VFS Opens New Gaming Campus in Chinatown

Created by Vancouver Film School student Christine Lee through the VFS 3D (2006)

Last Friday, the Vancouver Film School’s celebrated the launch of its new gaming campus in Chinatown. My friend, Gagan Diesh—a senior instructor at the VFS and Director of DesignStamp—invited me to the event where opening remarks by Mayor Gregor Robertson were followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of the facilities.

Revitalizing Chinatown
When Channel M vacated 88 Easter Pender Street, VFS stepped in to take over the space and open their first dedicated gaming campus. The move is in line with the revitalization of Chinatown, a partnership between the City of Vancouver and the local community to address safety and stimulate economic growth in the area.

Both the City and the community have focused on “attracting new investments while respecting the area’s culture and heritage. Key revitalization strategies include cultural and economic development, public space improvements, intensification of land use, and inter-generational programming.” (May 2009 Backgrounder)

Vancouver is already the third largest hub for film and game production in North America. But before opening its new campus in Chinatown, the VFS was at capacity, struggling with a waitlist of 100 students. The new facility will allow more students to enroll in VFS’s programs, which also carries the promise of more instructors and funding.

Plus, 50 percent of VFS students are international who will ultimately share their experiences here with wider networks. In short, VFS’s new campus is great news for Chinatown and those committed to its renewal.

Women in Gaming
During the event, the VFS also announced the winner of their Third Annual Game Design Scholarship to Women. Valued at up to $50,000, the award enables an aspiring female game designer to attend VFS’s acclaimed one-year Game Design program, covering her full tuition. This year’s winner is Larissa Baptista of Rio de Janeiro. The first of its kind in the world, this scholarship encourages greater opportunities for women pursuing a career in game design.

In an industry traditionally created by and for men, changing demographics highlight why such a scholarship is required:

  • Women now comprise 40% of U.S. video game players.
  • Women age 18 or older now represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33%) than boys age 17 or younger (18%).
  • Women comprise 55% of all social gamers (web-based games like Farmville played on social networks like Facebook).
  • Women play social games multiple times a day (38%) in comparison to just 29% of males.
  • Women are more likely to play with people they know (68% vs. 56% for males).
    (Source: ESA’S 2008 Consumer Survey and PopCap Games Social Games Survey)

Congratulations to the VFS and all involved in what promises to be a facility that gives back to its city, industry and the broad community of gamers.

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