Game development offers careers that are fun ways to deal with serious business.
That was the word Wednesday night from half a dozen alumni of Lawrence Technological University’s game art and game software development programs, who gathered with about 75 students and faculty for the second annual Infinite Machine Networking Night.
Infinite Machine is the student game-making organization at LTU. It meets twice a week to create computer games, drawing students from LTU’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art and Bachelor of Science in Computer Science concentration in game software development programs.
Highlights from the speakers:
- Jordan Klaus, a senior in the game art program, described his internship at Quicken Loans, where he worked on training games for mortgage bankers based on TV game shows Family Feud and Wheel of Fortune. “Look for a place where you fit,” he said. “Look for a place where you will have fun and everything else will fall into place.”
- Kurt Wieber, a 2016 computer science graduate and founding member of Infinite Machine, described his current post as a technical support engineer for ImageSoft Inc., a Southfield-based developer of document processing software for governments and courts. “I don’t work in games but I gained a lot from working on them,” he said, including skills like “lateral thinking,” an ability to devise creative ways to solve problems, along with time management and being self-driven.
- Alex Lanzetta, a 2018 game software development alumnus, said game design experience is valuable both for his “day job” as a user interface designer at Dreaming Door Studios, a Bloomfield Hills game design firm, and his side gig as a freelance game developer under the moniker Zanzlanz LLC. Lanzetta urged the students to gain confidence by learning new skills on their own. “Just jump into something,” he said. “There are endless resources on the web and here at LTU.”
- Sam Olson, a senior in game design, has been working at Dreaming Door for a year and a half, and also completed an internship at Quicken Loans. Olson said he learned from Quicken that “making money is cool, and doing things you love is cooler. It’s OK to do jobs that aren’t your ultimate goal. Also the corporate world is not always evil, there are cool people there.” From freelancing, Olson said he learned that “You are worth more money than you think. Charge properly, your time is worth money. Set up systems to track your work and time. And return customers rule.” From Dreaming Door, Olson said, he learned that “Your peers are your network. Communication is king. Find a team that you love when you can.” Summing up, Olson said, “Communicate in life and your job. Value yourself and value those around you.”
- Mitchell Warren, a 2018 game art graduate, described his work at NXT Step Technologies, a Southfield-based virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D design company. “Stepping out of your comfort zone is a good thing,” he said. “The soft skills you learn are one of the most important things you can learn. If you work for a public facing company that works with other businesses, you’re going to have to talk to investors and clients. Seek out internships that will stretch your abilities.”
- Jacob Radatz, a 2018 game development graduate, described his work at ImageSoft, where he started as an intern his junior year. He urged students to add a wide variety of skills, even those that might not be directly related to their intended careers. “A manager will choose you over someone with more experience if you can show them you know how to figure something out,” Radatz said. “My manager tells me he’s astounded by the candidates who sound like they are not willing to reach out and try something and fail. My game design experience that I learned in college, that does not have anything to do with my job, is one of the reasons I am so good at my job. Your game classes show you how to go out there and find out things.
The evening concluded with a demonstration of around two dozen student-designed computer games in the LTU Architecture Building’s gallery.
LTU’s game design prowess will be on further display Saturday, April 20, for the LTU Expo, formerly known as the LTU Anime Con and Gaming Expo. The program will feature more than 30 locally developed games, student projects, an art gallery, and numerous computer and tabletop game tournaments, along with musical performances, fandom panels and presentations, cosplay events and contests, vendors, artists and more. For more information, visit www.ltuexpo.com.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists LTU among the nation’s top 5 percent universities for the salaries of its graduates, and US News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice’ education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on LTU’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.