Getting in the Game at Irvine Valley College Student Spotlight

June 24, 2021

William Tate was studying mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, when he realized his passion for the profession was quickly waning and he opted to return to his hometown of Irvine. 

It turned out to be a great move. Tate, who enrolled at Irvine Valley College for a fresh start in the spring of 2019, earned his associate degree in computer science and a certificate in immersive design/game design this spring. He was accepted to virtually every baccalaureate program he applied to and will transfer this fall to UC Santa Cruz for bachelor’s degree in computer science and game design en route to a future in game development. 

“I really can’t say enough about IVC’s game development program,” Tate said. “It’s pretty comprehensive, the instructors are amazing, and the courses focus on the underlying principles, methodologies and theory in gaming. The program is probably at least as good as what you can find at many four-year colleges and universities.”

The Immersive Design – Game Design certificate, part of Irvine Valley College’s Interactive Media Arts Program, includes courses on writing and storyboarding for games, visual scripting for games, and game level design. Tate’s portfolio project, a visual novel dubbed ‘From Nothing’, was a semifinalist at the 10th Annual Virtual IEEE GameSig Intercollegiate Computer Game Competition. Irvine Valley College’s Computer Science Program offers courses ranging from JAVA Programming and Computer Discrete Mathematics to Data Structures and Analytic Geometry and Calculus. Both programs are part of Irvine Valley College’s expansive career education options, including accounting, administration of justice, business/entrepreneurship, paralegal studies, sustainability & resource management, theatre arts, and more.

Irvine Valley College also houses a growing esports program.

Game design was not on Tate’s mind when he graduated from Troy High School in Fullerton, nor was Irvine Valley College. Interested in an engineering career, Tate instead moved to Troy and majored in mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the nation’s oldest technological research university, just outside the New York capital of Albany. “It just wasn’t right for me,” said Tate. “I couldn’t see making a career out of it.”

He moved back home a little more than a year later, took a class at Irvine Valley College, and discovered the computer science and gaming programs.

“William found his passion at IVC,” said instructor and mentor Patricia Beckmann. “He had studied engineering and it just did not excite him. He tried out the Interactive Media Arts courses because he always wanted to do game design. Classes in the IMA program normally cost thousands of dollars at the area private schools, but he was able to try out the material for a very affordable investment. Now, he is prepared with a good foundation in theory and industry-standard software, earned transferable credits and was accepted into one of the top game programs in the state.”

Added Tate, who is 21, “I’ve always been pretty passionate about games and I have a general love of the design, specifically about the systems behind the design and the storytelling that is involved,” said Tate, 21. “The program Irvine Valley College offers is a solid, well-rounded one. It was a good decision to come here.”

Two years after he returned to Irvine, Tate was accepted into some of the top game design schools in the country, including DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Wash. Instead, he’s going to the Jack Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz for a bachelor’s degree in computer science: computer game design.

Tate, however, said he may return to Irvine Valley College once more. After working as a game designer and developer, he’s thinking about trying his hand as an instructor in the game design program.