Q&A with Warren Lindsey, ESA Foundation Scholarship Recipient

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you study?

Warren: I’m a senior in the Savannah College of Art and Design studying interactive design and game development. I have a focus in 3D environment creation and a minor in concept art.

Q: What got you interested in video game design? How did you gravitate towards this field?

Warren: I’ve been passionate about video games for as long as I can remember. I fondly remember making up games to play with my brother growing up and spending much of my childhood in front of my living room T.V. playing video games. At the time, I didn’t know video game design was a career path until I had to write a paper in sixth grade describing what I wanted to be when I grew up. Nothing really stood out except my desire to make video games, but I wasn’t sure about how to go about doing that. My mom helped me out and looked up video game design and creation and we saw that was something you could actually do in life and we were very surprised.

Q: You said you are enrolled in the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and are set to graduate in June. Why did you choose SCAD?

Warren: I heard about SCAD sometime during my sophomore year in high school while my mom and I were looking for possible schools. On a whim my school actually had a SCAD seminar info session and I decided to stop by and see what the school had to offer. I was really starstruck by the whole thing. All the opportunities they had and everything they were talking about made me keep SCAD at the top of my list for the rest of my time in high school. I looked at other art schools as well but SCAD stayed at the top. Looking back, I definitely made the right choice. I’ve learned so much about game design and about the modern interactive industry in general and I’ve had many opportunities to expand my knowledge in the field which has been awesome!

Q: Can you tell us a little about your time in Hong Kong? Did you go there through your program at SCAD? How did the trip influence your work and approach to video game design?

Warren: Going to Hong Kong was a great experience! SCAD has a campus there so students are able to apply and study abroad for a quarter. It definitely influenced my view of the world culturally and it brought me to experience life in a completely foreign way. Working and living there was a different experience for me; having to figure out my commute each day and make sure I got to class on time. I was there for about two and a half months and I was able to be fully immersed in the culture through SCAD and I was able to dive into the technical and gaming culture as well. The city hosts the Global Game Jam which is really cool and I was able to make connections with local developers. Through that networking experience, I was able to work with some of those developers when the Global Game Jam ended and helped them create a VR demo which was really neat.

Q: Have you had any internships during your studies?

Warren: It kind of relates to my Hong Kong experience actually. The developers I mentioned before brought me on to intern for them while I was there. I was brought onto their small team as a 3D artist to help create the VR demo they were going to showcase at the VR Hong Kong event, which was the first VR convention in the city. For the last half of the time I was there, I worked with a small team to create a VR experience for Samsung’s Gear VR.

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

Warren: My mom really helped me out with this one. She’s always been there to support me and help me grow and the hunt for a scholarship was no exception. We came across it and were like “Oh! This is great!” It’s a scholarship that is excellent for people like me who are looking to enter the industry, so when we came across it, we were like this is a perfect fit.

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

Warren: I think reading through it, we believed the scholarship gave me and people like me an amazing opportunity to pursue something we wouldn’t be able to pursue otherwise. It would have been unattainable in the past and it gives me and others like me financial opportunities to get into the industry and do these things which is really something that stood out to me. I was able to use the scholarship to pay off part of my tuition and also to buy art supplies.

Q: What is the first video game you ever played? What is your all-time favorite video game?

Warren: Oh, that’s a tough one! First video game I remember playing was Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo. It’s a constantly debated topic in my mind but I think my favorite video game of all time is Portal from Valve. It always rises to the top. That and the Half Life series were some of the first first-person experiences in games I had. I remember playing Portal one time after school and just like staring at the computer screen when the credits were rolling by and when that wonderful song played, I was completely amazed and immediately restarted the game to play it through all over again! I think Portal is the game I’ve replayed the most and has a special meaning for me.

Q: Are you a PC gamer or do you prefer consoles? Do you remember what your first console was?

Warren: I’m a PC gamer currently but as I mentioned I was originally a console gamer starting off with Nintendo’s NES, then moving to the PlayStation 1, then PlayStation 2, but I got a PC around the time Xbox and PS3 came out. I think I got the orange box for PC which is how I played Portal. I could only play Half Life 2 on my computer at the time because its specs were not up to speed so I spent my birthday gift to buy new parts so I could play the orange box. That’s kind of how I got into PC gaming.

Q: Are there specific areas you specialize in in video game design? Or areas you want to focus on?

Warren: I specialize in 3D environmental art and modelling which is what I focus on predominantly. I realized the thing I loved about video game design was crafting new worlds for people to explore and immerse themselves in, which is the full brunt of what environmental monitoring is: actually making the world people are walking around in. Crafting those little details to set a world apart is what I really enjoy and is what’s really cool to me. Another area I’m really interested in working in is VR and AR experiences. I really believe in those technologies and their ability to affect many facets of human life past entertainment which to me is astounding.

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

Warren: Going back to Hong Kong would be great but my dream, like eye-in-the-sky job is to work for Valve, but that’ll take some more time and experience first. I would love to work in a VR/AR design studio that’s focused on creating VR experiences. Working for an indie studio would be awesome too because I’ve always liked the open work environment and office layout. I watched the Double Fine documentary and it was such a different experience with open work space which stood out to me. Overall though, I don’t have any regional preferences and will go where the games and jobs are.

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

Warren: I would say if you’re looking to enter the game design field, you should first try everything and then choose something you love to do. I think the wonderful thing about working in the video game industry is that it’s like a melting pot of career paths. There’s animation, programming, visual effects, concept and sequential art, cinematography for cutting trailers, there’s UI experience design, character design, sound design, graphic design and so on. There are so many pieces that fall into the puzzle that is creating interactive experience and there are so many paths you can take in the industry.

On the other side however, it’s virtually impossible to do everything yourself and you have to focus on a specific area of game development which is something they always told us at SCAD. You have to focus on something and sell yourself as an expert in that field of game design. It’s very rare that someone does everything which was always hard for me because I always jumped around and wanted to work on many things. When choosing your specialty, the factor that shouldn’t weigh into your decision is how much money you’ll make or how difficult or easy the job is. It should be how much you love doing it. I would recommend holding that decision until you’ve tried everything because you can never know what you might be passionate about. I believe if you’re passionate about something and you love it and you can craft it at a level where you can pull countless all-nighters perfecting your skill and pouring your soul into the craft, it doesn’t feel like work. You’ll find so much more success than if you went to an area that seems more profitable but you have no love for.

If you’d like to know more about Warren’s work, check out the link here.

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