Approximately 300 game development professionals, students and hobbyists from around the U.S. are expected to converge on the Eastern Kentucky University campus this week for the fourth annual Vector Conference.
The event, to be held April 20-21 in the Perkins Building, is sponsored by the EKU Gaming Institute, RunJumpDev, the Kentucky Innovation Network Richmond Office, ID@Xbox, Epic Games, Wendell Wilson Business Technology Consulting, I Need Diverse Games and McAlister’s Deli.
For the third consecutive year, EKU’s game design program, the first of its kind in Kentucky, has ranked among the top 50 such programs worldwide, according to Princeton Review’s annual survey.
“This event is a big contributor to our top-50 ranking,” said Dr. George Landon, director of EKU’s Gaming Institute (gaming.eku.edu). “We will have more than 50 game studios represented on campus during Vector. This provides an invaluable networking opportunity, not just for our students, but also for these studios. Many of them are smaller and receive invaluable advice and feedback during events like these, but without having to travel to California.”
This year’s conference features Chris Charla, senior director for ID@Xbox, Microsoft’s independent developer program; Lena Raine, an award-winning sound designer; Jake Sones, a veteran game designer; and Luis Cataldi and Tom Shannon, both from Epic Games. “This is world-class talent from within the video game industry, and we are very fortunate to have them right on our campus,” Landon said.
University and high school students will demonstrate their own games in the Student Showcase, which runs throughout the two-day event. Students will be able to “listen to industry leaders present from their experience and expertise surpassed only by the largest west-coast and east-coast conferences, network with both internationally recognized and regionally prominent game developers, gain valuable feedback on their own work, portfolios and personal presentation. This is an invaluable experience for our students and one that is not replicated by many schools around the world.
“We will have some really great games from EKU students, like a virtual reality mail handling simulation; an eastern Kentucky mining town simulator; a five-player asymmetric multiplayer game; and many more titles,” Landon added. “This year we will also have student games from Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia being exhibited, with nearly 15 original titles in total.”
The first day of the conference will include a panel of industry veterans and a “fireside chat” with Wes Keltner, a Kentucky native and the creative force behind the New Friday the 13th game. Discussions will expand this year to include tabletop game design, with a tabletop game designer scheduled to speak on Friday, April 20.
The Kentucky Innovation Network is sponsoring a video game pitch contest for attendees. At 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, interested attendees can pitch their next big video game ideas to a panel of expert judges. Winners will receive $500 and assistance from the Kentucky Innovation Network.
Multiple workshops are slated on the Unreal Engine. Two representatives from Epic Games, makers of the Unreal Engine, will be on hand to meet with interested educators and students. In addition, a multiplayer video game party will be held on Friday from 6 to 10 p.m.
Two-day late and on-site admission is $50 per person; late and onsite admission for Friday only is $40. Student discounts are available. Lunch is included both days. For more information, including a full schedule of events, or to register, visit www.vectorconf.com, or contact Landon at firstname.lastname@example.org.