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December 4, 2017

On-Site Insights: Gamer-Turned-Educator Schools the Next Generation of Technologists

By Melissa Hart

In previous posts, we defined the term “technologist,” a label that applies to people working in companies of all shapes and sizes across the country along a broad spectrum of industries – not just those that write software and make hardware. We explained that, while technologists have diverse interests and multifaceted personalities, most share five traits:

  1. A technologist thinks strategy first.
  2. A technologist has a passion for solving problems and a general sense of curiosity.
  3. A technologist sees technology in a constructive context.
  4. A technologist believes tech is about humans, not hardware.
  5. A technologist values respect, cooperation and collaboration.

SQHEADbowditchSeeing computer-generated dinosaurs in the groundbreaking movie “Jurassic Park” inspired young John Bowditch to pursue a degree in filmmaking. But then, in grad school, he delved deep into computer animation and interactive technology, realizing video game design and production was his true calling as a technologist.


Game design is the “perfect intersection of everything” that interests him, Bowditch said, whose passion for solving visual challenges plays out on screen, as his work gives viewers the ability to control and direct a virtual world presented to them. In a literal sense, game design is a constructive context that values human creativity most of all. “Few industries have as much innovation going on as game development does,” he said.



Today, Bowditch teaches video game development at Ohio University as director of the School of Media Arts & Studies’ Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab. His students learn the full spectrum of project management and execution, from creative concepts to technical production. Projects are hands-on and include experience outside the classroom, with as many as 20 classmates collaborating at any given time.


Projects at the GRID Lab align with key traits technologists share: Teaching strategy, collaboration and a constructive approach to technology. A recent project created a virtual reality (VR) experience to help people become more comfortable giving blood. In a separate partnership with a hospital, students developed 360 views of the trauma center to use VR to help train residents.


Bowditch shared some insights he’s gained by teaching, ideas in synch with Creating IT Futures’ Next Up mission to inspire the next generation of technologists:


“What I’ve found is that every young person is at least somewhat interested in technology, but they get discouraged early on and think it’s not for them. If you’re frustrated it means you are learning something,” he said.


The key is not to become hung up on any one type of program or application. “I try to remind students how quickly this stuff is evolving,” he said, pointing to how it was the iPhone’s 10th anniversary this summer. “If you look at the number of disruptions that one device, and smart phones in general, caused in the past decade, it’s astounding. When you look at 10 years from now, it gets people excited, thinking of ways to innovate.”


Have you met an impressive technologist while on-site at an industry event?

Inspiring Success collects stories about technologists, and then shares them with people considering technology careers. Send your story to Contributing Editor R.C. Dirkes at and inspire someone.