CV & Contact

Christopher W. Totten

Twitter: @totter87

COMPUTER SKILLS:

  • 3D Studio Max
  • Maya
  • Blender
  • Unity 3D
  • Adobe Creative Suite including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, and Premiere
  • Microsoft Office software
  • JavaScript
  • C#
  • CAD software (AutoCAD, DraftSight)

DESIGN SKILLS:

  • UI/UX design
  • 2D/3D art
  • Animation
  • Level Design
  • Art direction
  • Project management
  • Game concept design
  • Graphic design

GAME INDUSTRY, DESIGN, AND ANIMATION EXPERIENCE:

  •  American University Game Lab, Washington, DC
    • August 2014 – August 2017
    • Game Designer in Residence
    • Responsible for creating artwork for game projects including characters, environments, interface, and other design elements. Coordinate with other staff members on artwork implementation in game projects. Coordinator for industry-relevant events such as the Global Game Jam and Smithsonian American Art Museum indie game arcade. Actively researching connections between game art and traditional art forms through game projects and writing.
  • George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
    • July 2012 – Present
    • App designer, artist, and project manager
    • Responsible for creating designs for mobile apps. Create interface wireframes. Manage developers on creating app to client specs. Consult with clients on app requirements and deliverables. Teach classes in mobile game development, game design, and game design history.
  • E4 Software, Damascus, MD
    • April 2012 – Present
    • Art director, level designer, 2D and 3D artist for mobile games
    • Responsible for suggestions on the art direction of E4’s game productions, including the mobile tablet game Swarm. Help schedule project milestones. Network and recruit artists to meet project demands. Create all art assets including but not limited to concept art, design sketches, level designs, level diagrams, 3D models, character rigs, texture maps, and animations.
  • Pie for Breakfast Studios, Fairfax, VA
    • May 2011 – Present
    • Founder, creative director, art director
    • Founded independent game studio for the creation of mobile gaming apps. Responsible for creative and artistic direction on game projects and recruiting of design and development talent. Oversee design meetings and set project deadlines. Draw up and negotiate contracts.
  • FrostFire Games, Toronto, ON, Canada
    • March 2012 – June 2012
    • Contributing artist, designer, level designer
    • Contribute 3D character art to independent game production for the game Redshift: Afterlife. Provide guidance on level and game design to fully integrate core mechanics and optimize gameplay experience.
  • Westwood College, Arlington, VA
    • Jan. 2010 – July 2012
    • Professor of Game Art and 3D Animation
    • Teach classes in Game Art, Animation, and Graphic Design programs. Develop course lectures and content and lead design projects to help students reinforce core concepts. Create and lead weekend software workshops on platforms such as Blender, Maia, and 3D Studio Max. Developed the GameTank summer intensive game development program. Participate in development of campus’s design program and sit on faculty councils aimed at improving interdepartmental collaboration.
  • Giuliani Associates Architects, Alexandria, VA
    • July 2009 – Dec. 2009
    • Digital Media Consultant
    • Provided 3D animation in 3D Studio Max for graphic design, logo design, branding creation, web content creation, interactive walkthrough development, film editing, and compositing.

GAMES

  • Dead Man’s Trail, Pie for Breakfast Studios
    • Fall 2016 (upcoming)
    • Director, producer, art director, 2D/3D artist, level designer
    • Dead Man’s Trail is a horror survival game in the style of The Oregon Trail where players must manage the health and status of a traveling party and loot supplies in procedurally generated 3D environments. Developed in Unity over 3 years.
  • Addie’s Patchwork Playground, Pie for Breakfast Studios/American University Game Lab
    • Spring/Summer 2016 (upcoming)
    • Director, art director, 2D artist, level designer
    • Part of the Atelier Games series, where the game art is produced with fine-art production techniques. The game is an experimental platformer where players paint a quilted world through their own play. As players move Addie, an adventure-loving girl in dinosaur pajamas, stamps are left for different actions - running, climbing, and jumping. Players interact with the game by playing with a quilt made of conductive fabric in the real world. Developed in Unity.
  • Assessment Micro Games, American University Game Lab/ETS
    • Spring/Summer 2015
    • Art director, 2D Artist
    • Created artwork for multiple small-format game projects for the Educational Testing Service. Developed in GameSalad. Delivered to client in 6 months.
  • Lissitzky’s Revenge, Pie for Breakfast Studios/American University Game Lab
    • Spring 2015
    • Director, developer, 2D artist, level designer
    • Part of the Atelier Games series, where the game art is produced with fine-art production techniques. Lissitzky’s Revenge is an action game based on the poster Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge (El Lissitzky, 1920) using paper cut-outs as the art medium. Developed in Construct 2. Developed for independent release on Game Jolt in 3 months.
  • Delivery Drone, American American University Game Lab
    • Fall 2014
    • Art director, 2D artist
    • Retro top-down “bullet hell” newsgame. Players are a drone pilot maneuvering around other drones while trying to pick up and deliver packages while avoiding houses where occupants want privacy. Developed for independent release in 1 month.
  • Ice Bucket Challenge, Pie for Breakfast Studios/American American University Game Lab
    • Fall 2014
    • Art director, developer, 2D Artist, level designer
    • Retro 2D platformer developed in 48 hours as a response to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Players control me collecting coins for my donation while avoiding buckets of ice water. Developed for independent release online in 5 days.
  • Zup!, Pie for Breakfast Studios/E4 Software
    • Summer 2014
    • Art director, 2D Artist
    • Mobile action game with art produced with craft foam and assembled in Photoshop and Blender 3D. Players tilt their device to guide a man who has filled his head with helium into the sky, avoiding obstacles. Developed in 6 months and released on iOS and Android.
  • Celestium, Global Game Jam 2014
    • Art director, 2D Artist, level designer
    • 48-hour game project. A fighting game between Greek gods and goddesses trying to control the sky.
  • Onward and Life Quest, George Mason University
    • Spring/Summer 2014
    • Producer
    • These two serious games apps were produced for George Mason University’s Center for Advancing Correctional Excellence. These games allow probationers to determine their own daily real-life “quests” for addressing their problem areas and track them via in-app calendar systems. Delivered to client in 6 months.
  • Swarm!, E4 Software
    • Spring 2013
    • Art director, 2D/3D Artist, level designer
    • A mobile action game where players tilt their device to guide a spherical character through cartoon environments while luring enemies into traps. Developed in 1 year and released on iOS and Android.
  • Star Sharks, IGDA DC “Tighten Up the Graphics on Level 3” Game Jam
    • 2012
    • 3D Artist
    • Game created for a local game jam in 48 hours.
  • ABC’s Learn and Sing, E4 Software
    • 2012
    • Art director, 2D/3D Artist
    • A mobile educational game developed for the Barnes and Noble Nook in 3 weeks.
  • Clone Zombie Apocalypse, Wiley Publishing
    • 2012
    • 2D/3D artist, developer, level designer
    • A game developed for my book, Game Character Creation in Blender and Unity, which readers create as they read the book. I developed my own copy in 1 month before submission to the publisher as part of the book’s downloadable resources.
  • Susie’s Summer Home, Global Game Jam 2012.
    • 3D Artist
    • 48-hour game project. A surrealist horror game created in the Unity engine.
  • The Nightmare over Innsmouth, independent
    • Fall 2011
    • Developer, 2D/3D Artist, level designer
    • A 3D horror game based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft and the art of Tim Burton. Created as part of my 2011 GDC China presentation, “Designing Better Levels Through Human Survival Instincts.”
  • Game Design and Architecture, Catholic University of America School of Architecture
    • Fall 2008/Spring 2009
    • Designer, 2D Artist
    • A board game developed as part of my grad school architecture thesis that turns the process of architectural design into a board game and guides players through projects.

COMMUNITY ACTIVITY:

  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, 2014 - Present
    • Organizer – SAAM Indie Arcade yearly game event
    • Work with Smithsonian American Art Museum on arcade event displaying independent games created in the United States. Perform outreach to regional game communities for entries. Coordinate competition and selection processes. Manage display of games on site at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Prepare event signage. Design and publish event guidebooks.
  • Global Game Jam, Washington, DC, 2013 - present
    • Site organizer
    • Site organizer for Washington, DC-area Global Game Jam sites. Organize team selection processes. Reserve facilities. Promote site to local game developers. Showcase developer games.
  • International Game Developers Association, Washington, DC, July 2014 – Present
    • Chapter chair
    • Organize professional organization for game developers in the Washington, DC metro region. Perform outreach to regional game communities for entries into indie game competitions. Coordinate competition and selection processes. Work with local businesses for sponsorship and assistance. Prepare event topics and schedules. Organize networking meetups. Advocate for game development to local government and cultural institutions. Coordinate with IGDA HQ to advance chapter presense.
  • International Game Developers Association, Washington, DC July 2011 – Present
    • Chapter board member
    • Organize meetings for game developers in the Washington, DC metro region. Prepare event topics and schedules. Disseminate development resources. Reach out to potential speakers. Advocate for game development to local government and cultural institutions.
  • Game Developers Conference, San Francisco, CA  March 2012, March 2013, March 2015, March 2016
    • Conference Associate
    • Volunteer worker at GDC 2012 and 2013. Organized conference materials, provided directions and logistical information to conference participants, and prepared speakers for their sessions. Gained industry contacts and game project collaborators. Attended sessions and developed industry insight into modern technologies, methodologies, and trends.
  • MAGFest, National Harbor, MD, 2013 – Present
    • MAGFest Academic Game Symposium (MAGES) member
    • Speaker for the MAGES educational panel series at MAGFest. Develop panel content and topic areas. Provide feedback on administration of event. Consult on future expansions to the Symposium into other venues and formats. Network with new industry contacts to recruit speakers.

EXHIBITIONS (juried post-review):

  • 2016: Dead Man’s Trail, MAGFest Indie Video Game Showcase, National Harbor, MD
  • 2015: Atelier Games: Lissitzky’s Revenge, Baltimore Artscape, Baltimore, MD
  • 2015: Atelier Games: Lissitzky’s Revenge, Smithsonian American Art Museum, American Now: Innovation in Art, Washington, DC.
  • 2015: Atelier Games: Lissitzky’s Revenge, Blank Arcade, Luneberg, Germany.
  • 2014: Dead Man’s Trail, Smithsonian American Art Museum Indie Arcade, Washington, DC.
  • 2014: Dead Man’s Trail, IGDA DC indie pop-up arcade, Washington, DC.
  • 2014: Dead Man’s Trail, Baltimore Artscape, Baltimore, MD
  • 2012: Swarm!, Arts By George, Fairfax, VA

PUBLICATIONS REVIEWED

  • Digital Games Research Association/Foundations of Digital Games, Appointed reviewer. (February 2016 - August 2016) I am a reviewer for the DiGRA/FDG Game criticism and analysis track for the DiGRA/FDG conference 2016.
  • Pixel Art for Game Developers, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, Appointed. (January 2015 - September 2015) Reviewed the proposal for Pixel Art for Game Developers by Daniel Silber and quoted on the back cover of the book.
  • Video Game Design: Principles and Processes from the Ground Up, Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK, Appointed. (August 2014 - August 2015) Reviewing book manuscript on game industry processes and methods.

BOOKS

  • Level Design: Processes and Experiences, editor, AK Peters/CRC Press. 2016.
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum Indie Arcade Event Book, editor, self-published, 2016.
  • An Architectural Approach to Level Design, AK Peters/CRC Press. June 2014
  • Game Character Creation in Blender and Unity, Wiley Publishing, July, 2012.

ACADEMIC BOOK CHAPTERS:

  • “De-coding Games through Historical Research in Art and Design”, in Game Design Research. Editors, Petri Lankoski and Jussi Holopainen, ETC Press, 2017 (forthcoming).
  • “Moving Forward by Looking Back – Using Art and Architectural History to Make and Understand Games”, Chapter for Contemporary Research on Intertextuality in Video Games. Editors, Christophe Duret and Christian-Marie Pons, IGI Global, Upcoming 2016.

ACADEMIC PUBLICATIONS:

  • “A Case Study in Newsgame Creation: Why Game Designers and Journalists are Still Learning to Work Together,” co-author. 66th International Communication Conference, Fokouka, Japan, June 2016.
  • "Designing Microgames for Assessment:  A Case Study in Rapid Iteration," Co-author, International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, Iskandar, Malaysia. November 18, 2015.
  • “Bug-fixing Game-like Syllabi: Evaluating Common Issues and Iterating New Pedagogical Mechanics.” Foundations of Digital Games Conference Proceedings, June. 2015.
  • “Teaching Serious Game App Design Through Client-based Projects.” Digital Games Research Association Conference Proceedings, Aug. 2013.

INDUSTRY PUBLICATIONS

  • “Game Design Primer.” White paper for iThrive Games, July 2016.
  • “Things We Teach Each Other: On Specialization.” Indie Game Magazine, May 2014
  • “3D Art for Indies.” IGDA Insider Magazine, Jan 2014.
  • “SWARM!: An Academic Postmortem”, GameCareerGuide.com. March 2013.
  • “CG for Games: All-in-One Development in Blender and Unity.” CG Magazine (Chinese Publication), Dec. 2011.
  • “Designing Better Levels Through Human Survival Instincts.” Gamasutra.com, June 2011.
  • “Why are There No Good Bible Games?” VideoGameWriters.com, May 2011.
  • “Contextual Tales: Creating Better Narrative Environments.” VideoGameWriters.com, May 2011.
  • “Games Aren’t Art, They’re Architecture.” VideoGameWriters.com, Apr. 2011.
  • “Extracting Game Design Lessons from Christopher Nolan’s Inception.” Game Career Guide, Aug. 2010.
  • “Graduate Thesis: Game Design and Architecture.” Game Career Guide and Gamasutra.com, June 2009.

CONFERENCE/CONVENTION PRESENTATIONS:

  • “Game Academia’s Art Problem”, part of the Game Educator Soapbox, Game Developers Conference, San Francisco, CA, Feb. 2017 (upcoming.)
  • “Building a Local Game Community with Cultural Allies.” GDEX, Columbus, OH, Oct. 2016.
  • “‘It belongs in a museum!’ Showing Games in Cultural Institutions.” East Coast Game Conference, Raleigh, NC, Apr. 2016.
  • “Bug-fixing Game-like Syllabi: Evaluating Common Issues and Iterating New Pedagogical Mechanics.” Foundations of Digital Games Conference, June. 2015.
  • “Level Design Like An Architect” East Coast Game Conference, Raleigh, NC, Apr. 2015.
  • “Is Game Art Art?.” East Coast Game Conference, Raleigh, NC, Apr. 2015.
  • “Game Verbs for Change” Workshop presentation at Games For Change Conference, April 2014
  • “Serious Games: The Role of the Academic Institution” panel. MAGFest (Music and Gaming Festival.) National Harbor, MD. Jan. 2014.
  • “Understanding Game Environments and Worlds” panel. MAGFest (Music and Gaming Festival.) National Harbor, MD. Jan. 2014.
  • “Teaching Serious Game App Design Through Client-based Projects.” DiGRA, Atlanta, GA, Aug 2013.
  • “Teaching in Level Design Through Visual Communication.” East Coast Game Conference, Raleigh, NC, Apr. 2013.
  • Gamification Panel. WIPJam @ mHealth conference. National Harbor, MD. Dec. 2012.
  • “The Lens of Truth: Real World Adaptive Level Design.” Nanocon Workshop on Integrated Design, Dakota State University, Madison, South Dakota, Nov. 2012.
  • “Designing Better Levels Through Human Survival Instincts.” East Coast Game Conference, Raleigh, NC, Apr. 2012.
  • “Designing Better Levels Through Human Survival Instincts.” Game Developers Conference China, Shanghai, Nov. 2011.
  • “Necroludology: Reanimating Our Fear of Zombies Through Gameplay.” Nanocon Workshop on Integrated Design, Dakota State University, Madison, South Dakota, Nov. 2011.

MEDIA REVIEWS OF WORK

  • Priestman, C., "iconic 20th century art is being turned into a series of experimental videogames," Review of Pie For Breakfast Studios/American University Game Lab, "Lissitzky's Revenge" (March 2015) in Killscreen (April 9, 2015)
  • Meier, A., "Be the Bolshevik Wedge in a Game Inspired by El Lissitzky’s 1919 Propaganda Art," Review of Pie For Breakfast Studios/American University Game Lab, "Lissitzky's Revenge" (March 2015) in Hyperallergic (May 15, 2015)
  • Ronan, R., "indie games: Lissitzky's Revenge," Review of Pie For Breakfast Studios/American University Game Lab, "Lissitzky's Revenge" (March 2015) in Smith Journal (June 10, 2015)

MEDIA APPEARANCES AND MENTIONS

  • Indianapolis Star (January 2016) I was interviewed for a story in the Indianapolis Star on the role of games in museums and other cultural institutions.
  • Entertainment Software Association video (January 16, 2016) I was interviewed by an ESA film crew during the Indie Arcade at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
  • PBS (January 16, 2016) I was interviewed by a reporter from PBS during the Smithsonian American Art Museum Indie Arcade for an upcoming story.
  • American University Connections Magazine (2015), Work of mine was featured in a retrospective on the arts at American University.
  • Al Jazeera America (December 25, 2015) I was interviewed for a piece on women in game development and gaming for Al Jazeera English along with AU Game Design MA student Kelli Dunlapp, PsyD, and faculty member Benjamin Stokes.
  • North Coast Game Educators Alliance Podcast (November 15, 2015) I was a featured guest on the North Coast Game Educators Alliance Podcast talking about game education and level design.
  • PBS Game Show (August 11, 2015) A book of mine was featured and referenced on an episode of PBS's YouTube series, Game Show.
  • Featured in Mason Spirit Magazine, “Rethinking the Classroom: Project-based Design”, spring 2013 issue.
  • Featured in Mason Research Magazine, “Mason Students Develop Mobile Apps to Discourage Underage Alcohol Use”, January 2013.

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND:

  • The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC May 2009. Master of Architecture, Digital Media Concentration. Thesis Title: Game Design and Architecture
  • The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, May 2007. Bachelor of Science in Architecture

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS:

  • International Game Developers’ Association (IGDA)
  • Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA)
  • Global Game Jam: Research advisory committee member – 2014

GRANTS

  • Co-PI: American University College of Arts and Sciences Fall Mellon Competition - $2500

AWARDS AND HONORS:

  • Best paper in topic, Foundations of Digital Games conference – nominated,           2015
  • Career Connection Faculty Award, George Mason University – nominated, 2014
  • Campus Teacher of the Year, Westwood College, 2011
  • Spot Award for Outstanding Performance, Westwood College, 2011
  • Dean’s Commendation for Thesis Research, Catholic University of America, 2008
  • Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society, Catholic University of America,  2003 – 2007
  • Department of the Army Award for Studio Project, 2007
           

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