Game Design | Game Development and Design Program at VFS

Advisory Board

The Game Design Advisory Board is a group of select professionals who work closely with VFS faculty to structure the program curriculum. The evolving needs of industry frequently create gaps between educators and professionals. Our commitment to work closely with leading professionals ensures that as an institution we are always adapting. This extraordinary relationship between educators and studios keeps our curriculum current and relevant, and provides students certainty that methods learned at VFS prepare them to jump directly from school to studio.

Jake Birkett | David Elton | Clint Hocking | Bruce McMillan | Joshua Nilson | Carl Schnurr | Dan Scott | David Seymour

Jake Birkett

Grey Alien Games

In 2005, after nearly a decade of developing stock control and accounting systems for bookshops in the United Kingdom, Jake formed his own company in a bid to realize a lifelong dream to make games. As a Lead Programmer/Designer for Big Fish Games, he has eight casual games under his belt, including the top-selling Fairway Solitaire and Unwell Mel download titles. He was also part of the team that made My Tribe for Facebook.

Having been both an independent developer and an employee in the casual game industry, Jake offers his perspective on both of these different approaches, and is also knowledgeable about running a business. Due to the small and manageable nature of downloadable casual games companies, Jake has experience with every stage of the development process from design and implementation, to testing and localization.

Like many 30-somethings, Jake has been playing games his entire life, and loves to put his experience to good use by making fun and great casual games. Along with brainstorming new ideas with fellow designers, Jake enjoys honing the fine details to give games that all-important polished feel.

Jake is also the co-founder of Full Indie, a Vancouver-based meet-up group for indie game developers with well over 1,000 members.

David Elton

Electronic Arts
Senior Designer

David is a 13 year veteran of the video games industry. His career has spanned 4 generations of console development as well as a PC market that has changed radically since the days of the 386. David has spent the majority of his career with Electronic Arts, where he has worked on the Need For Speed franchise, the SSX franchise and numerous other titles. He has also worked with ReadySoft Inc. on the home versions of Dragon's Lair and Space Ace, with Acclaim Entertainment when they were one of the giants of the industry, and with Microsoft Game Studios as a Business Development Manager, finding the next big hits for Xbox 360 and the PC.

David has experience in a number of capacities including Project Manager, Development Director, Business Development Manager, Producer, and, currently, as the Senior Designer for the Need For Speed franchise.

David has a Bachelor's of Arts from the University of Guelph.

Clint Hocking

Clint Hocking began his game design career in 2001, working for Ubisoft Montreal as a Level Designer, Game Designer, and Scriptwriter on the original Splinter Cell. For his writing work on the title, Clint was honoured with the first-ever Game Developer's Choice Award for Excellence in Scriptwriting, along with JT Petty. Clint continued as Lead Level Designer, Scriptwriter, and Creative Director on Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory – the highest rated Splinter Cell to date, with an aggregate review score of 94%. Clint then worked as Creative Director on the innovative and acclaimed Far Cry 2.

In 2010, Clint left Ubisoft and moved to San Francisco, where worked as a Creative Director at LucasArts. From 2012 to 2013, Clint worked as a designer and level designer at Valve in Seattle.

Before games, Clint worked in the web industry and experimented with independent filmmaking while earning an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. He maintains a blog at www.clicknothing.com.

Bruce McMillan

Bruce McMillan is a 25+ year industry veteran with expertise in Executive Production and rapid studio growth and development. During his 15 year tenure at Electronic Arts (EA), he held increasingly senior management positions leading to Executive VP, EA Worldwide Studios.

Bruce was responsible for the majority of EA's Internal Studios and was a key participant in senior-level strategy and acquisitions for all of EA Studios. He co-founded EA Canada, one of the largest interactive studios in the world, aggressively grew EA’s European Studios, and led EA's acquisition of DreamWorks Interactive in Los Angeles. Bruce also established EA Worldwide Studio locations in the UK Chertsey and drove the establishment of Tiburon Studios in Florida.

Bruce has developed, produced, or managed over 100 games, including blockbusters like Madden Football, The Lord of The Rings, James Bond, Harry Potter, Medal of Honor, NHL Hockey, Tiger Woods Golf, and FIFA Soccer. He also managed, and was a key participant, in the highly successful Sims franchise and Maxis Studios.

After leaving EA, Bruce spent time as a consultant for a key private equity firm on strategic investments and buyouts of entertainment companies throughout the industry. During this period, he founded BLINK Media Inc., an entertainment company focused on the creation and development of key game titles and intellectual properties. Bruce sits on various boards and participates in a number of companies, including Valiant Entertainment.

Joshua Nilson

East Side Games
Chief Operating Officer

Josh Nilson is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of East Side Games in Vancouver. A fiercely independent social-mobile game studio, East Side Games has over seven million unique players, with more than 100,000 players engaging across its mobile and social games every day.

Josh has specialized in the mobile and social game space since 2009. His keen efforts were integral in turning East Side Games into a profitable studio, growing East Side Games from 14 to more than 50 employees while crafting and evolving the distinct and unique culture that makes East Side Games the best place to work and play.

Josh previously worked at Relic Entertainment, where he played a critical role in the commercial success of the acclaimed RTS games Dawn of War II and Company of Heroes.

Josh continuously works with the indie development community of Vancouver to improve communication among local studios and hopes to grow the best gaming ecosystem in the world. Josh wants to help current and future indie studios succeed in these exciting times. You can follow him on Twitter at @joshnilson.

Carl Schnurr

Carl Schnurr is the Senior Director of Game Design at Activision, where he and his Central Design Group provide design oversight and assistance to the teams behind all of Activision's titles. Previous work includes producing and designing the award-winning tactical shooters Rainbow Six and Rogue Spear for Red Storm Entertainment, and overseeing the design of Amped, Top Spin Tennis, and Links as a Design Director for Microsoft Game Studios.

Prior to joining the games industry, Carl designed shuttle astronaut protocols, delivered singing telegrams, and freelanced for White Wolf. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from Duke University, where he studied quantum optics.

Dan Scott

Slant Six Games
Producer

Dan Scott is a games industry veteran with over 22 years of experience. He currently serves as a Producer for Slant Six Games, where he is responsible for managing and directing the Galactic Reign project with Microsoft.

Dan has had a passion for games and the game industry since the mid '80s. After completing his education in Robotics, Dan began his career as a Software Engineer with Distinctive Software (later Electronic Arts Canada) and developed an interest in game production, making that transition after 10 years with EA.

Scott spent several years as a Producer/Consultant before joining Nokia in 2003, where he quickly proved his capabilities. He was promoted to Senior Producer for North America in 2005 and then Global Head of Production for Nokia's 1st Party Games in 2007.

Throughout his career, Scott has shipped over 40 games on a variety of consoles as well as PC and Mobile platforms.

David Seymour

BigPark
Game Director

After narrowly escaping the apocalyptic events of the Y2K transition, David bailed out of his IT career and began making video games. He started out by working on an indie PC project before joining Moderngroove Entertainment as a Producer and Designer on Moderngroove Presents: Ministry of Sound for the PS2. He was later hired as a Designer by Radical Entertainment, where he worked on James Cameron's Dark Angel game. After that, the sky was the limit. David was promoted to a Lead Design role and dove into concept development.

In 2003, he moved to Electronic Arts Canada, where he produced Need for Speed Underground on GBA. This led to a Lead Design gig on NFSU: Rivals on PSP, which was quickly followed with a Producer and Lead Design role on NFS: Most Wanted 5-1-0. Both of the NFS games sold over 750,000 copies and were re-released as "Greatest Hits". David led the design on SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Tactical Strike, which brings the series to Confrontation.

Recently, David moved from his position as Design Director at Slant Six Games to become the Game Director at BigPark. He aspires to resume skateboarding, writes autobiographical blurbs in the third person, and tells himself that he will get through his game backlog later this year.