Published on September 7, 2023 by Anne Madison Adcock  
Jonathan Dunning

The recently launched game design and 3D animation program is gaining traction. Two upper-class game design majors share their experience in the program.

Senior, Jonathan Dunning, was initially plugged into Samford University when he participated in ANIMATE, a week-long program put on by Samford’s Center for Worship and the Arts each summer. Jonathan officially decided to join Samford University as a graphic design major. That same year, Instructor of Digital Arts, William “Wink” Winkler helped kickstart the game design and 3D animation program. After researching the new program and speaking with Wink, it was a no-brainer for Jonathan to switch his major to game design. The program was a perfect combination of his interests in digital art, drawing and technology.

jonathan dunning droid artIn addition to his school-based projects, Jonathan also enjoys going back to his roots in traditional drawing with pencil and paper. He has recently commissioned pet portraits and describes his love for creating works that give personal connection and significance to others.

"Creating art is like reading a book; it tells a story,” said Jonathan. “Making artwork that inspires and means something to others is what drives my work."

Game Design StudentLike Jonathan, Leland Vickery, current junior in game design, expresses the creative outlet the game design program provides, enabling her to use her gifts in story-telling and to serve others through her artwork. In high school, Leland built her first game, Candy Collectors, in a game design program called Roblox. After her game gained over 56 thousand followers, she realized she could use her talent for game design as a career path. After visiting campus and talking with Wink, she joined Samford University in the game design program.

“What set Samford apart from other schools I was looking at was the sense of community,” said Leland.

When asked what her favorite part of the game design process is, she explained how she enjoys connecting and collaborating with her classmates in the coding process. She also appreciates the initial research and information-gathering process. In a recent RPG (Role Playing Game) she created about an Australian bounty hunter, she relished researching the geographic data of Australian towns to give an accurate depiction of her game’s environment.

Leland Vickery Game DesignLeland recently declared a concentration in environment modeling, which allows her to pair her passions in story-telling and programming through game design, and her natural eye for art and design through environment modeling.

“I’ve always been an imaginative person,” said Leland. “Ever since I was six, I’ve been writing stories and drawing out ideas. It’s a natural gift that’s been given to me that I want to use to serve others. I would love to bring joy to people through the games that I create.”
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.