Becker student holds game development webinars
Published on: September 14, 2020
Becker College senior Jacob Siegel had planned to spend the summer of 2020 working as an intern. But when the global pandemic changed those plans, the game design major decided to put his time into teaching others about his chosen field.
“Because of what happened with COVID, my summer internship was cancelled,” Siegel said. “So I reached out to Monty Sharma of MassDiGI and pitched an idea.”
Siegel suggested putting together a series of summer webinars—a project that he called the Game Dev Explorer program—with the goal of giving students an insider look at the game industry.
Sharma, managing director of MassDiGI (The Massachusetts Digital Games Institute College), approved the idea.
“The community we are most interested in right now are high school and college students who are interested in game design,” Sharma said.
“We wanted to give high school and college students the opportunities that they couldn’t get this summer due to COVID,” Siegel said.
Siegel worked with interns from all around the world, who were participating in the MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program (SIP), as well as with SIP alumni. He also contacted recent Becker College graduates and local leaders in game design. In the end, he put together a series of 6 free live-streamed webinars, on topics ranging from how to build a game to how COVID has affected the game industry. It wasn’t easy, but it was rewarding.
“I learned from this whole program,” he explained. “Every misstep helped me learn and be better.”
Looking back, Siegel noted some of the challenges he faced.
“At the very beginning, we weren’t advertising on Facebook or Twitter. I didn’t even have an operational website to post all of our materials. I had no budget,” he recalled. “So I ended up building the entire program from the ground up. Luckily, I was able to work with the Games Guild and have a section page to post things up on their site.”
The Games Guild is a student run publication company whose goal is to give students an opportunity to publish and market real games to the real world. But, as Siegel said, finding someplace to post his webinars wasn’t the only challenge.
“I had to make the website work. I had to learn ads analytics. I had to do a marketing pitch in order to get a budget,” he said. “It was a lot of work, but it all paid off in the end.”
Siegel proposed his marketing plan for the Game Dev Explorer program to Tim Loew, executive director of MassDiGI, who provided him with a small stipend.
“I could spend it on advertisements however I wished,” Siegel said. “That allowed me to reach more individuals through social media ads.”
Siegel took the opportunity to reach out to area high schools, colleges, the Boy Scouts, and other organizations.
For the first webinar, Siegel wanted to test the waters, just to see how many people were interested. Interns from the SIP hosted the live stream, which he called “Draw This Your Style.”
“We ran an art stream where we had some of our friends came over, with varying art skills. Some of them were designers, artists, programmers, producers. They all drew whatever the audience asked them to,” Siegel explained. “We had some really amazing feedback. Everyone that came said that they loved it and they wanted to see more.”
For his second webinar, also hosted by the SIP interns, the focus was on how to build a game. The interns explained the basics of building a game using a Power Point presentation, and answered questions submitted from the participants.
“We wanted to give people the best honest feedback and knowledge we could from the things we know as college students,” Siegel said.
A third webinar focused on “Designing and Developing a Mobile Stealth Game.” SIP interns explained how they creating their game “Raccoon Revenge,” which will be released later this year.
“Our next one was about juice,” Siegel said. “Juicing is when you take a game that works, fundamentally, but then add visual and audio to make it pop and come alive. You can add happy noises, or little wiggles with text or little whatchamacallits.”
The last two webinars featured Becker College and SIP alumni.
“For ‘MassDiGI SIP Alumni & Their Journey,’ we had Chloe Tibits and Victoria Yong, both SIP and Becker alumnae, and co-creators of the Women in Games Becker club,” Siegel said. “We talked about their journey and how they got interested in game development. We also had SIP alumna Kate Olguin from WPI.
“The last webinar featured Ryan Canuel, CEO of Petricore and a Becker alumnus,” Seigel noted. “He spoke about how COVID-19 has affected the game industry, how it has affected his company, and where he thinks the game industry will go from here.”
All told, more than 90 people attended the 6 webinars. Siegel said the feedback— both from those who ran the webinars and those who attended— was overwhelmingly positive.
Looking back, Siegel said he really enjoyed the experience, and learned a great deal.
“My favorite thing were the actual streams, individuals, getting feedback, and just providing something for people to enjoy and learn from,” he said. “I learned about marketing, analytics, some legal things, and more.”
To see the 6 webinars organized by Jacob Siegel, go to http://thegamesguild.com/gamedev-explorer/. To learn more about the MassDiGi Summer Innovation Program, go to https://www.massdigi.org/programs-services/summer-innovation-program/. To learn more about Becker College’s game design programs, visit https://www.becker.edu/becker-college-game-design-ranked-2/.