Who Am I

Me, Amongst Levels I Designed

Me, Amongst Levels I Designed  – Photo was published
in the Marblehead Reporter, “Citizens’ Scholarships ease entry
into uncertain job market“, on Feb 7, 2009.

The Beginnings of A Fascination Gone Addiction

If you are interested in what I’ve done and the games I’ve worked on, the rest of this website and my resume are the places to look. The following is a more personal account of how I found myself happily trapped deep within the framework of game development.

At first, I had no thought of becoming a designer. My main tools were a pencil, the edges and blank pages of notebooks, my old Pentax 35mm camera, and the 4×6 Wacom tablet I got in high school. I lived on Photoshop and the timeline in flash. I’ve always had a love for games. Growing up, I was addicted to solving the puzzles in Myst, and would sit on my father’s lap as he taught me how to “skii” in Tribes and drive around the Rhino tanks in Terra. If you’ve played Terra and ever saw flakk randomly driving in circles or shooting into space, that was probably me…I was 9. However, the thought of actually creating games had never really passed through my mind.

When I was going through the process of choosing a college to attend, I was impressed with, and ultimately choose, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). From what I had heard and read about, it had an awesome Animation department, which was at that time my assumed major. In high school, it was my dream to become a modeler and animator for a company like Pixar, and possibly for some video game company. During my first term at SCAD I attended a Majors/Minors fair, wanting to check out some of the other departments as a minor. Originally, I was thinking about minoring in some type of fine art, either sculpture or drawing. Since I was in second grade until I graduated high school, I took fine art classes at the Acorn Gallery in Marblehead, MA where I grew up. I wanted to continue those teachings during college. As I was reaching the back of the room, I came across a table with several students hovering around playing something on a laptop. Upon a closer look I discovered it to be a small computer game created by some students. I had found the Game Development major table.

A game department at an art school? I had not heard of the department before and I was intrigued. After talking a bit to some of the people behind the table, I went to research about the department a bit. Unlike many game departments I knew about at other colleges, SCAD’s program was not about the programming, but about the art and design side. In the Winter of 2006, I declared a major in Game Development with a minor in Animation, thinking I would probably end up switching eventually. I took my first major class in the Fall of 2006, a term earlier then most students in my year, in order to decide whether or not I wished to remain in the major.

The class I took was just a simple introduction class to Game Development. Throughout the term, we were put in groups to create a board game and a short design document for a digital game. I completely fell in love with the department. During the past few years here, I have working on various projects, trying out any area of a development team which I could find classes for or someone willing to let me experiment a little. I’ve gone from animation and modeling work, to programming, concept artist, game designer, level designer, and I even had some fun getting suited up to do some Motion Capture work. I have worked on 2D and 3D digital games, non-digital board and card games, ARGs, and serious games. With each game I have tried to challenge myself in a different way. Challenges such as: creating a non-violent hero for a role playing, digital game; causing player emotions such as anxiety, survival instinct, anger, and despair; designing a game using randomly chosen game mechanics, patterns, or topics; and building a 3-dimensional, non-digital, boardgame. Throughout this, I have come to really enjoy the design aspect of development.

I graduated in May 2009 with a BFA in Interactive Design and Game Development from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Currently, I am a Casual Game Designer at MobScience. Next year, I am planning on taking a year off to travel around Europe and Asia, because you can only look at pictures for so long.

-Leana