HUNTINGTON — More than 400 people are expected to gather at Mountwest Community & Technical College early next month for the fourth annual West Virginia Game Developer Expo (WVGDE).

The event will be Friday, Nov. 8, and Saturday, Nov. 9. Participants will include creative professionals and students from the fields of game development, computer coding, web development, multimedia production, graphic design, illustration and writing and story development. The expo involves education, hands-on experimentation, showcases, exhibits and networking, according to organizers.

“According to the newly published ESA (Entertainment Software Association) report, more than three-quarters of gamers surveyed report that video games provide them with mental stimulation as well as relaxation and stress relief,” said Cory Brown, instructor and expo organizer. “The role of video games in the American family is also changing with nearly three-quarters of parents believing video games can be educational for their children and more than half enjoy playing games with their child at least weekly. This goes against a lot of common misconceptions about the gaming industry. And what we want is the gaming industry to gain a foothold in our area and create good-paying, exciting jobs for people here.”

People from across the state of West Virginia and surrounding areas, as well as from Columbus, Cincinnati and Lexington, will attend this event, which has been modeled after major conferences such as the Game Developers Conference held in San Francisco this year.

Registration for the expo is currently open, with details found online at Advanced registration is strongly encouraged but passes can be purchased at the door the day of the event. Tickets are free to K-12 students, college students and Mountwest staff and faculty. General admission price is $15.

Check-in for the WVGDE begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8, and Saturday, Nov. 9, in the main lobby of the college.

The keynote address will be given at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8, by Christian Allen from Epic Games. Allen is an experienced and BAFTA award-winning AAA game designer and creative director. Prior to joining Epic Games as the Unreal Engine Evangelist for North America, Allen served as lead designer, creative director, and design director of several AAA game projects for Ubisoft, Red Storm Entertainment, Microsoft, Bungie and Warner Brothers games. He also ran his own independent development studio, Serellan LLC, which shipped multiple titles on console, PC and VR.

The expo continues until 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, with a variety of workshops, sessions, a mixed-reality drone demonstration, an artist showcase and exhibits.

Brown said the expo is a professional event in which workshops, speaking sessions, exhibit hall and other activities will be happening during pre-specified times.

“This means plan to show up during the morning registration and stay as most or all of the day to not miss any possible activities,” he said. “Also, pay close attention to the disclaimers for various workshops and speaking sessions, as they may be designed for an older audience. Due to the professional nature of the expo, participants age 12 or under must be with a parent or guardian at all times.”

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