aabicus Graduation Speech – UCSC Games & Playable Media 2018

aabicus Graduation Speech – UCSC Games & Playable Media 2018

November 30, 2019 6 By Stanley Isaacs


And you all know what I’m talking about. Despite the fact that Nick might say something
you don’t expect, it’s almost always something you needed to hear, and he’s absolutely
genuine about it. I really admire that about you, Nick, and
I’m honored to introduce you as our student speaker, I think it’s very apt you’re
dressed today as a healer…so without further ado Nick Halsey: Thank you MJ Art reflects the culture that creates it. In our rapidly changing world, it’s fitting
that games, our most popular form of entertainment, are shifting faster than anyone can keep up
with. Games from ten years ago look old hat, as
future titles leverage experience and technology to reach never-before-seen heights. Games are constantly pushing the envelope,
and so must we, the people who make them. Luckily, all of the students in this program
typify that mindset. Just look at all you accomplished this year. This master’s program was a lot of work! Seriously, make eye contact with another student,
right now. Just think for a second about how much work
we all did. We finished an entire degree in a year, half
the time Master’s programs normally get. And you didn’t just finish that work, all
of you stepped up and willingly took on more work to reach your peak. Look at Ahmet! Ahmet came to school every single day, weekends
included, and negotiated a complicated web of investors and third-party contracts to
elevate Major League Magic beyond a student project and into a budding eSport. Look at Ben! Ben was an artist driven to also become a
programmer, he learned Unreal scripting in a single quarter even though it wasn’t a
requirement. Or Akshay, Akshay wrote an entire adventure
game outside of his classwork to bolster his writing portfolio. And not every evolution was academic; Miguel
was initially one of the quietest students in the class. We could barely get a word out of him at orientation. But when the Greenlight pitches rolled around,
Miguel recognized that his pitch needed energy, energy that would push him out of his comfort
zone. Not everyone would have the courage to become
Red Bull Miguel on camera, but he did, and thus a legend was born. Not to mention every student who traveled
from a foreign country. All of you who came over here to America and
had to acclimate to our culture and language at the same time as learning game design. That is a huge challenge, and yet everyone
of you succeeded. In fact, every student in this program exhibits
the drive needed to survive and excel in this up-and-coming field. The video games industry is the uncharted
frontier of today, it’s the new Hollywood, and nobody knows where it’s going. How many guest speakers, industry professionals
came in to talk to us, and said the same two things; “the industry has completely changed
since they first entered, and nobody ever knows what’s coming around the corner”. It’s not the environment for everybody,
but it’s the environment for you. You had the courage to blaze your own trail,
you joined an extremely new and untested major, taking the risks that it won’t pay off. Because what’s the point of a game if it
has no risk of failure? Let’s talk about that for a second. Failure. Could I get a show of hands from my fellow
students, how many of you have ever failed at something? Yeah. All of us. And I’m sure you’ve heard before, failure
is the way that you learn and grow, and that’s true. But for us it’s even more than that. Because we make games, and failure is a tool
in our development toolbox. Remember what MJ taught us in the Rapid Prototyping
class very first quarter. Games use failure to teach the player. Every time you get blown up, you learn a little
more about what you should have done to not get blown up. Every failure moves you one step closer to
your goal. And maybe it’s because we consciously orchestrate
that sort of relationship in the games we make, but so many of you took that philosophy
and used it as motivation to try brand new things and build yourself into the multidisciplinary
game developer you always could become. Art, writing, programming, marketing, sound
design…none of us came in with all these skills, but now we can say that we’ve done
every one of them. We now have experience in each of those fields. And even more, we helped each other in each
of those fields. If I had to share the most powerful strategy
I learned through observing my classmates in this program, it’s to value and help
the people around you. So many of you stepped up and shared your
expertise in certain subjects with the rest of us when you could tell we needed it. If I could get a show of hands from the students,
how many of you received coding help from another student at some point in this year? I know Aidan and Chelsea constantly stayed
after class to help me. Or think of when Leo started a side class
just to teach everybody mathematics, because he saw his fellow students were struggling
with that element of coding. How many here benefited from that? Or James Zolyak, how many of our projects
did he help with sound design, even though he was only on the roster for Dash Quasar? Or Fernando, who taught me Photoshop outside
of class, and also completed the logo for Major League Magic because he knew we were
struggling with finding artists. Or Niken, who joined the Mixer project for
the same reason and completed almost all of our 2D art when we needed it most. Or Dan, who setup that server in Spring Quarter
so everybody could learn Jira. Helping others is not only a great way to
get better at whatever topic you’re assisting with, it’s also a chance to form long-lasting
positive connections. It shows that you care about your fellow classmates,
and that through strengthening each other, you strengthen our group as a whole. And that’s what the video game industry
is all about. Think back to the dozens of games we’ve
analyzed this quarter, from the AAA titles to the indie studios to the student projects
we made together. Every one of those teams is full of people
working together to create a product bigger than themself. Honestly, in this day and age I think that
philosophy, of building relationships and seeing the value in each other, is so important. When it’s your job to make fictional worlds,
and fill it with fictional characters for players to relate to, it can be easy to lose
sight of the very real people surrounding us in our day-to-day work. But this is our life, these connections we’ve
made are the ones we’ll carry with us past any given project. We’ll remember how Inkan was always the
first to start cheering after anyone finished a presentation, or the board game events she’d
organize on weekends. We’ll remember how Juan always spearheaded
class trips to Panda Express, In-n-Out, or the Movie theater. We’ll remember Sam and Carry, two of the
most outgoing people in the program who were always available for conversation and who
brought so much excitement and enthusiasm to anything they were working on. And who could forget Pat? I had the pleasure to work with Pat on three
different games, twice when he was creative director and once when he was technical director. All three times, what stood out to me was
how he cared so deeply about ensuring every member of the team had their creative input
incorporated into the project. I just know you’re all going to fit into
this industry. You’ve got the spark, the same drive as
those who came before us, who taught us. Look at how many of these qualities I’ve
described are equally present in our professors, like MJ, Erin, Jim, and Walt, who were always
available outside of classroom and office hours to help us with anything we needed. Look at Bri, who helped everyone she could
with their resumes and job applications. Look at Colin, who always served as our defender
in bureaucratic issues and handled everything about travel for trips outside the campus. Look at the alumni from last year, like Kelsey
and Jake, who showed up when they could and gave us guidance and advice. We’re joining their ranks now, and in the
future it’s going to be our turn to pass that kindness and assistance forward. But for the immediate time being, it’s our
turn to celebrate. Congratulations again to everyone graduating
in the class of 2018, and thank you all for listening.