Major: Game Design and Development
Lexie Wilterdink grew up playing games. She also loved writing and realized that she should combine her two hobbies into a career path.
While studying Game Design and Development at College of DuPage, she was part of a team that won a gold medal in Interactive Application and Video Game Development (College Division) at the 2017 SkillsUSA National Leadership Conference.
Wilterdink and fellow students Tucker Wolf, Adel Labadi and Sam Wohlrab spent more than five months developing a virtual reality-enabled game called “Fracture.” The four-member team took a silver medal in the SkillsUSA state competition behind another College of DuPage team. However, the state champions were unable to attend the national competition, and because only two-member teams can compete at nationals, Wilterdink and Wolf were selected to present their team’s game.
The SkillsUSA competition consisted of an exam, which covered game design, game art and programming questions; documentation, which included marketing materials; and a demonstration of the game itself to show functionality, complexity and artistry. Wilterdink and Wolf pitched “Fracture” to attendees and judges, who played it live.
“Fracture” is the brainchild of Wilterdink, who wanted a game that could both educate people about mental illness while entertaining them with a horror-based scenario. She created a storyline about a man with Alzheimer’s who, in a moment of lucidity, realizes that something is wrong in his home.
“Mental illness isn’t discussed widely, and I wanted to do something that was not represented in videos or books,” she said. “I have family members dealing with this, so I spoke with people and did a lot of online research through such organizations as the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. I learned about what memories people would have and how they would act.
“I also like horror movies and the sudden twist or thrill. I’ll never be one to make a happy story, so I wanted to go for the big shock factor.”
After graduating with her associate’s degree in Game Design and Development, she is currently taking creative writing classes to add to her portfolio. Her goal is to become a narrative designer, which is the person who writes the story and dialogue for video games.
She said “Fracture” was the perfect way to combine an educational experience about a serious topic with the surprising nature of a video game.
“I don’t ever want to imply that mental illness always leads to bad things. I just want to examine something never portrayed in games and make it relatable,” she said.
Wilterdink believed in her game and enjoyed the experience of working with her team and competing at SkillsUSA.
“It was thrilling and a relief when we won, because everyone’s games were really good,” she said. “Game design is not an easy field to get into, and the competition pushed me into going for what I want, and it confirmed this is the right path for me.”