Meet Zachary Holtzman

Zachary Holtzman Degree Visualization (1)

B.A. INDS: Interactive Game Design

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Fall 2018 Capstone

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My INDS Degree

My goal and passion is game writing. I have been creating narratives for video games almost as long as I have been playing them. At six years old, I began making stories for my player character in a flight simulator game called Red Baron 3D. Crimson Skies, a similar game, was the first game I played that had a built-in narrative. By high school, I had become immersed in the massive science fiction lore of Bungie Studios’ Halo universe. I decided to research the job requirements for game writers. To my surprise, I found that game writers were interdisciplinary. Their primary role was (and still is) to write narratives and quests for games. They possess writing skills and a great knowledge of literature tropes. However, video game narratives are (usually) presented in sections, chapters, or levels. Each section is a piece of the plot. Every time players complete an objective, they are rewarded with another quest or mission, thus unlocking more of the story. Game writers are level designers. They must know how to program their story’s progression into the game’s layout. Interfaces and interactive design of the game’s environment bring the story to the player in a specific sequence. What I discovered was that writing alone was not enough. I needed to combine my writing skills with a knowledge of programming and systems design. I stumbled on the UMBC Interdisciplinary Studies Program by accident. During a search for transfer school options, I found that UMBC offered a program that allowed me to build a major that catered to my needs.


Degree Mentors

  •  Christopher Varlack, English
  •  Helena Mentis, Information Systems
  • Steven McAlpine, Individualized Study

Post Graduation Plans

Immediately after graduation, I plan on entering the independent film industry full-time in order to enhance my portfolio with hands-on experience, which will increase my desirability as an employee for a production company such as Session One Media or HRM Incorporated. In the long- term, I intend to pursue a master’s degree in marketing or a master’s of fine arts in film production before working with a larger production company such as Paramount Pictures or using my experience to create my own.


Courses In My INDS Degree

To understand fictional narrative development and examples of great characters in literature.(ENGL 271, 272, 291, 375 / INDS 400H )

To obtain introductory programming skills along with knowledge of basic project management and collaboration in a computer science and/or information systems environment. (CMSC 201, 202 / IS 300, 303, 403, 438): I will effectively incorporate corporate goals and determine how to achieve those goals effectively. (MGMT 210/ENTR 330, 320, 201, 200)

To study artistic concepts that build on written content in order to make visually compelling games.:(ART 210, 211, 214, 380)

To study the process of learning in gameplay and to research professional examples of teaching through game narratives.: (HIST 311 / INDS 410 / PSYC 210, 340)

To fulfill my INDS requirements and learn how to integrate the required disciplines as a whole.: (INDS 330, 335, 399, 410, 430H, 480, 490H)