A career in video games is not pursued by many, but for Maggie Nakaska-Adolf, a Game Development and Design student at the Visual College of Art and Design of Vancouver (VCAD), it is the correct career path for her.
“I have always loved playing video games and being on the computer since I was very little,” enthuses Nakaska-Adolf.
She also enjoys watching movies with CGI (computer generated imagery) animation and effects like those in Marvel movies and the Harry Potter series.
“When I realised that I could pursue these interests as a career and learn to do all these things that I always thought were really cool, I knew that this would be the correct career path for me.”
Nakaska-Adolf was thankful that her family and friends were all supportive of her career choice.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I am very artistic and that I know my way around a computer and that I also really like video games as well,” no one was all that surprised when she told them about her career path that she will be taking.
“They thought it would be a great idea for me to pursue as it is something I am very passionate about.”
One of the biggest changes Nakaska-Adolf had to make was to move from small-town Trochu, Alta., to the big city of Vancouver.
“I had no problem moving away from home as I was already very independent.”
She had to learn to live with a roommate, how to budget, and how to get around without a vehicle by using city transit.
To Karen Nakaska, an English teacher and mother to Nakaska-Adolf, the career choice was no surprise.
Maggie Nakaska-Adolf grew up playing video games with her father, being read to, and creating imaginative worlds with her writing and drawings, said Karen Nakaska.
“I am thrilled that she is able to pursue a career that is so ideally suited to her talents,” she smiles.
Nakaska said that gaming has the potential to make as big an impact in the educational field as it has made in the entertainment industry.
“I’m excited for Maggie to be a part of this enterprise.”
Nakaska admits that it is hard having her daughter live in another province, but with modern technology it does shrink the distance between them.
Many of her classes at VCAD are focused around the art and design aspect of game development, explains Nakaska-Adolf. She gets to learn how to use the industries standard software such as Photoshop, Maya, and Unreal Engine. In her classes they also learn about the fundamentals of good design and artistic elements such as drawing and modeling.
“My favourite class so far is environmental modeling because you have the freedom to create anything you want,” confesses Nakaska-Adolf.
“Modeling in general is just fun.
“There are many aspects that go into creating a fully functional game.”
Game designers and developers are often skilled at many different things such as coming up with concepts and ideas for the game, creating art and assets, 3D modeling characters and environments, rigging models so that the animators can animate them, animating the models, creating the sound and music for the game, and much more, explains Nakaska-Adolf.
An employment option for Nakaska-Adolf is to work in a game development studio. There are studios located around the world that are always looking for people to fill their required position.
Some studios are small and consist of a small employment staff of up to 50 people, these studios are often called indie studios and they develop smaller games, usually for personal computers or mobile devices. In those smaller studios, a single person may be required to fill multiple roles in the game making process.
There are also larger studios such as EA Games and Bethesda that employ hundreds to thousands of people as their games and projects are on a much larger scale and require more time and manpower to make.
In bigger studios, a single person will be specialised for a specific role, and the staff is typically divided into different teams, such as animators, modellers, and texture artists.
Stephanie Ng, a classmate of Nakaska-Adolf, was also brought to this program with having a career interest in video games and wanting to learn a variety of skills to become a technical artist.
“[Nakaska-Adolf] does excellent work with every assignment given,” exclaims Ng.
“I believe Maggie fits well in this program, she’s a quick learner and attentive to each lesson.”
Ng says that Nakaska-Adolf usually finishes her projects and assignments ahead of the deadline to give herself time to improve her work.
“Maggie is a reliable classmate and can provide a quick summary of the previous lecture, especially if I am away from class.”
The Game Development and Design program at VCAD is a four-year course that is condensed into two years, because of this, Nakaska-Adolf attends school all year around. Each term lasts three months, with four terms in a year.
When Nakaska-Adolf graduates in Oct. 2018, she will be receiving a diploma in Game Development and Design.
After she graduates, she will either want to get a job with a studio in Vancouver, or she will try to start up her own indie development studio and make her own games.