Camper Turned Instructor Designs Award-Winning Game

iD Tech in action

Jonathan is currently a 21-year-old Character Artist in the fast-paced world of video game development. He loves technology for its endless opportunities and flexibility, like how he can make changes and continue tweaking his projects even after they seem finished.

“I enjoy the extensive freedom it gives,” he says. “Video games specifically allow for a lot of adventure and exciting experiences that most other forms of media can’t express; none of that would be possible without technology.”

Gaining Game Dev Skills at iD Tech

Jonathan grew up playing video games, but he says he didn’t know any other kids who were quite as interested as he was. That changed when he attended iD Tech Camps at 11 years old.

“It was hard to connect that games were an actual field that could be a career,” he says. “At iD Tech, I met kids, teenagers, and instructors who all had the same feelings as me, which opened my eyes to those possibilities.”

Jonathan began at iD Tech in 2007, where he took a video game creation course. He spent the following two summers at the same location, taking three courses each year, diving deep into game modding and 3D game design with Unreal Engine. His time at iD Tech taught him not only the ins and outs of video game development, but also the problem solving and critical thinking skills needed to stay on the cutting edge of advancing technology.

Awesome camp instructors were a vital part of making Jonathan’s camp experience memorable. “My instructor always encouraged me and he had a great attitude; it helped motivate me and gave me confidence in my abilities,” says Jonathan.

Going Pro

Jonathan took his passion and new knowledge into college, earning a BFA in Game and Interactive Media Design from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). In the long term, his goal is to be a Senior or Lead Character Artist, but for right now, his focus is on researching and learning as much as he can to prepare for a career in the video game design industry, which is why he’s continuing his education as a grad student at SCAD.

His accomplishments don’t end there. Jonathan and his classmates designed, created, and published a game called Kyon that won third place for Best Gameplay in the 2017 Intel University Games Showcase.

Kyon is a third-person sheep-herding adventure game set in mythological Greece and Sicily. It takes place about halfway through the Odyssey, after Odysseus defeats Polyphemus, and — in this video game version of the myth — scatters Polyphemus’s sheep across the Cyclops’ island. The player, playing as Polyphemus’ dog, must get the sheep back and bring them home before winter.

As Character Artist, Jonathan sculpted and fine-tuned models of the characters before passing them on to the animators and riggers. “My favorite thing about that project was getting to work with a team of individuals to make a game come to life,” Jonathan says. With a three-day turnaround for each character, the pace was intense. “It was incredibly hard work, but it felt good to represent that on stage at the Showcase and come home with a win."

Paying it Forward

While attending graduate school, Jonathan has found one more way to enjoy the freedom of technology — returning to iD Tech as an instructor.

"I wanted to work a job that I knew I could do to the best of my abilities, so I decided the best place for me to go would be iD Tech,” he says. “Being an instructor after being a camper gives me an insight into what campers actually want to learn, which helps me design lesson plans for their needs.”

His advice for campers is to enjoy their experience, take advantage of the opportunities available, and don’t take themselves too seriously.

“Don’t try to be the best or match professional standards yet,” Jonathan says. “Have fun so you don’t grow up hating what you could be loving. Camp is a place you can experience different fields risk-free and choose from your favorites.”

A photo of Aurora

Aurora is a perpetually happy girl whose heart belongs to all things gothy and dark, from Evanescence albums to horror movies to Edgar Allan Poe. She graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in English, focused in Creative Writing, and joined iD Tech in 2015.

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