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Sheridan graduating Game Design student Sukhraj Johal

Sheridan students excel at the Ubisoft Toronto NEXT Challenge

Jun 2, 2020
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The Toronto studio of leading video game company Ubisoft hosted a virtual awards ceremony for its seventh-annual NEXT Challenge on the evening of May 27. Sheridan students once again exceled in the Ontario post-secondary competition with two podium finishes.

Sukhraj Johal, a fourth-year Honours Bachelor of Game Design student, won first place in the Level Design category. Honours Bachelor of Interaction Design student Wilson Truong won second place in User Interface. In total, five Sheridan students were finalists including Johal, Truong, Aldi Abujan in Concept Art, and Carsten Booth and Nawaf Bahadur in Level Design.

The competition is designed as an opportunity to showcase talent and kickstart careers in the industry. “The growth of our studio depends on the talents and skills of new graduates,” said Rima Brek, Associate Managing Director at Ubisoft Toronto, during the awards ceremony. As a first-place winner in one of seven categories, Johal earned a three-month, paid apprenticeship at Ubisoft Toronto. As was the case with the NEXT Challenge awards ceremony, the work opportunity will be conducted virtually due to physical distancing restrictions in place with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The competition took a lot of perseverance and hard work,” says Johal. In three phases of work, students were asked to develop a compelling video game mission that involved infiltrating a futuristic facility with a high-tech security system, while drawing from some of Ubisoft’s popular game titles. “I couldn't have done it without the support and guidance from the faculty in the Sheridan Game Design Program as well as my friends and family.”

Johal was recently part of a winning Sheridan team at the Intel University Game Showcase (IUGS) – a highly regarded game development event for post-secondary institutions across North America. His team, comprised of graduating Sheridan peers, was presented a top honour – the Innovation Award – for their educational sustainable farming game LightFarm. “As a multidisciplinary designer, I am motivated to design and build worlds that foster player curiosity and exploration,” says Johal.

Professor Jeffrey Pidsadny mentored the three NEXT Level Design finalists, including Johal. “I’m so proud of how well students represented Sheridan among their college and university counterparts,” he says. “Sukhraj is an exceptional level designer and has great potential to bring value to a studio with his skills.”

This isn’t the first time Sheridan students have performed well at NEXT. In 2019, seven were finalists and fourth-year Game Design student Nathan Powless-Lynes won first place in Level Design.

Watch the awards presentation on YouTube (scroll to the 30 minute mark to see Sukhraj Johal on camera) and check out his portfolio.

Pictured top right: Graduating Sheridan Honours Bachelor of Game Design student Sukhraj Johal with a screenshot of his submission to the level design category in the Ubisoft NEXT Challenge.
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