By Sue Botos
Alyssa Herman, joked, in a recent interview, that her winning a $10,000 scholarship may be an indication of a good baseball season as well. “They called on April Fool’s Day when I was at the Indians’ opener, and they (the Indians) started to come back right when I got the call,” said Herman.
Although the Tribe lost the game, the Magnificat senior was awarded her scholarship, for winning first place in the game art and design category of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s 2011 High School Portfolio Scholarship Competition. While most parents would rather see their children doing something besides playing video games, Herman’s parents David and Suellen Herman are probably thrilled that their daughter spent so much time with a controller in her hand; thrilled to the tune of $25,000. On April 28, she got word that she had won best in show, and an additional $15,000.
“I really like video games and I’ve been drawing since fourth or fifth grade,” said Herman, adding that she is mostly a self-taught artist. Most of her work, she said is inspired by Anime, a Japanese comic book style of art.
Herman also explained that there is more to video games than zapping aliens. She worked closely with her teachers for background on her project, which involved the development of an original video game, as well as the art work. Entrants were required to submit five original drawings and a written statement describing the game plot. Characters were to be hand-drawn, as well as descriptions of costumes or weapons.
“I started in October of 2010 and finished most of the basic plot in March,” said Herman of her game “Eden Genesis of the New World”. Her main character “Saya” is a military officer in a post nuclear holocaust world. Herman said that many aspects went into the game, such as history, to determine which cities were most likely to be targeted in nuclear attack, and biology to theorize what kind of creature could survive.
Far from being only for loners, Herman said that she has made many friends in the video game world, even from as far away as Australia. She said she goes to tournaments , where a typical five dollar entry fee from each player goes toward the winner. Her favorite game, she said, is “Super Smash Brothers Brawl”.
Herman said she keeps in touch with her advisor at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Alisha Kasing, on a weekly basis. “I could not be prouder of Alyssa,” said Kasing, when reached by phone. “She spent more hours on her project than the other entrants combined and she won by a landslide,” said Kasing.
In what is usually seen a male dominated field, Kasing said the runner up was a girl as well. Kasing added that Herman will have a bright future in video game design.
As for that future, Herman said that after graduation from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, she plans to take her talents to the North Coast. “I want to own my own studio some day and I want to open one in Cleveland,” she said.