With over half of Canadians playing video games on mobile devices, computers or consoles, there’s no denying their popularity. In fact, Canada ranks third in the world for developing video games (just behind the U.S. and Japan) with 472 studios in an industry that’s contributed $3.0 billion to Canada’s GDP each year.

The Certificate in Computer Game Development at the University of Alberta is helping the next generation of game developers prepare for a career in this burgeoning field. A joint venture between the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science, the program brings together students from a wide variety of disciplines to learn the art of creating video games, and who will eventually form teams to produce a short game as their final project.

The top projects from the 2016-17 term were nominated for the 9th Annual CMPUT 250 Game Awards, with winners announced at their event held on April 28, 2017. Special guests included reps from video game giant BioWare, a longtime supporter of the program with its head studio based here in Edmonton.

Game of the Year winner "Canned" by Cool Band Name Studios.

Game of the Year winner Canned by Cool Band Name Studios, with BioWare Software Developer, Sarah Beck (far right).


Associate professor Vadim Bulitko is the lead instructor in the CMPUT 250 course. “This is one of the few University of Alberta courses where undergraduate students from different disciplines come together to work on an intense team-based semester-long project,” he says. “In doing so, they get to apply their specialized skills while at the same time learning to speak the other disciplines’ language—just like in the real world, where many projects are team-based and team members have different backgrounds.”

After forming their teams, the groups got straight to work on coming up with ideas for a game. English major Shelby Carleton, lead writer for the game Panacea, spoke to Curious Arts about how they came up with the sophisticated and emotional concept for their game:

Once the concept was decided, teams had to carefully map out their entire game in a design document. Art & Design major Alex Patterson was the lead artist on the game The Tempus Hotel, and explains how they went from design doc to an actual, playable game:

More information about the Certificate in Computer Game Development and the CMPUT 250 course is available online. Also check out the full list of nominees and winners of this year’s CMPUT 250 Game Awards, including video trailers of each game.

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