July 17, 2016
Torey Stickrath has been gaming since he was two years old. It started with the original Nintendo Entertainment System, but became a passion when he discovered the complex worlds of role-playing games (RPGs) like "Mystic Quest" and "Final Fantasy". Over the years, he's engaged in just about every angle of IT and gaming, from computer repair to network administration, before finally enrolling in the BS in Game Design and Development program at SNHU. Now married and based in Maine, Torey took some time to talk to us about the past and present of games, along with where he might fit into its future.
I chose SNHU because it was one of the only schools that had something I was interested in, and the potential to go for my MS in IT shortly after graduating REALLY appealed to me. I'm still not sure if I'm going to go for it yet, but I'm heavily considering it.
Has SNHU helped open doors for you outside of the classes you've taken?
I would say it has. I was able to learn 3D modeling and rendering with 3DS Max at SNHU. My degree has actually increased my possibilities in other fields that may or may not be related to gaming, such as 3D animation, programming, and even fiction and nonfiction writing.
A major component for my degree was writing. While we learned how to make the usual pitch and design documents, we also covered writing scripts and narratives for gaming. For example, one of my projects was coming up with a story for a small game my group developed. Together, we asked questions like: "Why was the character in this place and what was their motivation? What might they encounter and how might they act?"
Arts and Sciences have always been a major aspect of gaming. People tend to think about the physics first. Along with that, games are slowly being repurposed for medical science, such as the treatment of PTSD in soldiers and simulated training for doctors. Art, on the other hand, is just as much of a major consideration. In game dev, we rely on concept art to help us give life to the worlds and characters. Character sketches can be turned into pixel art or 3D renderings. Concept art can make sure we're hitting the right feel graphically.
There's been a LOT of changes. We've seen the hardware become more and more powerful, going from simple 8-bit era of the Nintendo Entertainment System to the polygonal era of the PlayStation and N64. We've seen consoles become all-in-one entertainment solutions, and families are even bonding around game systems, mine included. It was my mother and father that got me interested in the Nintendo to begin with.
There's been one particular change that's interested me though: How we view games. We went from it being a simple pastime to a multibillion dollar industry within the span of maybe a decade or two. There's been a conversation about whether games can be considered art or just entertainment. That said, gaming is able to convey emotion to a player in a way unlike paintings, sculptures and audio alone can. We don't simply play a game, we experience it.
I find it all exciting! Everything from writing out the code to the documentation, creating the characters in 2D or 3D and even marketing - it all gets me excited about working in the industry.
This article was originally published in Stem Journal Issue 4, The Art of Technology.
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