Zachary Horton is a renowned figure in the world of game studies. As an associate professor in the department of English and founder of the Vibrant Media Lab, he has gained a reputation for expertly teaching and directing courses in board games, virtual reality, game story, and narrative. He is a specialist in digital narrative and interactive design, and his work extends to 3D printed camera company Mercury Works and boutique game design company Pandora Games. With his passion for photography, film, gaming, media, and philosophy, Horton seeks to impart his students with critical contextualization of their interests. By exploring differences between board games and hybrid games, their cultural contexts and storytelling, Horton proves the power of game studies in education.
VR Gaming With Professor Horton
Students that enroll in Professor Horton’s courses rave about his ability to provide a variety of content in his classes. As a professor of virtual reality, he integrates different formats, content, and materials into his course, from philosophy lectures to old video games. One of his students, Amy Qi, a senior in Psychology and Anthropology, acknowledged that the quality of Horton’s courses is remarkable. She highlights how he makes resources like old cameras and games available to his students, further emphasizing the quality education that he offers his students. Students who take courses with Horton appreciate learning new things that they would not have experienced otherwise.
The Power of Archipelago Board Game System
One of the notable highlights of Horton’s work is the Archipelago board game system, a miniature 3D printed board game designed to enhance students’ critical thinking skills in-game design practice. In his board game course, students work on Archipelago, enabling them to analyze and play the game and present their suggestions for enhancing the game system. The board game’s primary narrative focuses on the characters’ attempts to restore an island exploited for its resources. Each island, miniature people, animals, and ships are hand-painted by students after 3D printing. The Archipelago board game system offers an excellent framework for learning as students analyze both historical and modern board games.
Digital Storytelling and Interactive Design Major
Horton is a course creator and Director of the Digital Storytelling and Interactive Design (DSID), a joint major between Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Computing and Information. DSID has three tracks: Critical Creation, Game Design, and Online Media. As a result, students have a creative, interdisciplinary major and a career path that aligns with their passion. Horton’s courses and projects prioritize students’ deep connection with their passions and interests, and this major is a concrete representation of this ideology.
The Temporal Balance of Teaching Game Studies
Horton stated that teaching is an exciting adventure that enables him to help students chart their paths. He encouraged students to explore interdisciplinary paths, enabling them to combine their passions for creative careers. His passion and commitment to game studies indicate that there is power and potential in students’ interests, and he goes a step further in helping students critically contextualize these interests. His expertise, Archipelago board game system, and DSID major reveal the dynamic nature of game studies, and the endless possibilities are worth exploring.
Game studies have significant potential in education and as a career path. As technology advances faster than ever before, students need professors like Zachary Horton to guide them through understanding game studies within emerging technological advancements. Alongside VR Game New, we recognize Professor Horton’s work in this field and how it can be a differentiator for students looking to pursue creative careers.