Professor sculpts his childhood dream into a profession

October 07, 2022

Headshot of Jonah Warren

As a child, Jonah Warren asked for a gaming system for Christmas each year. After never getting one, Warren was determined to simply make his own games.

Warren, associate professor of game design and development in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been notified that Choppy Copies, his new virtual reality game focused on recreating famous sculptures, has been nominated for an IndieCade award.

“I’m thrilled to be nominated for an IndieCade award. I’ve been a huge fan of independent games in general and of IndieCade as a festival for many years,” said Warren. “As a creative developer working in a field which, to many, has been defined by the output of huge profit-driven companies, having alternative spaces like IndieCade that prioritize experimentation, innovation and diversity feels critically important.”

Choppy Copies is a fast-paced virtual reality sculpting game that gives players the opportunity to practice and appreciate the skills associated with sculpture in a fun, light-hearted way.

“I was not expecting Choppy Copies to be nominated. It’s a game that I’ve been slowly working on for more than a year now, making incremental improvements,” said Warren. “It’s nice to have that effort be validated. It’s also wonderful to see it in such great company. I think the range of genres and experiences provided by the other nominees is a testament to the potential of the medium.”

Choppy Copies was inspired by a previous creation of Warren’s called Sloppy Forgeries. This led Warren to think a lot about marking space in three dimensions and games that could use this type of interaction.

“One of the most powerful moments in designing games happens the first time I’m able to interact with a system I’ve designed,” said Warren. “A lot can come into focus. It can open up huge spaces of possibility hidden to me moments earlier. Another amazing moment is when I’m lucky enough to see others enjoy interacting with something I’ve made in completely new and unanticipated ways.”

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