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Academic Chapters VS Professional Chapters

IGDA Academic Chapters differ from IGDA Professional Chapters in the following ways:

  • Academic Chapters are affiliated with a specific university, college, or a similar institution that is considered to be part of higher education, post-secondary education, or third level education.

    • Note: The Academic Chapter program currently does not include other types of schools such as elementary school, primary school, high school, or secondary school. This may change in the future.

  • The leadership of an Academic Chapter must be composed of current students who attend the specific school or university that the chapter is affiliated with.

    • Occasionally faculty members will attempt to start academic chapters at their school, but the first step is to find students who are interested in running the chapter.

    • Another way for faculty to get their schools involved with the IGDA is through the Academic Affiliate program.

  • Academic Chapters must be in good standing with the school that they are affiliated with. This usually means having the support of a faculty member who can act as the chapter’s faculty advisor.

    • Many schools have formal procedures for officially recognizing and supporting student-run organizations. We encourage our Academic Chapters to take advantage of these procedures in order to better maintain a positive relationship with their school.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about the relationship between Academic Chapters and Professional Chapters:

  • In some regions, IGDA Academic Chapters have become the main hub of game development in their local communities, and in these cases, it’s normal for these chapters to attract membership from a few local professionals and indies.

    • The primary mission of Academic Chapters is to prioritize the needs of students, so if the local professional community has grown to a significant size, it may be beneficial to create a new Professional Chapter to better support everyone.

  • Many Academic Chapters exist in cities that already have a local Professional Chapter. In some cases, there may even be other Academic Chapters in the same city but for different schools.

    • It’s important for the leadership of these Chapters to frequently talk to each other, and when possible, attend each other’s events. This will strengthen the local game development community and lead to potential career opportunities for the student members of Academic Chapters.

    • In these cases, these chapters usually end up coordinating their events in order to avoid conflicts, and they help spread the word of other chapters’ events to their members.

Steps for Starting a New Academic Chapter

There are two options for how students can create a new IGDA Academic Chapter:

  1. Option 1: Create a brand new chapter from scratch.

    • This means you must find at least two other students who are willing to help run the new chapter.

  2. Option 2: Convert an existing school club into an IGDA Academic Chapter

    • If your school already has an existing student-run organization that focuses on game development, then the leadership of the club can apply to officially affiliate their club with the IGDA.

    • These clubs tend to have an established name and brand, such as “UA GameDev Club” or “VT Game Developers.” The club leadership can choose whether they would like to keep their existing name or to change their name to something more standard, such as “UA IGDA” or “IGDA GBC.”

    • Many clubs grow attached to their existing name and the reputation that the club has built up. However, using the IGDA name can often make it easier to attract industry sponsors and guest speakers. While a club’s existing name might be valuable internally in the school, the power of the IGDA’s name often becomes most apparent when making connections outside of the school.

    • The other major challenge that chapters face when choosing to keep their original name is that they often struggle to communicate their affiliation with the IGDA to their community. This results in chapters where their members don’t even realize their chapter is part of the IGDA. To avoid this problem, it’s important for chapters to feature the IGDA logo alongside their club name on their websites, banners, posters, and all other promotional material.

Once you’re ready to apply, follow these steps:

  1. Verify that you have at least three students who are leaders of the Chapter.

  2. Find a faculty member of your school who is willing to act as the Chapter’s faculty advisor.

    • This person is employed by the school, college, or university that your Chapter is associated with.

    • Because students graduate every year, the faculty advisor can also serve as a backup contact, to help the IGDA stay in touch with your Chapter.

  3. Submit an application at the following link:

Once your application is approved, you’ll be contacted by one of the volunteers from the IGDA Student SIG, who will schedule a conference call with you. This call is to help onboard you as a new chapter, and it’s also an opportunity for the IGDA to learn about some of the unique challenges that your local game developer community faces.

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