Rudi Vanzin

Rudi Vanzin

MFA, Interactive Media & Game Design '20

SCA's Interactive Media & Game Design Program Page
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Why did you choose SCA? What are you studying?

I'm studying interactive media and game design at SCA, but in reality, I'm learning so much more. I chose SCA precisely for this reason - I wanted a supportive, creative environment with more options and resources than there is time for, where I could develop my  own interests and discover new ones. I'm doing things I never imagined, from writing, to programming, to leading a team, and producing events. Plus, everyone seems to find time to play games in between all the work and projects and I love that, that playfulness. 

What has been your biggest challenge(s) so far in your time here?

I have a bit of an unusual background compared to most of my peers and colleagues - I used to be an archeologist - so one challenge I've faced is adjusting to a new industry with a totally different culture, and playing catch up in terms of technical skills for that industry. Most of my peers have degrees in art,  engineering, or writing and they're all extremely talented. In that respect it took me some time to figure out how to leverage my academic research background. Fortunately, the MFA program in IMGD is designed to accommodate a variety of experience levels and provide a bit of a "crash course" for developing the kinds of skills it takes to make games, so I've learned a bit of everything. That comes with its own set of challenges -- there's so much to learn and it's all fun and interesting, so I have to constantly balance what I'm good at, what's feasible given time constraints, and who I need on my team to fill in those gaps.  

Is there a project you are working (or have completed) that you're especially proud of? 

Yes! My MFA thesis project is a dream I've had for a long time - making a game that represents archeology in a more responsible way than the popular media we usually see, like Lara Croft (Tomb Raider). My team and I are developing a game set on an archeological excavation that features characters you'd really find on a dig and a story based on actual evidence and practice. I aim to demonstrate that real human truths can be just as compelling as the sensational or supernatural archeology fantasies we love. Stay tuned for the demo coming out in May!   

Any advice for prospective students who would like to study in your division?

I think it's important to be reminded that life is cumulative and different experiences, perspectives, and struggles will only make your art better and your contribution to the community more valuable. Sometimes having to work and go to school or an unusual hobby can be wonderful sources of inspiration. Also, say yes to as much as you can because you never know what you'll learn, or who you'll meet!

Is there anything outside of your coursework, such as an internship/project that you've been involved with? How did your work at SCA prepare you for it?

Tons! I fell into some event production, game festivals and the like, and it's been a really rewarding way to put into practice the project management and directing philosophies / skills we discuss in SCA. Moreover, I realized that I had developed the vocabulary to speak with creators and other professionals and I could really understand their projects and needs, which goes a long way for networking too. Another great experience was working for a small games user research company, which is basically the intersection of both my interests - game design and understanding human behavior. I found that I was able to contribute a lot more to my analyses by drawing on the design principles and literacy I've been developing in IMGD.