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Workshop Exposes Students to Video Game Development

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YEREVAN—The roles were reversed at the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies this past spring as video game enthusiasts went from users to developers. With the guidance of information system specialist Hovsep Stepanyan, a group of students journeyed to the other side of the console to create video game levels of their very own.

Students take turns playing a video game developed in the school's CryENGINE workshop.

Students take turns playing a video game developed in the school’s CryENGINE workshop.

“In the beginning, the kids generally had no idea what video game design entailed,” explains Stepanyan. “But at the end of the workshop, they were all able to fully devise their own special levels for whatever game they chose.”

Using the CryENGINE software program, students in the two-month workshop had the opportunity to design advanced, specially tailored video game environments.

Tumo students test out video game levels designed by their peers.

Tumo students test out video game levels designed by their peers.

They started off with an empty 3D space provided by the program, on which they arranged landscapes, modified colors, and established point triggers between various objects. The easy-to-use program and support from Stepanyan succeeded in familiarizing participants with the otherwise daunting maze of video game design and visualization.

“Now that I can create my own levels for video games, my attention automatically drifts to the background environment when I play,” says Arman Kirakosyan, a two-year Tumo student who took the workshop and plans on pursuing game development as a career. “When you begin already creating levels yourself, you naturally focus more on the details of the game rather just playing it as a regular user.”

Stepanyan holds high hopes for young people like Arman who are learning game development in Armenia. With the video game market having surpassed both film and music globally in recent years, he believes the country can play an important role in this growing industry.

“We have a lot to offer and present to the outside world, given our unique culture and ability,” insists Stepanyan. “If we build up the game development industry here in Armenia, we have the potential to show global audiences something they have never seen before.”

On Saturday, June 22, the student body at TUMO got to test out the game levels developed by participants in the CryENGINE workshop. Six computer modules were set up in the center’s installation area for groups of kids to take turns throughout the day enjoying the game their peers designed.

Screenshot of a video game level designed by 18-year-old Tumo student Arman Stepanyan.

Screenshot of a video game level designed by 18-year-old Tumo student Arman Stepanyan.

The success of the workshop will be carried forward into the summer session with Beginner and Intermediate level workshops being offered in the months of July and August.

The TUMO Center for Creative Technologies is a unique digital media resource center in the heart of Yerevan, Armenia. Since its opening in 2011, the center has provided thousands of students aged 12-18 an open environment where they can utilize the latest in digital communications, learn from media professionals, and explore the intersection of art and technology.

For more information, visit www.tumo.org.

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