From play to work: Turning video games into a career at Centennial College

We’re living among a generation where many of us were raised with game controllers in our hands and want a career making these things that entertained us. Gamers have come a long way from the days when video game testing was thought of as the ideal career, though. Now, if you want to work on games, you need to be one of the creators, and to be one of the creators, you need the artistic skills. That’s the thinking behind the Game Art and Design program, giving students the chance to develop skills that can make them creators in the industry, or even other industries like animation. One student who was connected to a career was Yury Uvarov, who now works at Ubisoft, the Montreal-based company that created the Assassin’s Creed, Rayman and Far Cry franchises, among others.

Yury Uvarov
Yury Uvarov

From play to work

“I started my journey to Game Art in 2000, when I got my first PC and I discovered a wonderful game called Half-Life,” Yury says. “After completing the game I discovered that it had a level editor and I started creating my own maps. In 2004, when Half-Life 2 was released, I continued to make my own maps for the new game using the assets that were included with the game. But I quickly started to wonder how I can create my own assets, and that’s how I got introduced into the wonderful world of 3D modelling. In 2005, I got my hands on 3D Studio Max 6, became obsessed with game development and started to dream about a career in the game industry.”

Yury studied and worked in Russia, but his desire to enter the field would soon take him to Canada. “In 2008, I got a chance to travel to Canada to study and I thought it would be a great opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a game artist,” Yury says. “After some careful research I made my choice to study Game Art and Design at Centennial College, because I really liked the curriculum and at that time it was the only college in Toronto that offered a 2-year diploma course in Game Art.”

yury-uvarov-6Game Art and Design

“I really liked the diversity of the program,” Yury says. “Besides the various 3D modelling courses which were my top priority, it also had some classes dedicated to improving our 2D drawing skills.”

“The most challenging aspects of the program for me were getting used to a very different educational system compare to my home country, and also life drawing classes,” he says. “I had a lot of experience in 3D modelling before starting the program, but I had very little experience in drawing and I had to learn a lot more during those classes.”

“The most important thing that I learned in the school,” he says, “is that if you want to be successful at your craft you have to work hard and keep improving your skills even after you graduate to achieve your goal.”

“While I was at Centennial College I built very good work relationships with some of the teachers,” he adds. “These connections were very important later on for me to land a job at Ubisoft.”


“Currently I’m working as a Model Artist at Ubisoft Toronto,” Yury explains. “I model assets for Level Artists, which they use to create environments for the game.”

The project he’s working on is shrouded in secrecy, but he can talk about his daily tasks. “Typically, I model 3D assets in 3D Max that are requested by our Level Artists and export them into the game engine,” he says. “Sometimes I also help Level Artists with set dressing in the game editor.”

“What I like the most about this job is that I’m working very closely with a lot of talented artists from whom I can learn new tricks and techniques which will help me to grow as an artist and also share my knowledge with others.

Advice for his path

“The main advice that I can give: Be passionate about art, always try to learn something new and keep your skills sharp,” he says. “When working on your portfolio strive for quality over quantity, it’s better to have only two amazing art pieces in your portfolio instead of dozen mediocre ones.”

“Be prepared to work hard and multitask,” he says. “Even though it’s an art course, it doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park. There will be a lot of things to learn, lots of assignments and deadlines. But remember that without hard work, there is no success.”

By Anthony Geremia

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