Professor William Novak, M.F.A. leads a unique program in the exploding game industry. Meet four graduating seniors on why they play and their take on what’s next.

LOS ANGELES, CA, May 11, 2019 /24-7PressRelease/ — Cameron Williams is graduating with the Class of 2019 whose senior project is a detailed and impactful video game that helps people identify if they are in an abusive relationship. Will Cunico combined his passion for design and story into a gothic board game that uses an app to guide character strategy. Last year, Rafik Vardanyan completed an internship at industry leader Yacht Club Games. As his classmates, he is wrapping up his studies in the Woodbury University Game Art and Design program. Rafik’s minor is in animation where he designed and animated a complex 2-D game that showcases his specialty in level play. Johnathon Harter created a classic entertainment game for all ages featuring main characters with giant hands that clap their way through a fantasy world.

These young 21 – 25-year-olds are students in a unique Game Art and Design program offered at Woodbury University, one of a handful of gaming courses offered in the United States. Under the leadership of Professor William Novak, M.F. A., the Game curriculum is also one of the fastest growing at Woodbury University attracting student from around the world. Located in Burbank, California, WU is neighbor to The Walt Disney Company, Warner Brothers Studios, and Comcast NBC/Universal.

Interviews were conducted with some of the first graduates of the program this Spring for their perspectives on what gaming means to them and their perspectives on the state of the industry. Cameron Williams has multiple skills in design, animation, Virtual Reality worlds which are demonstrated in his visually-driven games that have impactful non-linear stories. “Game hardware hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years. What has changed is that people are refining the imagery”, Cameron observed. His project ,”Take A Seat” is considered a serious game and addresses the issue of physical and emotional abuse. “Now we have Virtual Reality that can bring in multiple people to an unknown outcome.” Johnathon Harter, creator of “CLAP”, addresses the emotional gap that game play fills. “The activity of gaming itself connects with people that is different from watching a movie that is a spectator activity. Playing a game creates more emotions. I like people to have fun.”

Though Rafik Vardanyan admits that gaming is a great way for people to escape from reality and cope with life, he sees future trends and benefit in the area of education. “Some students don’t want to learn in school. Gaming can teach in ways that traditional teaching can’t. Students can learn about history; some could learn science with games and simulation. What if they wanted to see Abraham Lincoln?” Will Cunico will graduate from the Game Art and Design program in Fall 2019. His bet is gaming will move into a 3-D all-encompassing experience for players. “It is starting to include the integration of modern board games that have embedded technology that interact with an app used by multiple real-life human participants in highly designed worlds.” His senior project is still in progress. Though he chose to keep details confidential, the early renderings were impressive.

Professor William Novak, M.F.A. is a veteran of the game animation industry and responsible for developing the young program at Woodbury University. The Game Art and Design program is in very high demand with student applicants outnumbering seats. “It is a good problem to have so many students trying to get in the program”, commented Professor Novak. “Unfortunately, I wish we could accept all of them. We have plans to expand and are adding instructors.” He added, “We are now graduating some of our earliest students. It’s a great accomplishment for them, their families, and for the school.”

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