2013, BFA Computer Game Design
What made you choose Mason's Computer Game Design program?
My brother attended GMU before me, and it was relatively close to friends and family so it seemed like a good fit.
What makes the program at Mason stand out above the rest?
There are some outstanding faculty members who come from the game design industry and who really put a lot of effort into ensuring the students grow the necessary skills and abilities to succeed. We were also exposed to most aspects of the industry which has been very helpful. The ability to know how all of the moving pieces of game development work together, even if you specialize into a specific space, can help you understand the needs of other team members. Most game development is a group effort with a lot of collaboration.
What brought you together with fellow alums Alex Estep and Stewart Van Buren to build a startup?
The game industry has a problem of needing experience to get an entry level position. When we graduated there weren't too many positions for people of our skill level, at least not directly with studios. We had worked together on a number of projects and in the game design club, GADIG and knew we had a good opportunity. We started the company with the intent to make video games and had a great opportunity to pivot into the training simulation/serious games space through first responder incident command training.
Was there a particular professor or professors that inspired you?
Professor Grimsby was an excellent instructor. He cared about student success and that they get meaningful and applicable experience that they can use in the field. He also had a very enthusiastic approach to teaching which made his classes very engaging. His grading was the harshest of any of the instructors in the program at the time, he expected a lot, but the students are better for it.
Which were your favorite classes?
I enjoyed my capstone and the Unity courses the most. I was more focused on the development and management side of things so I feel that I got a lot out of these.
What was your senior capstone?
For the capstone I was able to work with another student, Stephen Berrigan, to create a really fun and in depth project called Skooma House using the Skyrim Creation Kit. We built a fully-voiced add-on that came with a multi-act story and narrative with new mechanics where the players are creating a Skooma Cartel. It included new skill trees, mechanics for growing moon-sugar, a new player house, crafting skooma, new npcs and a bunch of other nice to haves.
Is there anything else you can think of that might be of interest to prospective Game Design students?
Doing a program like Computer Game Design in college allows you the opportunity to learn a great deal in a short time. It is a much better time to learn from mistakes than while working with a studio, so adapt when you make mistakes and learn from those failures. If you do that and really apply yourself to creating games and assets you can come out with a lot of meaningful experience to set up your career. Who you know in the game industry can also have a very big impact, so if you're able to work hard and make good impressions on those you work with and those around you, it may pay off big time years down the road.