Degree Program: Serious Games, M.S.
Graduate Institution: UC Santa Cruz
Undergraduate Institution: UC Santa Cruz
Department: Computational Media
Amber Sargeant is a recent graduate of UCSC’s Serious Games M.S. program. Amber earned her undergraduate degree in computer science: computer game design from UCSC’s Baskin School of Engineering in 2020 before joining the Serious Games M.S. program. Her internships as a graduate student focused on serious game design using the Unity game engine, through which she honed her skill sets in C# and C++. She is also experienced in HTML and CSS, having supported the development of the Educational Opportunity Program’s website as an intern.
What led you to pursue an M.S. in Serious Games?
I wanted to get an M.S. in serious games because I want to make games that explore topics important to me, such as climate change and mental health. I think these topics need more recognition in the media, and what better way to show it than through interactive media? Serious games have the ability to instill knowledge and enforce important topics while still being engaging, which is what makes them different from other types of games. They help develop new and interactive ways for individuals to learn about a particular topic creatively.
What was the most exciting project you worked on as an M.S. student?
The most exciting project I worked on as an M.S. student was Birth from Fire, a VR game that is dedicated to invoking a meditative experience while also teaching the player the ancient technique of copper smelting in Timna Valley. It is a cyber archaeology game that explores the relationship between copper smelting, shamanism, and goddess cults in the Bronze Age Levant region of Israel. In this game, players wear a VR headset and use a blowpipe controller to play. Through your interaction (dialog) with the mentor, you learn about ancient Egyptian history, the (meditative) smelting process, and shamanic deities. The mentor will guide you through the smelting of 3 shamanic symbols. I was the technical director and programmer for this project, and also aided in data research and overall game design. I had a wonderful time collaborating with the team, instructors, and the stakeholder in order to produce the product we have today!
What do you see as the future of serious games? What does the industry need?
I believe the future of serious games is bright, as there are many games today that are focusing on topics that have never been touched or thought about by common media. I believe the industry needs to introduce more diversity, including diverse topics and people who are willing to share their experiences so we can be more understanding as individuals. The types of people these could include would be those underrepresented in the industry, such as people of color or women who are also passionate about games. More serious games should also be made that describe our experiences, trials, and tribulations while working within the industry. There should also be more games that focus on mental health and the variety of healthy ways individuals can manage their wellness through interactive instruction.
What’s next for you?
I hope to continue my endeavors in gaming by working in industry or continuing to produce games that focus on topics important to me, particularly mental health and wellness. I hope to be able to get a job as a software engineer, as I have worked on a multitude of projects at UCSC that primarily involved me programming a vast array of languages. Engineering interests me greatly, and I’d like a job in the field that further broadens my horizons.
Check out Amber’s portfolio: https://sites.google.com/view/amber-sargeant/home
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