Academy Foundation Scholarships


Lee Opfer

Lee is currently in her junior year at Purdue University, pursuing a Computer Graphics Technology degree with a keen interest in 3D animation. Besides her impressive art background, Lee has taken steps towards becoming a leader amongst her peers – she is president of a student organization called Special Interest Group Game Development (SIGGD), tutors students athletes and also has big plans to send members to the Independent Games Festival (IGF). Read more about what inspires Lee on a daily basis below.

How did you first get interested in pursuing a career in the gaming industry?

Back in high school, I was required to do a senior Capstone project, and I wanted to know more about the gaming industry from my interest in playing games. How companies could create such imaginative and immersive worlds was what astounded me most all those years ago. I worked with a mentor on designing a PSP game cover for a hypothetical game, but I never imagined how deep and diverse the field actually was back then from just making a cover.

What do you enjoy most about studying Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University?

I really, really enjoy bringing life and feel to a model.  What was once grey and boring becomes real and alive with personality when I apply textures, shaders, and materials. I always look forward to the time I can paint and apply what I see in my mind and make the model something more than a grey blob in space.

Tell us about your challenges and favorite parts about working with texture modelling.

Some challenges with texturing is making the seams match up and be unnoticeable. Texturing skin can be tricky trying to make it match up and seamless, where clothing is more forgiving since there’s already seams in real life clothes.

My favorite part is making the textures, looking around me to see the grains of wood in tables, scuffs on the floor or walls, or the semi translucence of skin and imitating them to bring this sense of realism and believability into the work.  It’s so much fun.

What is your favorite game that you worked on so far? Please describe the journey.

My favorite game that I’ve worked on so far is called Animal Armies, a 2D isotropic game where you control an army of animals and defeat the other teams. It was made in my club, Special Interest Group Game Development, and the overall atmosphere was awesome. We worked, we played, we went to watch movies.  It was a fun, friendly atmosphere that made me work that much harder because I wanted to make this game and have my friends enjoy it. I was promoted to Art Lead that game and critiqued and fixed the other artists’ work to match the art style as well as made a bunch of tiles we didn’t have yet. It was a lot of work, but the fun made it all worth it.

Could you tell us one of the first games you remember playing?  What is your current favorite game (and why)?

One of the first games I remember playing was Spyro. The world was bright and happy, funny, and so imaginative. Plus, you played as a purple dragon. When do you ever play as a dragon nowadays? Not in any games I’ve come across.

Speaking of dragons, the Dragon Age series is my favorite.  Really, anything BioWare makes is probably going to be in my top list because the stories they create are so good.  I love Dragon Age specifically because I’ve always liked the fantasy genre.  There’s a richness of lore and story BioWare executes so well, as well as the high customization of your character makes it a little more personal and imaginative.  I am super excited for Inquisition.

What is your dream job after you graduate? How would you like to positively impact the games industry?

My dream job after I graduate would be an artist in the games industry, specifically a texture artist.

I would love to encourage more women to make games and change the industry to accept women as peers.  It’s a fight right now to gain that respect and acceptance, which I hope won’t last long.

What inspires you on a daily basis?

Playing a wide range of games, from AAA to Indie, inspires me daily, as well as having an incredibly supportive boyfriend who loves games as much as I do.  Playing high budget games to low budget ones really opens my eyes to a range of different ideas and executions in each game.  Indie games definitely have a lot of freedom to try something that big companies can’t because of contracts, but big companies have the resources to make massive games and push the limits of hardware.  It’s really interesting to see the differences and think about what went into them.