SSI: The Skins Summer Institute

Posted on July 1, 2011, 1:40 am, by Elizabeth LaPensée, under Games, Workshops.

Life has been busy for AbTeC as we prepare for the Skins Summer Institute (SSI) in late July at Concordia University in Montreal. SSI is a two-week intensive workshop for Aboriginal (Indigenous/First Nations/Native) youth that combines instruction in video game design with immersion into Aboriginal stories and storytelling techniques. The workshop covers traditional storytelling as well as important topics in game development including: narrative, art direction, 3D modeling and animation, level design, sound, and programming.


SSI is based on the curriculum of the Skins 1.0 pilot, which resulted in the imagineNATIVE award-winning Otsi!: Rise of the Kanien’kehá:ka Legends. Whereas Skins 1.0 used the Unreal game engine, we’re excited to use UNITY this time because of the wider range of possibilities and the immense user support out there.

We’re glad to bring back Nacho Nyak Dun storyteller Louise Profeit-LeBlanc and Mohawk artist Owisokon Lahache, who were both invaluable to the success of Skins 1.0. We will also have Anishinaabe photographer Scott Benesiinaabandan, artist Tommy Deer, Secwepemc animator Mathew McNeill, sound designer Shawn Mullen, and sound artist Darwin Frost. From game industry, we’re excited to have Morgan Kennedy from Ubisoft and Ruben Farrus from Minority.

Look out for a new curriculum packet after we recover from the intensity of running the workshop. We’ll have a number of publications coming out based on the curriculum, structure, and student experience thanks to working on assessment with Jen Jenson, Amanda Williams, and Shanly Dixon. We’ll also share the games that come out of the workshop similarly to Otsi!.

If you are interested in following the students as the workshop progresses, feel free to visit the Skins Summer Institute blog that will be launched soon.

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