By MAYA JOHNSON
Eastern students interested in computer science and gaming were given helpful tips to get into the gaming industry by Insomniac Game Designer, Lisa Brown on Monday, Oct. 27.
Born and raised in Louisville, Brown got her undergraduate degree from Centre College. She is also a graduate from Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center.
Brown talked to CSC 550 (graphics programming) class in Wallace 452 via Skype. She discussed what students needed in order to get into the gaming company as a designer, developer and programmer. She mostly touched on Game Jams, a timed event when game developers gather and work together to create games and come up with ideas for levels, designs and other gaming elements. Some of her tips centered on planning how the game is going to work.
“Spend time thinking about polishing the game in 48 hours,” she said.
Game Jams usually have to be done in 24 to 48 hours, but Brown said it is a good idea to take about two hours to brainstorm what the game will be about. Go through ideas, think about the design of the game and the transition between the start screen and the levels of the game, Brown said. For computer science majors, or anyone wanting to go into gaming, Brown said it is good to put constraints on one’s self.
“The more constraints I put on myself,” Brown said, “the more okay I feel about creating ideas.”
Another topic she talked about that she said was very important was having a strong portfolio to present to gaming companies. She admitted that those wanting to pursue a career in gaming don’t necessarily have to go to graduate school, because game companies mainly focus on the work of the person. They look at projects the student has done, their networks and connections and the resources they used.
Brown warned the CSC 550 students not to use Game Jams as the primary source for their portfolios because those projects are usually small and don’t show the full skills of the students. She suggested that students spend at least three months on their portfolio pieces. Gaming companies look for people who have the skills they need to complete projects.
Mark Cahalan, computer science senior from Georgetown, said he has been working on his portfolio in bits and pieces.
“It’s good to hear from a professional in the industry,” said Alex Mankin, a computer science major from Louisville. “They have hands-on experience and know about the community.”
Brown listed several sites such as Compohub.net and Pixeljoint.com where people in the gaming community can congregate and hone their development skills by participating in scheduled Game Jams.
“It’s always good to have experience in different disciplines of game design, you never want to stay still,” Brown said.