Even with all these opportunities, EGDC ensures students aren’t overwhelmed. They maintain a welcoming environment where students can just sit back and talk about games at their general meetings. The meetings—held every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in room 231 of the Walker building—feature an introduction to “Gamer News.” Two weeks ago, a general meeting started with a quick slideshow about the recent layoffs at Bungie, which followed Sony’s 2022 acquisition of the company and continued a decline in the reputation of their flagship game, “Destiny 2.” 

Following the news portion, meetings move on to either lessons about common elements and software in game design or a laid-back hour of games like Jackbox party packs. If you’ve been a part of indie game communities, coming to an EGDC meeting is like walking into an old friend’s house and just starting to riff, with the added awkwardness of straddling the line of school-appropriate humor. Whether you’re seriously considering a career in game development or just want to test the limits of what you can say on Quiplash for a night, EGDC can connect you to like-minded students in Boston’s indie developer community.

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