Game designer Anthony Newman ’01 told students enrolled in the new video game design class about his career as a video game designer at Naughty Dog, Inc., known for the “Crash Bandicoot” and “Uncharted” franchises.
Newman talked to the class for 40 minutes about the process and technology used to make video games, in a large company. He spent the last five minutes of class discussing the finer aspects of game design, including the relation between game mechanics, aesthetic, and the background story.
“Since it was a computer science class, a lot of what I covered was pretty technical,” Newman said. “This included the challenges of console game development and the methodologies we use to get around those challenges. I also showed a lot of under-the-hood footage of what the games look like when we’re working on them.”
At Homecoming last year, Performing Arts teacher Ted Walch, who taught Newman in tenth grade English, ran into Newman. Video game design teacher Jacob Hazard and math teacher Kevin Weis did too.
The reunion led Newman to invite Hazard, Walch and Weis to visit the Naughty Dog studio. He gave Walch an overview of video games, technically and creatively.
“[Newman] is very smart, very quick, loves Harvard-Westlake and is eager to help,” Walch said. “I think part of him wants to make up for the times he drove me just a bit crazy when he was in 10th grade. He was a naughty dog then and he’s a Naughty Dog now.”
Shortly after their meeting, Newman talked to Hazard about the possibility of a guest lecture.
“Understanding what is involved will allow us to better align our goals with our resources and potential,” Hazard said. “It is intrinsically interesting to learn about the complexity involved in such ambitious endeavors as making video games.”
Hazard said that the presentation was effective, as students could learn from someone they could identify with — a young alum working at a distinguished video game company. He said it also allowed them to learn more about “what is actually involved in making industry-grade video games.”
As a game designer, Newman is currently working on the fighting mechanics for Naughty Dog’s upcoming game “The Last of Us.”
“If you’re a student at Harvard-Westlake, you’re in a really special place,” Newman said. “Enjoy your time there, and don’t sweat the small stuff.”