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Competition Promotes Inclusivity in Game Design

By Joy Owens

Old Dominion University and the Virginia Modeling, Analysis, & Simulation Center (VMASC) have partnered for the Inclusive Gaming Challenge, an event designed to use gaming as a bridge to promote inclusivity among the community and awareness to the new game design major at the university. The Inclusive Gaming Challenge will allow challengers to program or design prototypes such as board games or hybrid games that are designed with everyone in mind. The teams will have five minutes to present their game design to a panel of judges at VMASC in Suffolk.

The challengers will team up to create a new game prototype with a concept that is accessible to as many people as possible. Co-founder and program director Kevin Moberly sat down to explain the idea behind the Inclusive Gaming Challenge; an event that will challenge students to program and develop games that ultimately bring people together despite disabilities and differences. Moberly said taking away a barrier such as disability will allow for better gaming experience and a heightened sense of confidence in individuals.

"Inclusivity is just that, games that are designed for people that aren't necessarily good at gaming" because of physical limitations, Moberly said.

He added that disability is not a personal trait, but that it is constructed by social situations. Inclusivity in game design discusses breaking the norms of gender, ethnic, cultural, and racial representation while recognizing that there is more than one type of person. Moberly is collaborating with VMASC faculty, Saikou Diallo, Bratislav Cvijetic (BaTo), Hector Garcia, Krzysztof Rechowicz and John Shull, to come up with this challenge as a way to build a bridge between the new gaming major and the resources that VMASC offers.

University students of any major, along with the IDS Game Development Design Criticism major, are welcome to participate in the event on February 25.

A collaborative panel of expert judges from VMASC, the software industry, and a game designer will judge the teams based on rubrics and certain criteria. The teams will then be responsible for creating promotional videos designed to showcase their game features, gameplay, plus the design and development process.

"This competition will brand the identity of the new gaming major and show that these are the type of game designers we want to produce...This is one way we are trying to brand the identity of the major," Moberly said. He added the competition is also a way to introduce students to other opportunities available at VMASC.

Old Dominion University and VMASC invite the public to join them again on April 25 for an interactive bridge-building experience when the public interacts with student-developed games and witness first-hand how they will impact their community. Students still have the opportunity to register to compete in this event either as a team or single to be placed in a team.

Joy Owens is a junior public relations major with a marketing minor from Covington, GA. This story was written as part of a partnership between the ODU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and the College of Arts & Letters to give students out-of-classroom experience in writing for public relations.

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