The UCI Video Game Development Club (VGDC) is a student organization that focuses on the creation of games through student led projects. Throughout the year, officers of the club divide members into teams. Each team creates a game that will satisfy the conditions and criteria. The process requires more than a knack for programming. Also involved are the artists, composers, and writers who give the lines of code character and depth to envelop the player in a world of their own.
Jordan Rodriguez, the current writing director of VGDC, talks about taking part in game development while being an English major:
There are people that love aspects of video games that don’t know programming and because they don’t know it, they think, “Okay, I can’t possibly be a video game developer because programming is a huge portion of a video game.” So, I sort of have that thing too, but then I started getting involved.
Although he’s an English major, Jordan is pursing a career in the gaming industry. Originally he was majoring in game computer science and switched after finding that he was more invested in writing stories rather than technical aspects of coding.
How does an English major fit in a field grounded in computer science?
I’m passionate about it. I came in thinking that I don’t have the skills to do the technical aspect but surely there’s something I can do. And you know, there is something I can do! Beyond just writing, being in the game lab and being a part of these teams, you pick up aspects of game design. And I can’t say that I know programming, but I’m starting to pick up on the language and in a broad idea how the code is structured and how it works. Now as a writer I can communicate with people who program as a writer and get my point across.
VGDC aims to assist any student with a passion for games to become familiar with the industry regardless of their field of study. Being a part of VGDC provides unique opportunities for their members such as taking their members to gaming companies like Blizzard Entertainment for an inside look at the work environment of professional game developers. The club hosted an event featuring Tim Ford, creative director of Blizzard Entertainment’s game Overwatch, where he spoke to its members about the industry. Members also gain some industry insights from other members with internships or jobs at gaming companies who bring their experiences back and implement them into club projects.
VGDC has much to offer, and Jordan brings his expertise to the club as well. As a writing director, Jordan leads workshops aimed to assist members in shaping narratives for their games. He also spends a lot of time in the game development lab during his downtime where he offers advice and input to any students that ask.
So while game development requires knowledge of computer science, the gaming industry is open to anyone with the passion and drive like Jordan who concludes:
I think that we have to change the perception of who can be a game developer; people who aren’t just programmers can be game developers like me.