When Justin Sabo recently set out to search for his next job, the tech enthusiast/game designer looked for a position that would help broaden his design skills. He also wanted to be an advisor in some capacity, so when he recently saw the Game Designer and Developer in Residence position at Harrisburg University posted on Indeed.com, he knew he had found what he was looking for.
Not long after, Harrisburg University also found who it was searching for to fill the position in Sabo.
Sabo, 35, who grew up in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, joined HU last month.
We recently caught up with him to learn more about his background and his new position at the University.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background?
A: I went to Carnegie Mellon University and earned a master’s degree in entertainment technology in 2012. After that, I worked for a year as a game designer at Schell Games. I then co-founded a startup and received financing from Alpha Lab. The company, Digital Dream Labs, focused on bridging hardware and software games to help students with coding, math, and art. We made learning easier by mixing hands-on learning with video games.
Q: Tell us what you will be doing in your new position?
A: In the new position, I advise students while they are working on client-based projects. For example, students could be developing a software solution could be a hospital system, school or hardware manufacturer. It could be a simulation or a game, or something that uses engagement as a way of making sure users will experience this product in the right way.
And with my business experience, I can help students figure out the business goals of why we are making the product and how it can fit in with what the customers offer and how it fits in with customers.
I plant to meet with students one-on-one and lead roundtable discussions around design development and review current and past games to help develop their analytical skills give students the ability to look at things from a slightly different colored lens.
The other big thing is playtesting. Putting a game in front of the market and getting feedback and having users tell you what they like and don’t like about it.
Also, in the fall, I will be teaching a course in game development. It will be more of an intro course.
Q: Will you be developing your own games also in the position?
A: As part of my role, I will work on my own personal projects, which include mobile games, location-based games, and even console games. I will invite students to shadow on business meetings so they get a sense of what it really feels like and the process in general. It could involve pitching the game.
Q: What attracted you to Harrisburg University?
A: The focus on science and technology, and really making a point of having the latest and greatest software and hardware. And HU gives students a range of projects. The ability to experience real-world projects spoke well to me. If I came up with a school philosophy of my own, it would be close to this. It was a kindred spirit type of thing.