Games and Interactive Media Senior Travels to L.A. for Field Experience Trip

During spring break, a handful of students participated in MSU’s game design West Coast Field Experience trip in Los Angeles.  

One of these students was Andrew Tran, a senior studying games and interactive media. In addition to gaining valuable insight from game design professionals, Tran made connections with fellow students, toured famous spots in L.A., but most importantly, got a clearer picture of his future in games. 

“It was definitely a great experience because we got to see one of the major locations for game development studios,” Tran said. “There were notable studio names like Blizzard Entertainment, Infinity Ward, Riot Games and so much more. I would say it was a learning experience because we got to hear these talks from people who have been in our shoes before. They gave us some pro tips about how to get into the game industry.” 

The trip is designed for students to meet with game development teams, explore game design studios, network and hear from speakers and tour California. Tran said another perk was that program faculty leaders gathered contact information from these game design professionals and provided those resources directly to students. 

“I was really excited to ask speakers questions,” Tran said. “I had some questions about post-graduation plans because I know that stuff is always the scariest. If I were to have some takeaways from those conversations, I’d say that not everyone has that ideal pathway to becoming a game developer, because it’s a very competitive industry and it’s not going to be as easy as getting a job immediately after graduation.” 

Aside from becoming more acquainted with the gaming industry, Tran also worked on personal goals during the trip, such as becoming more acquainted with fellow students. 

“I loved the fact that the people who worked with me on this trip—they’re those I’ve seen before and I was able to make friends and connect with them,” Tran said. “It was definitely fun and it pushed me out of my comfort zone. It makes me want to push further into this career.” 

The experience also allowed ample time for students to be L.A. tourists. 

“We got to choose whatever we wanted to do for sightseeing during free time, such as the Hollywood Boulevard, Griffith Observatory and my personal favorite: Little Tokyo,” he said. “Because I’m a huge anime fan, that was a great spot for me.” 

As a senior experiencing some level of post-graduation job search stress, Tran picked up a few takeaways from his experience on the West Coast—one being that he can look to fellow professionals to make himself better. 

“This experience helped me remember that I always have resources,” he said. “You can’t always figure everything out on your own. I’m not always a reach out for help kind of person, but I’m trying to push myself a tiny bit at a time, get feedback on materials and get good advice that I can keep in mind for the future. I’m an introvert, but I’m trying to change that little by little.” 

Tran aspires to work for Nintendo, the very studio that spurred his interest in games when he was young. He said that experiences like this can broaden horizons and give opportunities that might otherwise not present themselves.  

“Sometimes it’s hard to find game development opportunities in the Midwest, but if you go out there and see what the world is like, it can push you—not just career-wise, but with personal goals as well,” he said. “I remember this advice that I’ve had in my head for a couple of years. I always keep telling myself; if you see an opportunity, go for it. Otherwise, you might regret it later in your life.” 

When it comes to job and internship searching, Tran believes in patience and persistence above all else.  

“I’ve never gotten internships in the past, but I try not to let it discourage me,” he said. “I let it take its time. Build up your skill set and find other ways to help provide for yourself while you’re going for these jobs. The best advice I’ve ever heard was, ‘stay hungry and stay determined.’”  

By: Stella Govitz