Love of Gaming = Rewarding Careers 

April 14, 2020

VINCENNES, Ind. – It pays to play! Gaming is a multibillion-dollar industry. Reports are showing that now, more than ever video games are being played at record levels due to the coronavirus outbreak. Vincennes University students and faculty aren't just playing games, they are creating them. This also means creating lucrative business opportunities and careers in the video game world.  

One of the games created by VU faculty and students is called 'Pearls of Wisdom' for ages 2-10 and it is available on major app stores. The game is free to download and it will take you on a fun learning adventure! Faculty and students are working together to create and launch more new games and say they are excited about the opportunities awaiting VU graduates.

Mariah Pearison is an avid gamer, who is expanding her passion for gaming by tapping into her talent and creativity to craft remarkable experiences for other gamers. “When I first heard about Pearls of Wisdom, I was ecstatic to know that I could be a part of this creation,” Pearison said. “I studied the app and asked myself what would be a good addition.

Mariah Pearison, Student

"It’s not every day you get to say, ‘I worked on a game that’s on the app store. Check it out,” she said.

VU professors Newton Lee and Jaci Lederman are co-founders of the gaming company, Creative Wisdom Games. They started the company as a vehicle to showcase students’ game design skills.

 

                    Professor Newton Lee and Roy E. Disney

 

Lee developed more than 100 video games as a senior producer and lead engineer for the Walt Disney Company, including the popular playtesting and installation of Toontown Online. Toontown, which launched in 2003, was a groundbreaking multiplayer game that enjoyed a worldwide fan base for over a decade.

Lee and Lederman collaborated with Information Technology students to create the app, Pearls of Wisdom: Chloe’s Adventure, which is available on Google Play and the App Store. The game follows the journey of Chloe the Clam as she visits places around the world to learn where pearls come from and collects pearls of wisdom, wise quotes reflecting on life, kindness, and other subjects that impart wisdom.

Jaci Lederman, Professor and IT Chair

“You click on Chloe and you collect pearls,” Lederman said. “Then every so often you get a pearl of wisdom. You collect these pearls of wisdom and Chloe travels around to different locations on a map. You can go to places like Mexico and the pearls of wisdom are in Spanish.”

Lee’s students are currently working on a new edition of the app. It’s a unique opportunity. They’re developing mini-games, a subgame within the game, 3D models, and animated graphics that meet industry standards.

“We can show the students the actual process of designing, creating, deploying, and marketing a game,” Lee said. “It’s not just show and tell. They get involved in the whole process.”

 

Jaden Pfoff, Student

That’s what excites students like Pearison, a South Knox High School senior who is enrolled in the course, and Jaden Pfoff, a VU Graphic Design major.

“I find it personally accomplishing that I am able to work with talented individuals who are providing a wonderful service to my community and around the world,” Pfoff said. “I am gaining important knowledge and technical skills that will better shape my career path towards the future.”

The new app is centered on Chloe and her friend, Olivia the Oyster, and is expected to be completed by the end of the semester.

"As a creator, you are constantly trying to view your game from different perspectives," Pearison said. "You try to view your game as all the different players would.  Knowing that something I create could be made available to everyone would be an honor. I grew up playing games, and they became a main activity of mine. Just the thought that I could give that experience to others is payment enough. Another benefit is that I can put this on my resume.”

Real-world experience is what employers want. Students can boast they’ve earned credit on a game that is available on major app stores.

“Employers want to see what they have done outside the classroom,” Lee said. “Not homework, but actual work. Companies are making commercial products. They don’t care about homework assignments. They care about commercial products. The fact that you have commercial game products gives you a much better chance of getting a job or interview.”

There are millions of gamers online and VU students can brag that their app is out there for anyone who is anywhere in the world to play.

"This opportunity is very exciting for our IT students," College of Business and Public Service Dean Anna Miller said. "There is not a better teacher than real-life experience. I know opportunities like this will enhance a student's opportunity for job placement and will give them confidence in their search for employment."

Students in web design courses also assisted in creating the Creative Wisdom Games website.

Their resumes also stand out in other ways. VU students and professors are in the process of publishing more than 20 articles in the Encyclopedia of Computer Graphics and Games published by Springer Nature, a premier academic publisher for more than 200 Nobel Prize winners in medicine, physics, chemistry, and economics. Lee is the editor-in-chief, while Lederman is the academic co-chair.

Lee and Lederman also have a project in the works that will open up the creative process to everyone in the world who is a gamer. They plan to make a call out for submissions, then they’ll create a game for all ages.

“Instead of having us create all the games, we want to ask all the gamers, ‘What kind of game do you want to make? Let’s put together a game with your animation, your assets, and anything you can provide,” Lee said.

Lederman expects the final product to be wacky and crazy because everyone is probably going to submit every different type of asset or animation.

Lee adds, “It’s fascinating because it promotes collaboration and a sense of community.” That’s exactly what the world needs right now.


Vincennes University Newsroom

MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports Information Director

 812-888-4164 office, 314-599-1519 cell, VUNews@vinu.edu, mmartinez@vinu.edu

VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom

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