The Architecture of Game Design

Cameron Williams, a fourth-year Game Art & Design student, is keeping it all in the (Woodbury) family, in a manner of speaking.

While continuing to work toward his degree, Cameron began honing his skills as a contracted HoloLens developer at IR Architects, a forward-looking architecture firm founded by Woodbury alum (and newly-appointed trustee) Ignacio Rodriguez. A committed game designer within the School of Media, Culture & Design, Cameron is creating applications for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) that service specific architectural models. It’s a sterling example of how, at Woodbury, disciplines intersect and interact.

Disciplines and classmates. Cameron partnered with Craig Tolliver, a fraternity brother in Delta Sigma Phi and a Woodbury alum, who had previously worked in architecture/game art. “I had done some programming in JavaScript as well as Unreal Engine 4 Blueprint, so I took that expertise to the Hololens and we collaborated to create an AR experience,” Cameron says. “It took a few months to realize the vast scale of what we were creating, which is when we decided to form AVR Studio in partnership with IR Architects.” As creative director at AVR Studio, he leads a team of other Woodbury Game Art & Design student employees, and currently is hip-deep in product development.

“While I have definitely learned more about the production process and what it means to create a game within the full pipeline, my biggest take-away from the Game Design program within MCD has been on the programming side,” he says. “I spent a lot of time working on game art and design in high school and it actually helped establish my career, since I started off as an environment artist. Ultimately, I realized I really love the narrative behind video games, so getting a chance to design the worlds and stories became more appealing to me.”

That orientation served him well during E3 in June, when he worked with faculty member, Alan Flores, to showcase the adjunct Game instructor’s Drums of War at the L.A. Convention Center.  “There’s a huge difference between attending E3 and exhibiting there,” Cameron says. “I loved getting to see the industry from such a different perspective, especially witnessing how passionate game developers are about their creations. Some people are under the impression that developers are out for money or aren’t interested in developing innovative products, but E3 really showed how inaccurate that may be sometimes and just how much people love what they do in this incredible industry.”

As if his final year in college and the AVR Studio gig weren’t enough, Cameron’s also working on an unnamed project as a creative director, producer, programmer and coordinator, with hands- on direction of motion-capture, voice-over and scriptwriting.

“There are a ton of factors that make for the ‘ultimate’ game, but the fundamental rule for any game is to have fulfilling content,” he says. “Too many games have content that delivers more of a toned-down experience. Every aspect of a game’s development should be done with care, and no aspect should be neglected.”

Given his immersion in the industry, Cameron understands the perspectives of both consumer and creator. “I’d love to see companies interact more with their player-base rather than making publisher-centric decisions that could be harmful to their own community,” he says. “It’s definitely possible for people to miss the point of a certain game, or for projects to miss the mark, but I believe that all game designers are out there to develop something they’re individually passionate about. What’s great about the games industry is that there’s something out there for everybody.”

Learn more about the Game Art & Design program