Class studies video game designer

November 12, 2010 Feature Print Print
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Hironobu Sakaguchi

Many famous video game designers do not have college degrees, but instead started their careers in other ways, such as being a computer program debugger. Hironobu Sakaguchi is one such designer.

Professor Akram Taghavi-Burris’s aspiring game design students explained by way of a slide show why they like their favorite video game producer.

Students each gave a brief overview of their favorite game designer, such as when and where they were born, where they went to college, and what company they were affiliated with in the past and present.

“One of the reasons that they do it,” Taghavi-Burris said, “is because the video game industry is so new. Since the class focuses on the history of video games, there’s only so much that we can pull from the textbooks because there is only about 40 years of information.

“History is being made every day in this industry. So by them going out and doing some research on their own and looking at present day game designers, they are actually writing what will someday be in a history book for video games.”

The aforementioned Sakaguchi was an aspiring electrical engineer who dropped out of college in the early ’80s, said Amber Frantz in her presentation.

Sakaguchi went on to co-found Square with Masafumi Miyamoto as an off-shoot of Denyūsha Electric Company.

After several failed video games, Sakaguchi pooled the rest of Square’s money to create one last game, “Final Fantasy.”

To his surprise, the game was a massive hit in Japan, and went on to become a fan favorite the world over.

Tetsuya Nomura, another designer that is associated with the “Final Fantasy” franchise, was studied by game design student Jessie Shores. Nomura helped create “Final Fantasy 4,” and has worked with Nintendo for the last 15 years, Shores said.

Shores said Nomura’s games are as unique as they are innovative.

“The only thing that he carries from character to character is spiky hair,” Shores said.

Hideki Kamiya was another subject of student scrutiny during the presentation. He was one of the few college graduates, and actually studied game design. He is credited with the creation of “Viewtiful Joe” and “Okami.”

Rob Pardo, game designer and current vice president of Blizzard entertainment, was the presentation choice of Cody Fox, game design student. Pardo was the lead designer for “Starcraft,” “Starcraft: Brood War,” “World of Warcraft,” its expansion “The Burning Crusade,” and many other games.

According to Fox, in an interview with Time magazine, a reporter asked if the success of “World of Warcraft” would hinder other Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game designer’s success.

To this, Pardo replied it would help them. “World of Warcraft” is many people’s first MMORPG and even their first game.

They try it, and they like it, and then they give other MMORPGs a chance, he said.

“Pardo did not create the genre,” Fox said.

“He merely perfected it. He’s a smart, critical thinker that keeps appealing to the masses and keeps everybody coming back for more which is why he is so successful.”

 

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