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Take Five: Q&A with Corey Nolan


January 10, 2013

Do you know Corey Nolan? She has designed flash games for the "Adult Swim" website and enjoys the crème brûlée served up at the ASU Farmers Market.

Nolan has worked for the university since October 2011.

1. What is it you do here?

I'm a gameplay programmer on the Atlantis Remixed (ARX) project. The purpose of ARX is to create fun and engaging games that can be used by teachers as learning tools. Our first game "The Doctor's Cure" applies the core curriculum standards of persuasive writing to an engaging narrative about science ethics.

As a programmer, I help implement gameplay features and create tools for the core systems that artists and designers use to make our games. I also contribute to infrastructural changes that help keep the whole project up and running.

2. Where did you learn your chops?

I graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2009 with degrees in computer science and electronic media arts and communications. I've had experience with the Unity engine (which the ARX project uses) first through an internship with a start-up gaming company in 2007 and later on my own side projects. On the design side, I worked on a number of flash games for the "Adult Swim" website. Most recently, before joining the ASU team, I served as the community manager at Broken Bulb Studios, a social games company located here in the Valley. The variety of previous experience helps a lot, especially on a small team. We all end up 'switching hats' quite often!

3. What's the best part of your job?

I love my teammates! They're all incredibly creative, funny and dedicated. It's easy to love your job when your coworkers are your friends.

By far though, the most rewarding aspect has been the kids' reactions when they play our game in class. They're always so excited! I was observing one class where a student asked his teacher if he could skip recess to keep playing. That, to me, is a sign we're on the right track.

4. Why does the work you do matter?

We're a part of ASU's Learning Sciences Institute, which broadly seeks to innovate within the fields of learning and education. Our games, in particular, have a focus on improving the education system as it exists in schools. ARX games give children access to more complex environments and allow them to make decisions that are far more systems-oriented than would be possible in a non-simulated experience. The games are fun and provide children with a context for learning. We've seen students produce amazing results even in such a small set of test cases.

5. What is your favorite lunch spot around campus?

The Farmers Market at ASU is my absolute favorite! Flavored iced teas, pulled pork sandwiches and freshly made crème brûlée – all in one place. They only happen a handful of times a semester, but the whole team looks forward to it. Every Wednesday there are food trucks parked north of campus that serve really good food too.

You can find Nolan in the Payne building on the Tempe campus.