Unconventional opportunities rewarding

By Greg Burleson and By Greg Burleson

“Unconventional” seems to be a buzzword in my life.

I attended four universities on two continents– studying history at each–before graduating from Bowling Green State University, and I could not possibly be more pleased with the decisions which have brought me to my current standing in life.

American culture and universities have established a prototypical view of a conventional track in life; go to school, get good grades, get a job in your field, have a house, have 2.3 children and a dog. However, the unconventional track is always an option, even if it’s not addressed.

The world is changing more rapidly than our cultural, preconceived ideas of tracks in life can keep up with. Colleges and universities are not trade schools or apprenticeships, and we shall no longer envision our chosen degree as a career track we must study, pursue and remain in.

At a time when one of my previous universities is pushing for students to work towards a conventional life plan– I believe it is important to share my path.

My decision to pass up an opportunity for postgraduate education ensured my unconventional path for the moment that I would not pursue academia as a profession. While conventional thought is that a history degree is a funnel to academia, this is not always true. Further to the point, my decision to not pursue a postgraduate degree has not eliminated my opportunities within the education field.

As I mentioned, the world is changing and new marriages in interdisciplinary fields are being created faster than we can keep up with. Liberal arts degrees remain the perfect field of study to exploit these changing markets.

I am currently employed in the tech industry, I serve as “Director of Research” for an emerging video game company based out the largest up-and-coming tech market in the world- Orlando, Florida. My company, Cherry Pie Games (www.cherrypiegames.com), is an emerging company- particularly with virtual reality technologies as we develop for new and exciting products like the Oculus Rift, Wearality Sky, Leap Motion, Razer Forge and numerous others.

What is most exciting about this company is that it embodies an unconventional track. The company is owned by four young and diverse individuals made up of two artists, a programmer and a linguist who handles marketing and development. An influential part of this company’s success is contingent upon their flexibility and ability to break from conventional thought, and that is exactly how they like to operate.

Current development is on a Tony Hawk meets Crazy Taxi style game named “Tacopocalypse” in which the player is navigating an apocalyptic environment while delivering tacos; a playable pre-alpha demo is currently available online. While the rest of my team develops this game, I am busy using my skills within history to look to the future.

Our next pipeline project is a large, expanded follow-up to “Hollow,” a previous project which continues to gain us notoriety within the field. “Emmerholt” will take place in the same universe, that of an inventive role-playing game set within the time period of the Revolutionary War and the setting of the Headless Horseman. My role remains a perfect blend of education and entertainment as I collect resources to help make the game as historically relevant as possible.

My preexisting knowledge of Revolutionary War era New England society is only as well thoroughly research as that of the next antiquities specialist; however, what I learned in my liberal arts degree was not a series of dates, names and places but, instead, the ability to seek out information, the ability to collect it and the ability to understand this information within the proper context.

In an age where, if one more person tells me the movie “300” was “fairly accurate” I might lose my mind, I have the ability to positively influence the way history is viewed in popular culture.

From an aesthetic point of view, I am able to provide historically accurate reference material for concept art, not only to affect the landscape of a game but also inspire the storyline.

Going forward there have been many ideas thrown around the Cherry Pie Games office about making games that are not only entertaining but also educational through their historical accuracy. My favorite idea is an open world Roman RPG that would involve recreating Roman buildings and architecture that is accurate down to each brick. Developing a world this large and in depth that is based on true events would involve utilizing the knowledge of many sources including historian experts.

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