Faculty Spotlight with Joe Shoopack (Game Development)

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We are less than two weeks from Global Game Jam 2018 and this year is gearing up to be one for the record books! For this month’s Faculty Spotlight we interviewed one of our Game Development instructors, Joe Shoopack, in honor of the upcoming Global Game Jam. Joe has a lot of passion for gaming and enjoys teaching the next generation of great game developers! Thank you to Joe Shoopack for giving us an awesome interview!!

If you’re interested in the Global Game Jam there’s still time to register!
Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the only Game Jam in San Diego for 2018!

  1. Joe, what was the first video game that you bought; why did you choose that one?

The first game bought for me was PONG for the home television system in 1975. The first console game I bought for myself was the Sega Genesis Mickey’s Castle of Illusion in 1990. It was a really creative platform featuring a level that flipped upside down and had some very cool looks to the levels.

  1. Name some of your top five favorite game releases in the past ten years. What makes a game noteworthy for you?

I would have to say, The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinity, and Cuphead are three standouts I’ve really enjoyed playing since they were released. I like to feel completely immersed in a world, and all three of those games accomplish that in different ways.

  1. Are there any upcoming game releases that you are looking forward to?

I’m waiting for the release of The Last of Us II.

  1. What retro game would you like to see brought back for a modern console?

Rather than seeing an old game brought back, I’m more excited to see the emergence of interest in creating 2D sprite and tile mapped games. It’s been referred to as the Hi-Bit Era: 16-bit style games utilizing the wide screen and higher resolution, like Owlboy from D-Pad Studio.

  1. What drew you to making Game Development and Design your career?

I loved art and arcade games, and when I graduated from Brigham Young University in 1985 with a degree in Illustration, game careers for artists were just starting to become a viable possibility, so I naturally gravitated to doing art for games.

  1. Can you share some of your experience in becoming a game developer and what you are currently doing in the field?

I first started working on Atari 7800 and Sega Genesis Games at Blue Sky Software in San Diego. These were small development teams, so you had the opportunity to do both art and level design as an artist.  I worked there for about 5 years and contributed to Jurassic Park, World Series Baseball, a Ren and Stimpy game, The Little Mermaid and a bunch of others. After that I started working at Sony and worked on Gameday ’99 (a football game for the PC). I then moved over to a spin off company of Sony, called Sony Online Entertainment.  At Sony Online I worked on some very fun Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games like Star Wars Galaxies and EverQuest 2.  I then became a Development Director for Art and started working in a broader capacity with all the games and artists at the company on games like DC Universe Online, Planetside 2, H1Z1, etc. I left in 2016 to work on an independent project and to start an adjunct teaching career.

Joe Shoopack Game Development Faculty Quote Coleman University

  1. What brought you to Coleman University to teach?

I started a professional mentor program when I worked at Sony Online that partnered with a local college where I visited classes and advised on student projects and portfolio development.  I really enjoy interacting with students and helping them get started in the game industry, so I started teaching as an adjunct professor.

  1. Any advice for potential and current students looking to make Game Development a lifelong career?

My biggest piece of advice is: be willing to work on anything and be one of the people that volunteer to do whatever it takes to get a game done, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone.

  1. What’s the gaming industry in San Diego like? Is it a growing industry?

It’s pretty stable; although some larger companies have come and gone over the last 20 years. Amazon just opened a San Diego Studio this past year and I’m sure they’ll be growing. Also there are a lot more small independent developers now, which means there will be more pathways to enter the field of Game Development.

  1. Are you involved in the Global Game Jam? Or planning to attend or create a team?

I will be attending Global Game Jam, most likely as a resource visiting and helping out different teams.

  1. Why are events like Global Game Jam important for Game Development students?

It gives you an opportunity to meet some really creative peers and mentors and it’s an excellent opportunity to test your creative and development skills against a tight deadline while having lots of fun!

  1. What are some hobbies, outside of gaming, that you enjoy in your spare time?

Whenever I go on a road trip I take photos of old “roadside America” attractions that have been abandoned or are off the beaten path.  I especially like finding dinosaur and prehistoric animal sculptures. (See attached.)

 

If you are interested in learning more about our Game Development program and the opportunities available for you here in San Diego, give us a call today at (858) 499-0202 and schedule a free tour! 

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