The HHS Gaming Academy: Bison Software and Alpha Pack

By: Devin Fussa

Heritage High School proudly holds claim to the Game Art and Design Academy, a program in which students focus on learning the specifics of software design and programming. Along with the academy, two clubs were formed to focus on the real world aspect of classroom teachings. In recent times, both Bison Software and Alpha Pack have taken lives of their own.

Founded by Heritage student John Champion, Bison Software was created in 2013. With a collection of nine other interested students, the club was formed with the goal of learning various programming systems. The group began by learning a middle-level computer programming language called C++, and many students soon found more particular interests within the realm of programming. “After a while, their knowledge had grown to the point where each one of them started to specialize in a different [program] language,” says Mr. Bullock, the club advisor. This specialization of skills grew to a point where they wanted to develop games, specifically for IOS. The group first designed and developed a game called “Space Gravity”, which, although simple, demonstrated the possibilities of what the club could create. They then decided to develop educational games. “Bison Software is an opportunity for students at Heritage High School to learn how to program, but to learn with the mindset that we’re going to be producing products, we’re going to market these products, and we’re going to sell these products,” stated Mr. Bullock. Over the years, the group has excelled at connecting their skills to careers, focusing on the business aspects of the programming industry.

Alpha Pack, on the other hand, is an after-school game design studio. With multiple branches of the club, such as the art team, production team, and programming team, they aim to design games. Participants of the club have finalized the production of two games, having also put effort into the creation of multiple other projects. “…We brainstorm a game, we create concepts, we create art, [and] we create models to concept that art,” said member Steven Falkl. A student run organization, Marty Cullen currently serves as the Alpha Pack president. “It gives people a chance to actually develop a portfolio of games. When they go to get a job in the game design career… they can show all the work that they’ve [already] done”, Cullen explained.   

Both of these clubs provide HHS students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge of gaming to real-world environments. With focus on application of such knowledge to future careers, both Bison Software and Alpha Pack allow students to use their interests in a most productive manner.