I’ve found myself in a fairly unique situation in my life. As a child, I woke up early just to play games before heading off to school. Their immersive worlds, high levels of interactivity and complex stories continue to captivate me even today. I excelled at programming in high school and discovered art at the beginning of college. Discovering a way to use both of these disciplines drew me to game design. Trying to understand the intricate nature of a multifaceted field has kept me in love with my work. I study the interaction of logistics between game mechanisms and their effects on the player experience. I enjoy the challenge that comes from empathizing with the player and taking on multiple perspectives when tackling a project. All the while, I’m balancing every level of interaction to achieve the perfect formula of difficulty and reward, intuition and creativity, and immersion and sociability to craft an experience not easily forgotten.
This work challenged me to pursue my Masters Degree. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, I crafted a new course called Intro to Game Development. This course challenges students to develop their very own game. The curriculum of the class covered a wide range of disciplines including game design, digital painting, modeling, texturing, special effects, sound design, and programming. In my endeavors to efficiently communicate to students, I ran across some issues I’m sure every teacher experiences. After trying to improve my lectures with clarifying slide shows and projected tutorials, I found that the students retained more from our class discussions. The students’ interaction with me helped them learn more than my lectures did, and this occurred not because I was communicating poorly, but because the students weren’t involved in their own education. I gave them solutions to their problems instead of showing them how to problem-solve. My unique situation of being a teacher and a game designer placed me at the precipice of a problem with the knowledge of a possible solution. Through this experience, I discovered that the interactive nature and the inherent structure of video games can be an effective tool for teaching problem solving.