When Aaron Thibault became an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Computer Science at Baylor this spring, the excitement of gaming development students (and their professors) was almost tangible. Having been an active member of the industry for more than 14 years and serving in both commercial and academic posts, Thibault's immense knowledge of gaming is preparing students to take their skills to the next level.
As vice president of product development at Gearbox Software located in Plano, Texas, Thibault is responsible for production and staffing of all projects. While at Gearbox, he has worked on hits such as Borderlands 2, Aliens and Brothers in Arms: Furious 4.
He also has experience in entertainment production, military research and development and academia, including launching the IC2 Institute at the University of Texas and serving as deputy director and senior lecturer at SMU's Guildhall graduate program in videogame arts and sciences.
The time spent teaching and researching was a highlight for Thibault, but his desire to return to commercial game development led him to his current company, Gearbox Software.
"Gearbox has a great team," says Thibault. "I'm able to work directly with the founders of the company, who are awesome game makers, having made some games I loved playing: Counter Strike, Tony Hawk, and Halo PC."
Thibault began his relationship with Baylor as a visiting lecturer in the film and digital media classes of both Drs. Corey Carbonara and Michael Korpi. These experiences led to deeper involvement with Baylor. In January he began teaching the computer science capstone course for game development. Integrating industry professionals like Thibault into this growing program gives Baylor students a special opportunity to learn directly from one of the best in the industry. They will be the beneficiaries of hands-on instruction and practical advice from one who understands and daily deals with the rapidly changing landscape of the industry.
Thibault believes students have an incredible opportunity to see the fruits of their labor very quickly in the current environment as games can be quickly created and published through iTunes, Steam, Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, among others.
His advice? Start learning now.
"There's a ton of pickup game programming opportunities available. Students should find hobby projects and actually complete game projects," says Thibault. "Find what's really interesting to you and work to improve each and every day."