Afro-Puerto Rican artist Isiah B. Rosa started playing video games when he was a child. Then he attended an NYU outreach program and realized he could make a career out of his passion. “I decided to pursue a career in game design after participating in the NYU Future Game Designers program during my junior year of high school,” Isiah says. “The NYU Game Center in Brooklyn hosts Future Game Designers during the spring semester. It gives prospective high school students a taste of what it’s like to design games. After participating, I was enthralled and immediately decided that I needed to design games for a living.”
The following year, he applied to the Tisch School of the Arts. Today, the junior majors in Game Design and dreams of working at Nintendo as a narrative designer after graduation. Thanks to NYU, that dream is well within his reach.
Finding His First Community
Though many students take some time to find their place at NYU, Isiah found his community almost immediately. “During Welcome Week my first year, I spent my nights in the Rubin Hall lounge playing video games on the big TV with a lot of other game design students. We did this every night that first week. We played Jackbox Party games, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., and more, all while befriending and learning about one another,” says Isiah.
The experience was unique and made him realize what a special place NYU is. “I hadn’t ever really had such a large group of gaming friends together all at once before in my life. I truly felt like I had found my community during that week,” he says. “Throughout my first year, we continued to use the lounge to meet up and hang out regularly. It was a home base, and some of my closest friends to this day were made in that group. I am so grateful for that first week of school that brought us all together.”
Sharing the Experience
In part because the NYU Game Center played such a pivotal role in his own journey as a Game Design major, Isiah decided to work there. He wanted to do what he could to share the experience with other students from across NYU, and even the general public of New York City. As a game librarian at the NYU Game Center, Isiah connects with unique individuals both inside and out of his program. For this reason, he credits the experience with helping him become successful at networking.
One key experience that’s helped him learn this important skill? Playtest Thursdays. “Playtest Thursdays is a weekly event that is open to the public. Folks can come out and help developers test their games as well as enjoy free pizza,” says Isiah. “Events like this help me expand my network because, since I work them, I regularly engage with patrons who attend. I very much enjoy helping developers flesh out and expand their projects.”
Looking to the Future
Tisch has helped Isiah put those networking skills to the test. He is preparing for his career with many opportunities for meeting professionals in the field. “In 2018, I attended the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. There, I met Doug Bowser, the president of Nintendo of America,” says Isiah. “When Mr. Bowser came up to my table, I was in shock. What I appreciated most about our conversation was that he spoke to me as a peer first, not as a fan. That small act of treating me as an equal reaffirmed my belief that I am on the right path in pursuing game design. After that conversation, I felt like I belonged. This space I was inhabiting was meant for me. It was such a rewarding experience, and I hope that conversation will lead me to a job at Nintendo one day.”