Designing the future of technology and gaming

March 6, 2015

By Kelly O'Brien ‘15

Someday the content on our computer screens may transcend their thick desktop monitors thanks to Microsoft.  A holographic computer called “HoloLens” is in the works, and Karisma Williams ’04 had a hand in its innovation.

Williams worked as a user experience designer for the HoloLens project, researching the holographic interface and producing pre-visualizations of scenarios among other design and development tasks.  This is just one of many standout moments in a career path that stemmed from Bradley’s multimedia and graphic design curriculums in the early 2000s

“Bradley was one of few colleges at the time looking towards the future and offering a program based in interaction design,” she said.  “Having the ability to keep students up to date and to set them up for the future is critical in their development process.  It was also helpful all my professors allowed me to turn pretty much every assignment I could into one related to the videogame industry.”

Williams currently helps create mobile games for videogame developer Z2 while working on completing a master’s degree in software engineering.  For students aspiring to enter the tech and gaming world like Williams, she advises them to diversify their skill sets.

“If you are more creatively inclined, try to learn some fundamentals of engineering and prototyping.  You don't need to be the best engineer, but having a foundational understanding will make it easier to communicate across disciplines.  If you are more inclined toward engineering, work on softer skills like communication.  Good engineers who can listen and communicate well go far and are always in demand.”

Williams knows from experience how rewarding such hard work can be, as she’s seen several of her games shipped to store shelves.  The most meaningful moment, however, came when a game she had worked on affected a young man in a wheel chair.

“He was able to interact with a game in ways he had not expected to be able to.  I think it brought most of the team who watched to tears.  I imagined how many times he had most likely been told he could not do something, and in the few moments in our lab, he was free from that.  It was a true reminder that tech, whether it be games or not, really can impact people in more ways than we imagine when we sit down to design.”

Williams reminds hopeful designers and developers that they too can make that kind of impression on people if they commit to continuously learn and grow with the ever-evolving tech and gaming industry.

“Things that seem niche today have a high chance of being mainstream tomorrow,” she said.  “Don't just think about how things work today, but how they will work in the future.”