Sabrina Sobral

The Art of Game Design:
Working hard or hardly working

Ian Guinn, David Scott, Rachel Jones and Skyler Bloom (from left to right) work on Bortal, inspired by the game Portal. — Photo by Sabrina Sobral

Here at Miami University, down in the basement of King’s Library, there is a Summer Scholars module called The Art of Game Design. This two-week course is led by Miami’s very own, Dr. Phill Alexander. During the school year, Alexander primarily teaches game studies/writing, and e-sports classes. During his summer class,  however, his students have been focusing on game mechanics and design by playing video games, board games and card games. 

Christopher Norris and Miriam Kleit team up for Art of the Game. — Photo by Sabrina Sobral

By doing this, the students gained ideas for creating their own games, physical and virtual. Skyler Bloom, Ian Guinn, Rachel Jones and David Scott were a few of many students who created a physical game within their first week. They took ideas from the popular computer game “Portal” to create “Bortal” or Portal the Board Game (pictured, below). 

The second week, students grouped up to create their own video games using the software Game Maker 2.3. This platform allows students to enter code to make “sprites” or animations (which they also created) perform desired actions. Art of the Game partners Miriam Kleit and Christopher Norris (pictured, right) explained their game as a twist on the classic “kill the bad guy” game. They created a virtual dungeon and placed characters in it to kill the hero trying to take them down.

Miriam Kleit displays some of her coding work. — Photo by Sabrina Sobral

While Kleit wrote the code, Norris was creating animations. They said learned the skills during their time at Miami, as did their classmates. It was quite obvious that this amazing bunch of kids have bright futures ahead of them.

“We’re a weird group,” stated Rachel Jones, laughing with her peers at all the “imaginative” work they created while studying at Miami this summer.

Five Questions with Ceili Doyle

Question: What do you do as a journalism major at Miami University?

Answer: At Miami I’m usually always rushing (and late) from one place to the next. I am majoring in journalism and political science and I also have a Spanish minor. This upcoming semester I am serving as The Miami Student’s managing editor and I’ll also be taking four classes on top of being an undergraduate assistant for Jim Tobin’s “Writing in the Media” freshmen scholars class. For The Student my pet project this year will be focused on launching our audio presence. We’ll be releasing new episodes for two podcasts (one will be weekly and the other biweekly).  In between all of the hooplah I try to find time to hang out with my friends, cook, exercise somewhat and enjoy my last year here at Miami.

Q: As a new journalist, is there anything you are doing to try and make your writing stand out?  
A: As a young reporter I think the best thing you can do is seek out help and advice from those who are experienced. Everything I do well I’ve stolen or adopted from my mentors. Our adviser at TMS, Jim Tobin, has been an instrumental influence on my writing (and life!) and I wouldn’t be where I am today without his guidance and support. At the Dispatch I am constantly asking other reporters and editors for advice, edits and help. I talk a lot, so a personal goal of mine for the summer has been to try and listen more (hopefully with the idea that I’ll learn and absorb more if I’m not yapping away all the time). As far as the mechanics of writing go journalism has a bad rap for not being a venue for creative writing, which I think is bogus. The best journalistic writing includes the details, literary devices and colorful language and that’s what I try to employ even in the most mundane stories.
Q: Has interning at the Columbus Dispatch taught you anything to help your writing at Miami and possibly anything for the future?
A: The Dispatch has helped me a great deal this summer. It’s one thing to sit in a college newsroom surrounded by equally passionate kids, bouncing ideas off of each other, and it’s a totally different experience to be in real newsroom in the “real world.” I think more than anything working at The Dispatch has given me a real dose of what to expect post-grad, which has been hugely helpful. Journalism is facing a great deal of challenges across the country: layoffs, lack of job stability, mergers with corporate media conglomerates … it’s a little overwhelming, and it’s good to be prepared and thinking about those sorts of things. I can’t ever imagine doing anything else but journalism, but it’s good to be aware of uphill battle. Over the past couple of months I also think my reporting skills have improved and I’ve had a greater access to databases, archive systems and general records, which is dope.
Q: What kinds of stories are you doing now and how do you think they impact people and their communities?
A: At school I’m in more of a managerial role now, but have covered cops, courts, alcohol abuse and mental health-related issues pretty extensively. I also love feature writing and doing profiles. At The Dispatch I’ve done a lot on the cops beat while dipping my toes into some features and other enterprise ideas. Every story I write I always try to capture the truth and spirit of the people and places I write about. Most of the time people just want to be heard and feel like their stories and voices are important. I think taking the time to listen has the greatest impact. Yes, a good chunk of journalism is about holding power to account and making sure that authority figures are responsible for their actions, BUT, I also think a huge (and arguably more important part) of journalism is heart. You can’t write well without empathy. If you don’t care it shows. And having the ability to empathize with the people, places and communities you write for and about is an incredibly valuable skill.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: Ha! Hopefully employed. I have the next 18 months charted out on a plan that probably won’t unfold in real life like it does in my head, but I guess in five years I hope to be working in journalism (in a city preferably). My dream job is to be a features reporter at The Washington Post, so we’ll see! For now, I’m just focused on making the most of my senior year.

Sydney Peppe is back on crutches with a stress fracture, after knee surgery in January. — Photo by Sabrina Sobral

Sydney Peppe:
Smiley-face scars

Sydney Peppe, 16, from Ashburn, Virginia, became interested in running in the third grade because both of her parents are runners. She has been running steadily ever since and even participated in her high school’s cross country team for two years, until the pain began.

Since she began running at such a young age, her pre-existing condition, Synovial Plica Syndrome (SPS), became a noticeable issue after her second year running cross country. Plica is the tissue that grows around the kneecap in the womb to help fetal development, but is usually absorbed before birth. In Peppe’s case, however, her plica continued to grow all the way around the inner sides of both her knees up until her double knee surgery in January 2019. However, Peppe was misdiagnosed with tendonitis for several years and it was not until after a previous surgery to remove a tumor in her left knee that the syndrome became evident.

After being told doctors would have to go back into her knees for surgery, Peppe thought of the good and continued to keep radiating positivity. Peppe loves life and, especially with the support of friends and family, surgery was not going to stop her from living it. Arthroscopically, doctors went into both knees to clip the plica down to a reasonable size. Peppe could not walk for one week, post-surgery, but that did not prevent her from going to physical therapy and being back at school one month later.

“I was thriving. I even finished ‘The Office,’ ” she says, thinking back to her week of bed rest.

She resumed running soon after and says she’s never loved it more. Peppe still laughs at her “smiley face scars” on both knees and uses them as a reminder to stay positive. Although she has faced a lot, head on, she remains hopeful and happy with her recovery. She thinks of her experience as only a small step back rather than an anchor, tying her down.

Karina Hollenkamp: Coping through karate

Karina Hollenkamp remains active in karate for friends and support. — Contributed photo

Karina Hollenkamp, 16, from Loveland, Ohio, found a way to cope with her mother’s passing through a sport that keeps her “focused and aware of [herself] and [her] surroundings.”

For many people, karate serves a way to get in shape, try something new or even to let out some anger. For Hollenkamp, however, karate brought friends and support.

Back when Hollenkamp was in kindergarten,  she and her mother attended classes together at the Five White Tigers Martial Arts gym in Cincinnati, Ohio. At this time, she earned her orange belt in the sport, but then stopped partaking in martial arts. Unfortunately, the year she was in second grade, her mother passed away. By eighth grade, after reconnecting with some of her mother’s friends who still practiced at Five White Tigers, Hollenkamp decided to give karate another try.  Since then, Hollenkamp has achieved the status of a black belt and recognizes that the sport brings balance to her life.

It has been four years since she’s started practicing again and she says it is getting more and more difficult, but she loves it and the people she found there to support her. 

After two weeks as a journalist, what I now know

Throughout these two weeks with Summer Scholars, I have learned so much about journalism, writing and other mediums within this profession. We took many tours and spoke with professionals who gave us deep insight on their struggles and where they have succeeded within the world of journalism. Going into this, I knew I wanted to study communications and public relations in college. Now, I know I still want to do that because being a journalist is hard! After performing countless interviews, virtually and in person, I have learned that one has to be fully prepared before jumping into a conversation about someone’s life or career.

Sabrina Sobral, working a camera in Williams Hall, is aiming to study communications in college. — Photo by Patricia Gallagher Newberry

Fortunately, after two weeks I have learned how to do an interview properly, allowing me to interview other participants in the Summer Scholars program. Learning about another module — Art of Game Design — was my favorite part of this whole experience. Being able to sit in and really see what other kids are doing here was incredible. I am not a tech and computer person, so being a part of that world for a day was such an amazing experience that only a journalist can have. Journalism is something that I learned, has many ups and downs. The current world of journalism is shifting from print to digital, with websites being visited more than newspapers are being bought. This is hard for many journalists and it is a big change everyone has to learn to work with. The job itself is demanding and I have truly gained a sense of great respect for journalists and what they do. It is not something I see myself doing, necessarily, but I was happy to have had this opportunity to meet so many great people and friends and to learn so much about one of the most important jobs out there. Journalists are really “the original historians” and they will continue to inform and spread awareness to the public for time to come, even with media and other struggles in their way. 

About the author

Sabrina Sobral (right) and close friend Izzy Fondazio enjoy a trip to the Ice Cream Museum in San Francisco. — Contributed photo

Sixteen-year-old Sabrina Sobral lives just north of San Francisco, California, with her parents, younger sister and her absolutely adorable pitbull mix (Duda) and tabby cat (Peeps). She will be continuing her education as an incoming senior at Marin Catholic High School, where she is excited to be the captain/ president of multiple teams and clubs. Along with varsity lacrosse, cross country, and yearbook, Sobral spends lots of free time out with friends and family usually enjoying the beauty of her hometown. Hiking over beautiful Mt. Tam, swimming at Stinson Beach, and driving over the Golden Gate Bridge to enjoy what the city has to offer are just a few memorable things she does with her weekends in (usually) sunny California. Looking ahead, Sobral is excited about her future, and will most likely pursue a major in communication or public relations. She also hopes to study abroad during her college years, expanding her knowledge of languages with the continuation of her learning Spanish, possibly in Spain. In addition to English,  she also speaks some Portuguese.