Games being played at Level Up. Photo courtesy of U of T..=

Students from 17 different post-secondary institutions from across Ontario, including OCAD U, are demonstrating more than 60 games at the fourth annual Level Up Showcase on Friday, April 4. Held at the Design Exchange, the popular event continues to grow, with more institutions, partners, sponsors and gamers participating than ever before.

Level Up was first initiated in 2011 by Emma Westecott, Assistant Professor, Game Design and Director, game:play Lab at OCAD U, together with Steve Engels, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Toronto, as a collaborative teaching event bringing together art, design and computer science students to make games.

As the event evolved Westecott and Engels began inviting more members of the closely-knit Toronto gaming community to participate, along with students from other post-secondary institutions. The event is garnering international interest — the Level Up team presented at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), the world’s largest industry event, in San Francisco in March, and was also featured in the GDC 2014 Education Summit.

“We are proud of how we have grown in the past four years,” said Westecott. “I think it’s important. Showcases like Level Up enable students to see how their work fits to the wider context of other student games and motivates everyone to excel—showing your work to an audience of 800 people is very different than a regular end-of-term critique.”

Connecting with industry and community

With a wide range of gaming companies and industry organizations participating, the event also provides students with the opportunity to interact with future potential employers. “More than one game company has picked up new employees at the event,” said Westecott.

It’s also a good way for students to connect with Toronto’s thriving independent gaming community in Toronto, including organizations such asBento Misothe Hand Eye Society and Dames Making Games.

“Toronto is home to a wealth of independent game makers, not to mention the plethora of individuals whose ongoing generosity remains an inspiration, and resource, for all our students,” said Westecott. “Connecting to and supporting this community is central to my work at OCAD U. I believe that we can build virtuous circles to benefit all and help us reach beyond our boundaries.”

Level Up at the Design Exchange. Photo Courtesy of U of T.

Level Up at the Design Exchange. Photo Courtesy of U of T.

Learn more:

Level Up Showcase 2014

Level Up on Facebook  

Attend Level Up 

OCAD U’s game:play lab

Article coutesy of Sarah Mulholland