Chris McCammon, ’20 on Virtual Reality, Game Development, and Studying Abroad in Montreal

Game Production Management Chris McCammon, ’20, came to Champlain to learn more about Virtual Reality (VR). Now, he is developing a VR game with his Capstone team. In this interview, we talk with Chris about his experience in the Game Studio, studying abroad in Montreal, Canada, and pursuing his passion for emerging media.

Q: What made you choose to attend Champlain College?

A: I used to have a gaming YouTube channel with 60,000 subscribers. I filmed a Minecraft video of me trying on the Oculus Dev 1, which is a VR headset. I remember thinking it was so cool that you could be immersed in these virtual worlds, so started imagining what stories you could tell in VR. That’s why I really wanted to come to Champlain. I’ve worked on VR for several years now, and everyone here has been very supportive. I even convinced my team members to do VR because I think it’s so amazing. It’s cool to access that immersive technology and learn how to use it.

Q: Why did you choose your major?

A: Game Production Management was the only major I could find in all of the United States that seemed relevant to me because I was just starting to get into VR at the time. So I was really happy to find that Game Production Management combined the business side of things with the creative side of things and put it into one major.

Q: You’re working on Capstone right now. Can you speak to your role on that team?

Capstone starts day one of senior year. We work on the same game the entire year, so it’s really the time to shine and make the game we want to make. At the end of the year, we have a Senior Show during which different companies and recruiters come to interview students. Not many schools offer something like that. 

My team is working on a game called Camera Shy, which is a VR exploration game where your primary tool is a camera with different lenses. It’s kind of a fantasy game because you can attach a magic lens that shows you a completely different space. It’s a game that anyone can pick up and get to know VR. Champlain is really good at providing us with the tools we need. We use VR headsets as well as controllers and computers for testing. It all comes down to us making the games and showing them off.

Q: What other projects have you done during your time here?

A: Junior year, my team worked on a game called Snowball Showdown in our production class. It was a wacky VR snowball fighting game, but the cool thing about that game was that we got accepted to the Oculus Start program. So Oculus gave us free VR headsets and invited us to Oculus Connect 6 in San Jose, which is an annual VR convention for the whole industry. We didn’t go as students, but as developers, which was really cool. We’re working to publish Snowball Showdown in the Oculus store, which is at the forefront of VR games. We hope to release the game to the public while we’re still in college.

Q: What would you say to the negative press about video games?

A: I would say that gaming can do amazing things. For example, with Snowball Showdown, we had a six year old in VR playing against her 90-year-old great-grandmother. They were both having fun in the virtual space, throwing snowballs at each other. You can have fantastic experiences through games.

Q: Have you worked with the BYOBiz program?

I was awarded the BYOBiz scholarship when I applied to Champlain. I wrote an essay about how, when I was eight, I started a business for my parents and neighbors. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset; I was developing a business plan at the same time I was applying to Champlain.

Q: What has been your experience with the Stiller School of Business?

A: As a producer, I’ve taken essential business classes that help me understand the entire industry. Introduction to Game Production Management gives us the big picture before we start taking more specific classes. We take several financial accounting classes so we understand numbers, as well as marketing classes to understand how to market games. Even general business classes get a game spin put on them. A lot of the time, we’ll work on projects specific to games to better understand how things work in that context.

Q: Did you study abroad?

I studied abroad in Montreal, Canada, where I interned at Casa Rara, which is a tiny VR game studio. The company had a staff of five people—plus me. I had my own desk, and we all collaborated together in one room. My boss was away a lot of the time, so I worked as the producer of the team for a while. It was a really cool experience to work in the role I’m hoping to get hired for in the future. 

Q: What else did you do in Montreal, aside from your internship?

A: We did so many things. We went to the Montreal International Game Summit, which is this international game developers’ conference. While I was there, I didn’t feel like a student; I felt as if I was part of the industry. We also toured companies like Unity and Ubisoft—all these amazing companies I’d love to work for. We just walked right in and started asking questions.

Q: Have you had any internships on campus back in Burlington?

A: I’m a producer at the Emergent Media Center. We’re working on a MxRPC (pronounced “Mixer PC”), which is an augmented reality computer-building game to teach people how to use computers without actually having a computer in front of them. It saves on costs for training IT professionals. Duane Dunston came to the Emergent Media Center with the idea for the game, and he’s a cybersecurity professor so there’s a cross-disciplinary aspect to it. 

Q: How has Champlain prepared you for the professional world?

I’m thankful for all the opportunities that Champlain has given me to succeed and be the best I can be. That includes discounts to all these different international game conventions, as well as the Scrum Master training, which is a real certification I can take with me when I graduate. Scrum is basically an Agile way of making games. Clinton Keith is the father of Scrum, and he comes here to teach us how it works. We get a Scrum Master Certification, which is very big in the game industry. You’ll find most of the industry uses Scrum, and they definitely want a Scrum Master on their team. It’s great to already have that qualification coming out of college.

Q: What are some of your goals for the future?

A: I’d love to go to Southern California because that’s a big hub of the game industry. I’m going to take everything I’ve learned at Champlain and hopefully get a job over there. My dream is to have a production company where we work on VR movies or some other interactive form of storytelling. So it would feel like you’re in a movie, even if you’re actually just sitting in your bedroom.

Want to find out more about how Champlain prepares you for the game industry? Check out our Game Studio to find the perfect major for you!

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