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Erika Staud: Undergraduate

What has been your favorite class?

One of my favorite classes I’ve taken so far has been Art 80G, which is a class for the game design major. It’s more of a creative class and we learned how to use design tools like Adobe Illustrator to create a card game that we turned in as our final exam. It was really cool. Learning how to use electronic logos and vectors and typography and more creative stuff was really cool and I really enjoyed it.

The card game I created was called “Sagas.” I wanted the name to be a palindrome because it’s a connecting card game. There were different arrows on each card and you had to race against another person to finish a path the fastest. It was the first time I’d used Illustrator and some of those creative programs and I actually hand drew some of the cards so it was my first time stepping into illustration, which was a new thing for me. I wanted to push outside of my boundaries and spend more time on the creative side of stuff and it was a good balance to the technical stuff I was taking that quarter. We did a lot of testing in sections and being able to do pseudo-research studies and being able to watch how people play the game without giving them instructions, seeing if they’re able to understand the game rules based on what you’ve written and then taking feedback and improving the game and play test again was definitely useful in developing my game design career.

What drew you to this field?

I’ve always had a really creative side. I do a lot of photography and video and I’ve always been into music. I really enjoy 3D animation and 3D visualization. So doing the game design program allowed me to take classes within my major that were more art-focused and gave me a creative outlet in addition to my programming classes. Some of the classes involve creating art by programming. Last quarter, I took an audio game design class, so we created a test game level in Unity where we implemented audio effects with programming. I enjoy the creative side but I also have an interest in technical stuff. I really enjoy problem solving and technical solving, like being able to look at a problem and design it and think about things in a logical way. So for me, computer game design is a nice balance between the two because there’s a technical-based program supplemented by art, so I can pursue both those interests in that major.

What do you like about Baskin Engineering?

Baskin Engineering has a lot of resources and opportunities that I’ve been able to use to help me do better in my classes and be able to succeed, whether it’s visiting professors during office hours or TAs, joining tutoring programs like ACE to get help with classes. I’m part of the Multicultural Education Program (MEP), which is a nice community where I’ve been able to meet people and study with them, I’m the treasurer for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) which is another community that I’ve been able to be a part of.

What do you like to do for fun?

I’m part of a film club on campus so I do a lot of short films. I like cinematography and editing, so I do a lot of short film work on the weekends. I do freelance video and photography work when I can fit it in my schedule. I really enjoy landscape photos and especially night photography. I’ve done astrophotography where I set my camera up for ten to thirty minutes, depending on how bright it is outside and the camera captures the milky way and the stars. So it’s almost like technical-based photography because it’s a little bit more planning and knowing what your aperture or other camera settings are. I really enjoy timelapse stuff. So that’s another way I mix technical and creative stuff. I always like to challenge and be challenged in whatever medium I’m using.

What kind of video games do you enjoy?

One video game I enjoyed growing up was Pokémon Ruby. It was the first game that I really played all the way through and spent hours exploring on my GameBoy. And that interest is something I’ve carried with me into my academic career. And now there’s Pokémon Go, which uses augmented reality (AR) to take the immersive effects of video games to another level. It’s taking the virtual reality (VR) experience but augmenting it to apply it to the real world. That seems like the next direction because VR only immerses people within a digital screen. People are trying to blend the virtual and the real because there’s a lot of negative connotations to just virtual, with people getting into tech and being more closed off from each other. So I think augmented reality is a pretty interesting concept and something I’d be interested in exploring more because it’s foundation is in the real world which I think is important for real connections instead of only within virtual friendships and connections.

In what direction do you foresee AR headed?

In VR, there are a lot of trainings that have been created, which is cool because it’s a good way to practice medical procedures, for example, rather than to practice on a real person. I think the next step within AR would be doing sort of training displays on the real life subjects. So, say a surgeon was performing something. They could have things projected on top of the patient that would help them perform the surgery. Or say you’re playing a musical instrument. You could have music notes above your head or you could read music in front of you. That’s sort of like integration of current VR which would help more in real life situations.

Computational Media
Degree Program: 
B.S., Computer Game Design
Place of Birth: 
San Jose, California
Undergraduate Institution: 
UC Santa Cruz