Q&A with ESA Foundation Scholar Tré Lannon

The ESA Foundation spoke to its 2017-18 scholarship recipient Tré Lannon, who just completed his first semester at the University of Southern California (USC). Growing up in Colorado, Tré developed a passion for video games, which prompted him to pursue a career in video game development. Read the Q&A to learn more about his experiences at USC, what the scholarship meant to him, and what type of video games he wants to make after he graduates.

Edited for brevity, not content.

Q:What sparked your interest in video game development?

A:I found that I had a deep enjoyment of playing video games, like one that could guide me forward. What sparked me to pursue game development specifically was that I found out I had an aptitude for computer science, programming, and pretty much anything technological. I found great enjoyment in all these pursuits, and when the time came to choose my major, I thought computer science was a good idea and I realized why not make games with that degree.

Q:Why did you choose the University of Southern California (USC)? Are there specific programs that attracted you to the school?

A:Like a lot of ambitious high school seniors who want to go to the best schools for what they’re trying to pursue, I Googled the best design schools and noticed USC was on most of the lists. From there, I looked deeper into the program to find out more information and found that it was the right fit for me. The location and the course rigor were excellent, so I thought this would be the perfect place for me.

Q:Is there a class you took at USC that stood out as exciting or impactful?

A:One of the first classes you take here as a computer science games major - as far as game design goes - is Intro to Interactive Entertainment which I really enjoyed. It has really helped me think in a different mindset and encouraged me to learn more about the industry. It teaches you to understand how things work, specifically what makes a game. It asks you to define the parameters of a game by asking what a game is. What makes a game intriguing? What makes people want to play your game? I’ve learned a lot from that class. I really like learning about what I can do and what makes a great game.

Q:How did you get involved with the ESA Foundation scholarship?

A:I was searching the internet for scholarships for computer science and video game design because I really needed the financial backing to attend a school like USC and came across the ESA Foundation scholarship. This was one of the scholarships that consistently popped up on the sites I was researching and I thought this is the one for me. It fit my needs, so I applied and was very surprised I was selected!

Q:What did the scholarship mean to you and how have you used it?

A:This scholarship meant so much to me because without it I don’t think I would have been able to afford my education. It gives me and my family security to know that I will have an enjoyable and less worrisome experience to pursue a degree in game development, something I’m really passionate about that I hope to make into a promising career.

Q:Where do you see yourself working after you graduate? Is there a company or region you’d like to work in?

A:After I graduate I’d really like to work for Naughty Dog because I think they make really cool games. I personally enjoy their narrative games better because they’re geared more towards controllers, and the types of games they make are the ones I enjoy playing and it would be really cool to make those types of games.

Q:What kinds of video games do you see yourself developing?

A:I think in the future I want to make games that inspire people or that are really thought-provoking. There are lots of games that people get attached to whether it be for the characters, the gameplay, or the setting, and people really enjoy the time they play them. They’re the types of games people talk about after they finish them because they’ve made an impact. Those are the types of games I want to make.

Q:What is your favorite video game of all time?

A:That’s a hard one! I’m personally a fan of the Dragon Age series. I really like Inquisition, and Origins was also very good. The plots are very deep and interconnected and I like how all the games are intertwined with how your game will turn out. In Inquisition especially, I like how the choices you make in-game have an effect on the ending of the game. I like games that have decisions and choices that you can see the results in-game.

Q:Do you have any advice for other ESA Foundation scholars or people who want to study video game design?

A:As far as the advice I’d give to people who are interested in studying video game design, I’d say know what it is that you need to be successful. When I started, I thought “who wouldn’t want to make video games” and didn’t understand how much goes into their creation. It’s a lot of work, and as far as coding the game goes, it’s a lot of math, physics, and linear algebra, which are really important skills to getting started. It’s really important to excel in these skills if you want to do well and create best-in-class games.

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