The It Factor That Creates Science Artists

Each of the presenters during Get in the Game Saturday spoke eloquently about the moment when they connected their passion with their career.

For Charlene Coleman, it was the experience of walking with her father and a purple radio when she was two years old.   “I was just amazed that this box could produce music, so I became fascinated with electronics, and with music.”

For Rob Miles, it was the experience of meeting Gerald A. Lawson, the inventor of the first video game cartridge system at eight years old. “I thought my father was a hero, and my dad looked up to him, so I decided I wanted to be in video games.”

For Angel Inokon, it was graduate school in education at Stanford when she crafted her studies around creating games.  “I came to the Bay Area four years ago and I’ve produced 11 games since then.”

Dr. Marcus Penn told of his dilemma while completing medical school at Howard University.  His mother passed while he was taking his final board examinations.   He was in a quandary about pursuing his passion for art or his desire to help others.    “I realized I didn’t have to fit into a single frame as a doctor.  I could practice photography, become a yoga teacher and still be a public health doctor.”

While Penn spoke, a City College of San Francisco student in the audience broke down in tears,  reflecting on the moment he lost his mother five years ago.

The moving exchange spoke to the power that these scientific artists hold as a motivational force for a new generation.

Miles, customer relations manager for Sega of America, said he and his peers have the responsibility for showing youth the wide range of careers in the fast-growing fields like gaming.   He was previously operations manager for all of EA Sports titles, giving him responsibility for hiring everyone from accountants to video game testers.  “Our young people think that you have to be in art, or graphics and coding.  Those are just creative fields.  You need product marketing, you need customer service, etc.”

Coleman, now CEO of Sensory Acumen Inc., recalled working at Panasonic when she requested a transfer to the 3DO division after her first year.    She managed a marketing budget of $10 million while producing some of the most popular games.

Inokon is now producing a game called Hamster Attack about a hamster who wants to be a rock star for a Boulder, CO company.  “I get up at my home in Oakland, talk to the engineer in Colorado, and then I’ll walk to a nearby store and show the latest features in the game to people I meet.    Based on what they say, I tell the engineer whether it works for the customer.”

She said the Android mobile phone operating system allows one to create a game in mere days.

Miles said youth interested in the industry can actually go online to create new titles,which can attract the interest of major publishers.

Penn, outreach coordinator of the Department of Radiation Oncology at UC-San Francsico,  said there is a convergence between biotechnology and game technology, the two major employers in southeast San Francisco.  “We increasingly use 3-D simulations for medical images and simulations.”

The event was the kickoff for the second session of Potrero Progress, a biotechnology initiative which will focus on the science of water during the summer.