Game Design students ready to conquer Los Angeles

Keana Almario and Jennifer Stienstra are working on their game. (Photo by Renata Khuzina/ The Sheridan Sun)

BY RENATA KHUZINA

Sheridan’s second-year Game Design students Yani Wang, Keana Almario, Shepherd Cameron and Jennifer Stienstra created a Monster Girls Gaynerations: Ghoulfriends For Life video game and have been invited to show it off at The Queerness and Games Conference in Los Angeles, on April 1 and 2.

QGCon is an annual, nationally recognized event intended to explore the intersection of LGBTQ issues and video games. The four talented women used their opportunity at the end of one of their semesters to create a game they’ve always wanted to and became successful enough to present their work at the fourth annual conference in California.

“Our teacher, Yifat Shaik, liked the game enough to tell us to submit it for the conference that we are going to in L.A.,” said Yani Wang. “The concept of our dating game sounds so ridiculous that I think when people hear it – it instantly interests them.”

Accessibility, inclusion, and creativity are key values of QGCon. The purpose of the event is to foster a dialogue between scholars, game developers and game players.

“Our game was the only one that involved gay people and it fit the theme of QGCon and all other requirements for the event,” said Keana Almario. “And our professor told us specifically to apply for this conference first.”

Most of the group projects are assigned but this time they could pick their own.

“For this game I wanted to work with people I haven’t been working with before. I usually end up in groups that work on more mechanical games, but this time I wanted to try totally different direction,” said Almario. “And since I knew Jen wanted to make a gay visual novel game.”

From the left: Shepherd cameron, Jennifer Stienstra, Keana Almario and Yani Wang. (Photo by Renata Khuzina/ The Sheridan Sun)

The QGCon is something new to explore and a good networking chance for the girls.

“You never see a lot of games that are focused on LGBT issues. The organizers take a lot of the games and compile it all in one event. I believe it’s a good chance to see how other media portray LGBT issues,” said Shepherd Cameron.

“Since the conference is very academic, our goal is to win the audience’s hearts. Bring on the charms,” said Jennifer Stienstra.

The students did their best in a two-week period and are planning on improving the game in the nearest future.

Their resources were limited, so to help to cover some of their trip’s fare, they ran a GOFundMe campaign and were able to raise $1,094 that went toward the cost of flights, lodging, food and transportation.

“Showing off our game at a conference means the world to us, and we are grateful for all the help we got,” said Stienstra. “We are very excited for our four-day trip.”

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