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RHS Students Get In The (Video) Game
EA Sports
Video Game Design Teacher Jon Gianelli of Riverbank High recently took his class on a field trip to EA Sports in Redwood City. Photo Contributed


Riverbank High School video game design students were recently taken on an adventure to EA Sports for a day to experience the video game industry and learn firsthand from the professionals.

Teaching three periods at Riverbank High School, Jon Gianelli has established a 3D Video Game class offered to students for the first time this year.

After discussions with Principal Sean Richey to offer students a more ambitious technical course in the new school year, Gianelli polled the students to find out what they would be most interested in, whether it be programming, 3D modeling, 3D animation, or video game design. Unanimously the students chose video game design.

At the end of the last school year, Gianelli began learning the basics of video game design and started using a program called Unreal. To teach the students to the best of his ability, Gianelli called several companies during the summer to participate in an externship with their company. Several businesses rejected his request but EA Sports accepted his request and he was connected with Zach Mumbach, who works at the Visceral branch including the Battlefield Hardline team.

“This summer I spent three days there in Redwood City and they just took me under their belt and showed me all around their campus and their studio and they are working on a game called Battlefield Hardline; they were doing maps for it,” stated Gianelli. “So I got to just spend a couple hours with each member of their team in different departments.

“That was amazing. It was so fun.”

Since his time at EA Sports, Gianelli made some connections that he has been communicating with on a regular basis that he has received homework from as well that he completes on weekends or after school.

“I really want to be prepared to teach these guys,” added Gianelli. “I really didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning but now I am actually starting to learn the industry standards and best practices. I am modeling the class off of their recommendations and the assignments that they gave me.”

The externship and relationships that Gianelli built at EA Sports led to a field trip that he was able to take his 3D Video Game Design students on recently. They had to all sign a non-disclosure agreement and were given a tour of the studios.

The students were able to see the video game professionals working on a new Star Wars game that was classified. The company treated the students to lunch and afterward they engaged in an hour long Q&A session with several staff members like the producer of Battlefield Hardline, several artists, engineers, and programmers.

Currently the class is working on creating their own video game as they learn the basic skills necessary like level design where they work with the engine and place objects. They are also learning about programming and logic.

“They use these things called blueprints which are basically visual scripting and they were all pretty successful at that,” said Gianelli. “Now they are working on a 3D modeling. They are working on building objects in a 3D environment and another big part of 3D modeling, also just a huge component in itself, is texturing and materials so once you created this object you also have to apply skin to it, determine how shiny it is, the colors, and bumps on it and all that stuff.”

EA Sports was established in 1982 and is a leading global interactive entertainment software company. Some of the games they have created include Minions Paradise, NBA Live 16, Madden NFL 16, Need for Speed, and Battlefield: Hardline to name a few.

EA Sports has invited the class back to their headquarters in May for a follow up visit before the end of the school year.