Ten years ago, Pooris Baine was running a small video game retail store he founded with friends in his home country of Iran. At the time, he was taking civil engineering courses at a local university but it was the games in his store he really loved.
He recalled being in awe of the then-revolutionary graphics and player strategy that seemed to activate his senses and make him see, hear, feel, and almost taste the action.
Today, he’s on his way to joining the video game development industry thanks to the Interactive Media Arts program at Irvine Valley College. The program has given him professional options he never considered.
“When I started, I wanted to be a game designer. Then, I was introduced to animation and modeling, and I was feeling animation a lot more,” he said laughing at how his interests expanded every time he took a new course. Eventually, he found his calling.
“With my skills and everything that I have gained in my classes, I think I would be good in the producer role,” said Baine, who worked in management and accounting before starting the program. “It's like wearing a glove; I fit in right there.”
At IVC, Baine had a chance to put his skills to the test as a producer on a student-created video game, “Gooji Gooji Unknown Villain,” a project he completed while in the IMA 191, 192, and 193 Portfolio courses which help students build a portfolio they can show to potential employers. The project was a finalist in the 2023 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) GameSiG Showcase which had 30 entries from across Orange County.
In addition to game design, the Interactive Media Arts program offers coursework in microcontrollers, 3D printing, virtual reality, augmented reality, traditional animated film, visual effects, and more. Thus far, Baine has completed three certificates and is only a few courses away from earning an associate degree.
After moving to the United States in 2015, Baine initially enrolled at IVC because it was affordable, convenient, and an inexpensive way to see if he liked the video game industry. Now, he encourages anyone interested in gaming or computers to enroll.
“Whatever you are passionate about, they have something that you can be good at and explore,” he said. “You can try out different programs and find what fits right.”
Baine appreciates how his instructors were supportive while challenging him to push himself. Shon Stewart, an instructor in graphic design, made himself available outside of class to help him on assignments. He recalls Stewart once providing so many interesting options for a video project it ended up being twice as long as required. “He loved doing what he was doing,” Baine said. “He would bring more new ideas. Our creativity flourished and we wanted to pursue it and do more.”
In addition to great instruction, IVC does what it can to help students find work. For example, digital media art instructor Patricia Beckmann sends students job openings and encourages them to take advantage of professional opportunities.
“I can see them helping me get to my goal,” said Baine who appreciates their support. “It makes me feel like this is where I belong.”