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New club unites video game enthusiasts

Gabriela Roznawska
The Video Game Development Club has started meeting and making games.

The Video Game Development Club is one of the newest additions to the College’s student organizations list. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday, club members gather in room N2110 of the Humanities and Social Studies Centre (HSSC) to play, discuss and make games.  

When Michael (Mikey) O’Connor `24, Oscar Scherer `24 and Chloe Kelly `26 met for the first time at GrinTECH 2022, they discovered that they were all working on game development projects. O’Connor proposed the three could combine heads on one game, marking the beginnings of a team that would soon grow into a full-fledged club. O’Connor, club treasurer, and Scherer, club president, are the co-founders. Kelly, along with Scherer’s friend Patrick Sales Garcia `25, rounded out the club’s leadership team.  

“As a CS [computer science] student who is very interested in game development,” said Scherer, “Grinnell doesn’t have anything related to graphics, images, stuff like that … I thought it’d be cool to get people together like we did at GrinTECH.” 

While the leaders aim to create a space where budding video game developers can befriend and collaborate with each other, O’Connor and Scherer said that is not their only goal. More importantly, they want to promote video game development to a wider audience. All the leaders of the club are either declared or intended computer science majors, as are the majority of current attendees. 

“One thing that we’d really like to get in our club is [new members] … with creativity and a vision,” said Scherer, adding that the club would welcome people even if they had no technical background. Acknowledging that it could be daunting at first, he pointed out that many games did not require intensive coding. For him, a game can only be developed if there are ideas and visions, something he thinks the club can benefit more from.  

To that end, Scherer said the first half of the weekly meetings begin with deciding on a game that club members can play together. These games facilitate the exploration of both the technical side and the more-creative side of game design like worldbuilding and art direction. Scherer said the game development process would be much smoother if it included people with varied skill sets and aggregated different fields of study like writing, art or even physics. 

“We let people play something that we think might make them go, ‘Oh, that’s doable. That’s not that complicated.’” Scherer said this structure invites members to play video games and appreciate the work of the developers, while also reflecting on how they could go about making those games and then trying it out themselves.  

In the second half of the meeting, students can ask the leaders questions related to game development – anything from coding and modelling to importing files from Blender. “We can give some starting points, and if we know how to do it already, we can give more direct support,” said Scherer.  

O’Connor also stressed the need for teamwork in game development. “You’re not going to be good at everything … people who are really good at art and aren’t necessarily good at coding can still make a project with other people who are really good at coding and not so good at art.” As such, leaders plan to organize club attendees into teams to encourage collaboration in the weekly meetings.  

“We’re hoping that as the club goes on, people get a bit more experience or familiarize themselves with a group environment and getting help.” Scherer said. 

Scherer said the leaders want to get the club involved in game jams — events in which participants must make an original game from scratch within a stipulated time frame — either by traveling to them or by organizing their own at the College. “A lot of interesting games started as a game jam idea,” O’Connor said. “We want to cultivate as many ideas as possible.” 

O’Connor said that it felt exciting to be in such an intentional community. “Maybe at the end of the year, we have like four games that our club has made, and they’re all solid,” he said. “With this sort of intensive process, at the end there’s something there you can actually be proud of. That’s really cool.” 

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About the Contributors
Natalie Ng, Staff Writer
Natalie is a first-year intended anthropology major from Singapore. When she's not camping at the HSSC, she's getting killed in Nerf @ Noyce, planning an afternoon nap (that never happens), or assembling a makeshift drum pad out of textbooks. She possesses an arsenal of indigestion medication.
Gabriela Roznawska, Graphic Designer
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