Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019
Wil Lindsay brings passion for game design to one of Rider's newest programs
by Rachel Stengel '14
Wil Lindsay remembers the first video game he ever made. After hours of reading programming how-to books from Radio Shack and hunching over his family's bulky 1980s TRS-80 Color Computer, he had a fully functioning, arcade-style game. Though it was far from today's high-definition graphics and comprehensive story lines, Lindsay was hooked.
Now, the program director for Rider's new game & interactive media design major, Lindsay helps students funnel their passion into a profession.
"Video games don't just appeal to one type of person," he says. "We've seen the ways they infiltrate popular culture through their immersive storytelling and music. Sometimes we change the technology and sometimes the technology changes us."
There's a reason why most children know the dances from Fortnite and why Snoop Dogg is on the soundtrack for Madden 20; video games are surpassing Hollywood and the music industry combined, with $140 billion in revenue worldwide, according to the Electronic Software Association, the trade association of the video game industry in the United States.
Housed in the School of Fine and Performing Arts, Rider's game & interactive media design major provides students with the foundational tools for game design and allows them to customize their studies to focus on specific areas of interest such as audio and music for game design, storytelling, graphics and animation.
"Game design is truly an interdisciplinary world," Lindsays says. "It's the computer science and art worlds coming together. Students will have the ability to tap into both the analytical side of game design and the creative side."
Students in the program work in a studio-based and project-based atmosphere where constructive critiques are commonplace. They create playable prototypes in interdisciplinary teams dedicated to game design, storytelling and music in the new Fine Arts Digital Media Lab.
Game design goes beyond video games, Lindsay says. The same principles can be applied to board games, phone games and games designed for educational purposes. One of Lindsay's research interests is a field called the gamification in education.
"When we look at games designed to help children learn, there's a reward component to them," he says. "Children may be more motivated to learn a concept if it is tied into a game such as earning virtual badges every time you correctly complete a level or having a leaderboard that shows them how they are progressing."
Lindsay has been teaching game design since 2007 at the college level. Outside the classroom, he remains a practicing artist. He has showcased his work in more than 40 gallery exhibitions and live media performances. He has contributed to developing escape rooms, a large-scale interactive display for the release of a new Nike sneaker and a 14-foot game for the Texas Rangers' ballpark, Globe Life Park, among other game-inspired creations. Lindsay has also been an artist in residence at Beta Locale in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and The Hacktory in nearby Philadelphia.
He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Arts from The University of Arizona and a Master of Fine Arts in Integrated Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Lindsay is also the founder of StrayTechonologies, a company that creates custom interfaces for electronic media artists and musicians, including DIY game kits, synthesizer kits and media controllers.