Marguerite Dibble wasn't one to wait until after graduation to find her dream job. With assistance from her professors and a great deal of vision and hard work, she founded Birnam Wood Games while still a senior at Champlain College. Staffed entirely by Champlain students, Birnam Wood released its first game to the public months before Marguerite graduated.
"The Bring Your Own Business (BYOBiz) program was always there for advice and making connections. Every faculty member I know constantly asked, 'How can I help?' I participated in Champlain's annual Elevator Pitch contest in 2011 and won first place, which came with a $500 prize that I spent on business expenses." "I really liked the attitude of Champlain, that it's all about developing professionally. I applied for early admission and got in. It's exactly what I wanted. I only really wanted to go to Champlain. I loved the team dynamic. I felt like I was actually working in a game studio when I came to school every day."
Marguerite, Game Art & Animation majorLandgrove, VTDIVISON OF COMMUNICATION & CREATIVE MEDIA
Sean uses his take charge attitude to build a strategy for success in his education and his future. "Being at Champlain has helped me develop that strength."
"My work-study job at Champlain's Career Services Office as a student assistant has been an important learning experience. I schedule meetings, help with web seminars, host meet-and-greets, prepare for internship fairs and help students find resources in their job-searching process. I like being the one who helps everyone else get things done. Game designers have to know a little bit about everything: art design, programming, character, story line development and more. I want to be an asset to a game development team and help them feel proud of their work."
Sean, Game Design majorBronx, NYDIVISON OF COMMUNICATION & CREATIVE MEDIA
In his teens, Daniel wrote the program and designed the interface for a simple game based on the board game Mastermind. "That's when I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in game development," he says.
Daniel was offered several tuition-free opportunities at well-known schools, but "turned them down in a heartbeat because they didn't have the top-down, Upside-Down [Curriculum] model for teaching," he explains. "At Champlain, I was able to go right into a major that just doesn't exist other places."
Daniel took advantage of the opportunities offered by the Emergent Media Center,working on a project to teach information literacy and on a virtual worlds business management tool for IBM. Less than a month after he graduated, Daniel started as a technical game designer at Gameloft, a leading global publisher of digital and social games located in Montreal, Canada.
Daniel '11, Game Designer, GameloftB.S. in Electronic Game and Interactive Development (Design)Certificate in Business ManagementMontreal, Quebec, Canada
What drew me to Champlain was the atmosphere of the campus, as well as the excellent Game Art & Animation program. I've loved video games for a long time, and I decided very young that I wanted to make games. It was a childhood dream that I stuck with through thick and thin, getting me to where I am today. The opportunities I have been given and the knowledge I have gained are something I will always be grateful for. In particular, my production classes for the Game Studio taught me how to work on a team of vastly different people, all working towards the same goal.
Working at the Emergent Media Center was the first place where I worked as a game artist in a team environment on a creative product during my first year. It was an eye-opening experience that very quickly showed me how hard I would have to work in my career, but it was also great to watch the more experienced artists and learn from them. My skills learned in the Game Studio have prepared me for entering the industry, and I am confident that I will one day have the job of my dreams because of that. My experiences in multiple internships also prove to game studios that are considering me for employment that I am able to work in a production environment.
Desiree was also the Lead Artist for SunBots, a senior game which was recognized for Excellence in Art Direction at the 2014 RPI GameFest.Desiree, Game Art & Animation MajorGranby, MADIVISION OF COMMUNICATION & CREATIVE MEDIA
I was originally enrolled in Champlain's Education program. I still really like to teach, but it just didn't work for me. I had made friends that were a part of Champlain's game program and they were learning so many cool things. I knew I wanted to be involved in the game community and I had always really liked games, so at the end of my first year I switched into the Game Programming major. There have definitely been no regrets. Game Programming was the right move.
My experience in the program has always been really intense and every semester seemed like the hardest semester I've had, but it's fun! There's a feeling of unity in the program when you're working with other game majors, like artists, producers and designers. Being a part of an integrated program like that, where everyone has their own specialty and you're the only programmer on the team, is really cool because you get to apply all the skills you've learned on a realistic project. You also get to play a unique role, learn your teammates roles and maybe even learn some skills from them. During my senior year, I worked as part of a senior team to make a final game and presented it at ArtsRiot. It was all we wanted as game developers-we had a game, and everyone was playing it. It was a great final experience at Champlain.
As a sophomore, Jack co-founded Team Aurora Games, LLC. He published a beginner's guide to OUYA game development before graduation.Jack, Game Programming MajorMontpelier, VTDIVISION OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & SCIENCES
When I applied to Champlain, I was undeclared and trying to decide between game design and writing. I decided to enter the Game Design program and thought I would make the best game in the world. I soon realized that I don't necessarily think like a designer and switched into the Management of Creative Media program, allowing me to make games by being a game producer and leading a team. I liked that the program wasn't just a game design degree, but a business degree, too, which gave me some flexibility.
When I first started being a game producer, I was terrified, but all my experience in Champlain's Game Studio has really taught me what I'll be doing in the workplace. I believe in trial by fire, and I've learned how to survive that fire by honing my skills and learning what works and what doesn't, as well as what I should be doing and what I need to do the next time around. Each project I've done has gotten better from the experience.
Now, I'm comfortable going into a lot of different scenarios and being a leader and producer. Even more than that, I've learned who I want to be as a game developer and know that I want to make games that give people ideas. That's where I think games become as powerful as they can be and can help change the world. That's where I want to grow in my career.Ian, Management of Creative Media MajorGame Management SpecializationFulton, NYROBERT P. STILLER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
I decided I wanted to be a game artist in my last year of high school. I had experience with art and I enjoyed video games, so I thought why not put the two together? I chose Champlain based on a combination of the school size, location and the game cohort.
At Champlain, I worked with the Emergent Media Center, which gave me more insight into the workings of game studios and how to manage collaborating with different teams. It helped to have critiques every week from someone outside of the game team and also from our clients, who had little to no game experience and could give me valuable insight into the art I was creating. My semester abroad in Montreal was also invaluable in giving me a feel for what a games industry city was like and visiting game studios.
In my junior year, I had the opportunity to intern at Mission Critical Studios, where I did concept and in-game art for a 2D iOS game. My internship helped give me an inside look at what it's like to work in a smaller company and what skills I needed to improve to better fit that role. These experiences and my production classes gave me confidence about entering the job market. I'm able to say that I've created games before and know the pipelines for common game industry work practices.
Liznel was also a character artist for SunBots, a senior game which was recognized for Excellence in Art Direction at the 2014 RPI GameFest.Liznel, Game Art & Animation MajorNorth Plainfield, NJDIVISION OF COMMUNICATION & CREATIVE MEDIA
When I first came here, the Management of Creative Media program didn't exist. I wanted to get into video games, making levels or narrative, which is why I enrolled into Game Design.
Sophomore year, I heard Champlain had this new major. It would allow me to be more of a team manager, or coach, and that sounded like what I actually wanted to do. I liked keeping all the communications between the team members together, figuring out when we could meet and defusing situations if we had clashing personalities—I really liked being a mediator. I was able to use all of these skills during my Capstone, which was really rewarding. It's the closest I got to having real studio experience as an undergraduate. I dealt with a team of eight to twelve people, and as a Management of Creative Media major, I did all the coordination. I wasn't the boss, but a leader.
It's very real-life experience and hopefully what I'll be doing when I get into the industry. The opportunity to apply my skills has made me feel like I'm a lot more level-headed, and I am able to handle certain situations better. I'm not sure how Champlain could've prepared me more.David, Managment of Creative Media MajorGame Managment SpecializationEast Aurora, NYROBERT P. STILLER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
What I've liked most about Champlain's Game Studio is the strong integration of team-based projects in the curriculum. You learn about the ups and downs of a production environment where you are constantly relying on other people, the importance of communication skills, and the ability to prioritize and manage your time well. You gain these soft skills, which are necessary for seeing any project through to completion. At the same time, you learn how to use different programs, like Autodesk Maya, CrazyBump, ZBrush and Unity3D, while practicing a wide variety of techniques to create realistic, game style-objects and hand-painted, more stylized environments.
Throughout my time at Champlain, I studied abroad in Montreal for both semesters of my junior year, was an assistant artist at Codename Games in Los Angeles over a summer, and attended the Montreal International Game Summit for three years. I also attended the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco during my senior year, thanks to a scholarship through the College. I've done everything I possibly can to be in a good position to get hired after graduation.
Lucas was hired as a 3D environmental artist for Torn Banner Studios in Toronto, Canada, the summer after he graduated.
Lucas, Game Art & Animation '12South Londonderry, VTDIVISION OF COMMUNICATION & CREATIVE MEDIA
I've always been really interested in video games, but I didn't know where I could fit into the game industry. I originally came to Champlain as a Game Design student, but all the types of design and programming weren't for me.
When I looked at what it was about my classes that I liked, it was working in the small groups and being part of a collaborative team. One of my professors used a metaphor to describe the producer in a team, saying they are the grease that keeps the cogs in motion, and that really resonated with me. I transferred into the Management of Creative Media program with a specialization in Game Management before the end of my first year.
My experience as a producer has been great. I had no confidence when I came into Champlain just because I had no idea what I was doing. I've learned so much about how to create an efficient group and team dynamic, and I'm gaining a grasp of what I'll be doing in my future career.
During his junior year, Patrick also studied abroad in Montreal where he interned with Vandal Games.
Patrick, Management of Creative Media MajorGame Management SpecializationMarshfield, MAROBERT P. STILLER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
Video games have been my life since I was a little kid. I'd play video games, listen to video game music, and learn hundreds of fun facts about games. When I was much younger I'd get frustrated at certain points in games, but as I got older that frustration led to analyzing.
Champlain was the first college to contact me, and they sent me information specifically about their Game Design program. The upside down curriculum really caught my eye along with the dedicated major. When I visited the campus, I knew I wanted to come to Champlain.
I've loved my experience in the Game Design program. I learned a good amount of history and began working in teams as soon as I started. During my third year, I studied in Montreal and it was my best semester so far. I learned so many things not only about my field, but also the industry itself and what it's like to actually live as someone working in it. Now, as a senior, I'm with a team of people that I've connected with and we're working on a project we're all passionate about. I'm thoroughly excited to continue working on it and see where it goes.
Finishing college is a very scary thing, but with the communication skills, resource locating methods and team experience I've gained from Champlain, I'm confident that I can fulfill whatever role an employer needs me to do.
Carlos, Game Design MajorWoodbourne, NYDIVISION OF COMMUNICATION & CREATIVE MEDIA
I was always interested in games because they were a big part of my life growing up. When I got to high school, I took Web Animation, where I learned gaming theory and Action Script II programming. I got really interested in how screwing up one little thing could make the entire thing not work.
For college, I started looking at Game Programming majors, and I'm definitely glad that I ended up here. All of my game teachers have been really supportive of me being in Game Programming and being a girl in the field. Everything I've done in my classes, I know I'll use in the future.
I'm really excited for Game Production I & II because I feel like that's when I'll first learn what I can really do. I'm also excited for my Capstone and being able to make a game with a set budget. I'll get to see what it will be like when I start making a game for myself. I can't wait to experience that and see if this is the right industry for me.
Kelly, Game Programming MajorDumont, NJDIVISION OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & SCIENCES
Champlain's was the first letter I got that was specific to me and my interests. The College thought I might be interested in their Game Design Program, and after looking at Champlain online, I went to the Open Houses. I realized how wonderful the faculty and staff here were. It didn't feel like phony smiles; it felt like everyone really wanted to be here, and it was encouraging. The success rate in terms of students getting into jobs in their fields was incredible, and the College's Upside-Down Curriculum stood out to me. I'd be jumping into my major right away. Champlain seemed to have the whole package deal.
It was scary going into Game Programming at first. I didn't study programming in high school, but I really liked math. My calculus teacher was pushing me toward a major with a programming angle. I was involved in game clubs in high school, so when I discovered Champlain, I took a leap of faith. I have no regrets.
I've learned so much in a short period of time. I'm just really grateful for the skillset I've gained, and I can only imagine the skillset and knowledge I'll acquire over four years. No matter what I do in my future, I'm proud of the work I've done here.
Mary, Game Programming MajorNiantic, CTDIVISION OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & SCIENCES
When I was applying to Champlain, I was interested in the game programs in general. I picked Game Programming because I like computers, but it was too much. I'm not a really big hands-on person, and being a programmer meant I had to be very hands-on.
As a manager or producer, I'm around it instead. It's more my style. I switched into the Management of Creative Media program, and it's great. I really like the team management and business classes. Accounting is my favorite subject, but I wanted to stay in the industry. This program is my way of doing both; I can learn accounting and apply it to the game field. I can't wait to manage a game. I think it's going to be one of my favorite experiences in college.
The experiences that Champlain gives through extracurricular activities, like the EMC, will allow me to get actual experience in what I want to do so I know what to expect before I enter the job force, and I will have a big portfolio to show future employers.
Atiba, Management of Creative Media MajorGame Management SpecializationPowder Springs, GAROBERT P. STILLER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS