Skip to Main Content

Great game design + finding friends over time

Hear how Gianni Dimacchia ‘24 brings immersive worlds and inspired characters to life as an artist, storyteller, and video game designer

Great game design + finding friends over time

Gianni Dimacchia ‘24 brings immersive worlds and inspired characters to life as an artist, storyteller, and video game designer. We’ll also talk about being involved in eSports, balancing academic life and leisure, avoiding the pitfalls of procrastination, and about overcoming the fear of putting yourself out there to make new friends.

Featured Majors: Games + Simulation, Studio Art

Featured Organizations: Miami eSports, Marching Band

Scan the QR code below to listen on your phone. 

major insight episode 56 qr code

Read the transcript

Speaker  [::] The views and opinions expressed in this podcast by the hosts and guests may or may not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Miami University. 

Speaker  [::] Freshman year I came in undecided.

Speaker  [::] I'm finance, entrepreneurship, anthropology.

Speaker  [::] I'm a senior architecture student.

Speaker  [::] I'm involved in the blockchain club here.

Speaker  [::] I'm very passionate about studying abroad.

Speaker  [::] Classes are going great.

Speaker  [::] And then obviously very involved with my sorority.

Speaker  [::] I'm thriving.

Meredith Aliff Gianni Dimacchia loves to bring immersive worlds and inspired characters to life as an artist, storyteller, and a video game designer -- who creates meaningful and entertaining stories throughout his work.

As a Games + Simulation major, with a concentration in art, Gianni explores the writing and mechanics, usability, and creativity required to develop the kinds of games that audiences enjoy.

He's also a part of the eSports club on campus, and we’ll also talk about balancing academic life and leisure, avoiding the pitfalls of procrastination, and about overcoming the fear of putting yourself out there to purposely make new friends.

Meredith Aliff [::] The first question that I'm going to ask you is who are you? Who am I talking to today? 

Gianni Dimacchia [::] I am Gianni Dimacchia. I am a games and simulation major here at Miami University with a concentration in art.

Meredith Aliff [::] Cool. Cool. So back to before college, obviously applying to colleges, the whole process is a lot. What did that process or experience look like for you?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] So there was a lot of touring. I think I went to OSU, Miami, I went to Cincinnati a few years before I really started looking at colleges. So a lot of it was trying to find colleges that had good game design majors because that was not a common thing. So Miami was one of the few that had like an actual program for it. 

Meredith Aliff [::] So it sounds like you came in kind of knowing what your major was going to be.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Yeah. 

Meredith Aliff [::] How did you know that that's what you wanted to study? 

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Like, obviously, I've been playing video games since I was a little kid, so I always knew I wanted to do something related to art, too, because I was always drawing. So I kind of, like, weighed my options and figured I would definitely like to do something like creating video games or doing art or combining the two. I just enjoy both creating my own characters and like making up stories for them and creating art of like different characters and different series that I enjoy. 

Meredith Aliff [::] Was there any sort of pushback when you were like, Hey guys, I want to go to college and I want to design video games? What was kind of the reaction there? 

Gianni Dimacchia [::] There was a little bit of pushback. My mom was like, Okay, are you sure you don't want to, like, do something different? But when we actually toured here and spoke to Glen Platt and he like kind of went through the entire process with us, she was a lot more on board with the entire thing .

Meredith Aliff [::] Yeah, I think it's important when you come to visit to talk to people, either students in the department or professors who can actually tell you like, Hey, this is worthwhile. Like, it's really worthwhile to do this even when you're already in college. Just talk to people if you have no idea what you want to do, but you're kind of interested in chemistry. Go talk to people in a chemistry lab, you know what I mean? 

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Yeah.

Meredith Aliff [::] Super cool. What do your classes look like? Like, what kind of things do you learn about in your major?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] So a lot of it is basically how to make good games, how to make user interfaces that people can easily get into. Like different like however, a screen may be laid out for people to easily access information and then play games. And then the other part of it, a lot of it is making games and making those projects and putting all of that theory into practice. A few of these classes have a little bit of lecture where we discuss like those theories, but a lot of it is project based, whether we're writing games or creating story worlds or actually getting into groups and building these games.

Meredith Aliff [::] Okay, So it's a lot less like testing your knowledge through a test and instead kind of testing your knowledge through, okay, like you have the information now, make it.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Now going to do it. Yeah.

Meredith Aliff [::] Super neat. So what makes a great video game? And are there components of video games that you can recognize like, okay, this is a really good game, even if it might not be what you personally want to create or would want to play. 

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Oh, okay. What makes a great game? I would consider like things like story. Obviously it has to have a compelling story, but then also the user interface. The user interface is extremely important for giving people like a good experience with the game. If they can't navigate it, if like buttons don't make sense, if they're not in the right area, they're just not going to have a good time. So if a game has both of those things and it's not like any type of game I would really enjoy, I could appreciate it for being a good game.

Meredith Aliff [::] Can you give like a quick definition of kind of what the user interfaces?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Yeah. So basically the user interface entails like every button, every screen that comes up in a game, every box of text, like every menu that you go through as you're playing a game. And then also like the heads up display that you get, like for example, if you're playing like Call of Duty, like the ammo count in your health, that would be like part of the user interface.

Meredith Aliff [::] Okay, Gotcha. Something that has taken young people by storm right now. And I want your opinion. Have you downloaded Hogwarts, the new Hogwarts video game?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Not yet. I The problem is with like this workload. I have such a backlog of games I want to get to. Like I'm still playing God of war. The new God of war that came out like last year. I'm still trying to complete that, but as soon as I finish that, I will be getting Hogwarts. 

Meredith Aliff [::] Yeah, I mean, my brother had a timer set on his phone for when it was going to be available. He had it like pre saved or whatever you could do to make sure that he had that game as soon as it came out. And he's been obsessed. I'll call him every single time I call home. I'm like, What's he up? He's playing Hogwarts. Always.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] A few of my friends have just been playing it every day.

Meredith Aliff [::] That's awesome. I love it. What would like a typical day like wake up in the morning to go to sleep at night. As someone in your major or with like anything you do outside of that, what would a day look like for you?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] So I would start off in the morning. I would get up, get ready for school, and then I would go to a VR class where we talk about VR games and what makes them effective and how we can use those. And then I do get a break, so I end up going back to my apartment and just chilling out for a few hours. Then I come back to a group project class where this is actually the start of our capstone. So we're so for the next year and a half, I'm with this group and we're going to be developing like a way bigger game, which I'm really excited for. And then we kind of just test that out, talk to the professor about whatever we were going over in class. And then after that I go to animation. After that, I normally work out with my friends and then just relax for the rest of night and get some homework done. 

Meredith Aliff [::] Yeah, well, cool. So outside of class, any clubs organizations that you have been a part of or are a part of now?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] So my first two years I was in marching band and it was really fun. I liked it a lot, but this year I just couldn't really make it work with a lot of the classes I was taking. So hopefully I'll be able to come back for senior year, but it was a lot of fun. And then I'm also in the E-Sports club for the Overwatch Club teams and those are also very fun because we get to do a lot of really fun events with like other schools and different things like the other club teams. Like actually last weekend I think we went down to Cincinnati and played with Cincinnati's Overwatch team and there was like three different tournaments going on all at once and we had pizza and like there were prizes and stuff. Me and my friends actually won like one of the tournaments, which is really cool.

Meredith Aliff [::] That's awesome. That's so neat that you can like incorporate other schools too, and kind of travel for it. Well, the end is kind of in sight for us, like end of junior year. We're getting ready for the, you know, end of our college experience. What's your plan?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] So this could go a few different ways. Like, the first option that I'm looking at is trying to get a job at like a major game development studio, which I'm actually applying for internships for some of my favorite studios that I'd like to go work for, like I play their games. So hopefully I could get a job with them. But if not, there's always indie studios, like smaller studios that I can go work for with smaller teams or like solo projects. Like there's there's a few different, very well-known solo game developers that have really been successful.

Meredith Aliff [::] That sounds exciting. I hope that any of those that you decide to do it works out very well for you.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Thank you.

Meredith Aliff [::] So obviously, you've had a ton of experience leading up to talking to you today. What have been some of the biggest challenges that you feel like you've faced in college?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] So the absolute biggest challenge I think I faced was actually making friends. And that even like went into sophomore year, I still just didn't really have like a group of friends to go do things with on campus ever. And then I like started talking. I that sophomore year was when I joined the club teams for Overwatch. And that's really when like I actually met a friend group that I like started talking to and started doing things with. Then over the summer, like did more things with them and now this year we're just doing something every day.

Meredith Aliff [::] That is hard. I mean, it's kind of just opening yourself up.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Yes.

Meredith Aliff [::] Is really difficult. And you don't expect it to be. You know, I feel like, at least for me, I grew up in a small town. I left a group of people that I was very comfortable with. They'd been my friends forever. And here we are going our separate ways and it kind of hits you like, I have to do this on my own. Like, I don't have any safety net here. Like, I'm either going to make friends because I'm doing it or I'm not going to put in any effort and I'm not going to make friends. Like, yeah, and it's really scary to put yourself out there like that. But I'm glad that you found a group that has similar interests to you as well, because obviously you guys are going to immediately have something in common with each other. Yeah. Which I think fosters really good friendships. Do you have any other challenges that you would say have been tough for you through college?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Definitely. I think procrastination has always been a huge issue for me, especially with like heavy project workloads like in this major. So it's still an issue for me. I'm still waiting until like the last week to complete some of these projects. One time that I can think of is my first animation class. Like I think both my midterm and my final, I did the same thing where I was already home, like for the break, and I was just at home at like  a.m.. Trying to export this  second animation on my laptop and it was taking like  hours. And I think I think for one of them, I actually set an alarm for like  a.m. and went to sleep. I was like, okay, it should be done by five so I could turn it in.

Meredith Aliff [::] Wow.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Yeah.

Meredith Aliff [::] Oh, good grief. That's Wild. That's so funny. You're like, Let me just take like, a three hour.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Yeah.

Meredith Aliff [::] And then we'll wake back up and see where we are. Yeah. Procrastination. No matter what major you're in, or whether it's a project or a test or even just a homework assignment. I mean, it's hard. I really struggle with procrastination as well, and it's a habit that you build. I mean, starting in middle school.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Yeah.

Meredith Aliff [::] You know, but word to the wise, it's going to get harder and harder to procrastinate the more higher up you go. And I think I'm a prime example of that. There have definitely been times that I'm really struggling because I've been able to be like, Oh, I can write a two page paper and  hours. Yeah, I've done it before. I did it in high school, but I'm writing about harder stuff now. 

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Exactly.

Meredith Aliff [::] It's research. Yeah, it's like you got to cite your sources and it's harder. It's a lot harder. What is, this is, every it takes people a while. They got to think about it when I ask this question. But what is the single best decision that you've ever made in college?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] That is a tough question. But I do think joining the E-Sports club was like the best thing I could have done.

Meredith Aliff [::] Yeah. Yeah. Why would you say that?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Just friends meeting people there was the easiest way for me to meet people, and without it, I still probably wouldn't have any friends on campus at all, so. 

Meredith Aliff [::] Well, I mean, yeah, definitely. And I think finding your group is just as important as being academically successful.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Yes.

Meredith Aliff [::] I mean, you have to enjoy yourself.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Exactly.

Meredith Aliff [::] And just work and be like, that'll be enough. Like, I'll make it through. You won't make it through. Like, you've got to immerse yourself in college to make it.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Just meet people. 

Meredith Aliff [::] Yeah. And you're getting the opportunity to travel and potentially meet more people. Other people similar to you? Yep. Super cool. I love that answer. Great. And then if you could talk to yourself, think about baby Gianna right before college. What advice would you give yourself?

Gianni Dimacchia [::] I would say to make connections earlier and to not worry as much about actual schoolwork.

Meredith Aliff [::] Yeah.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] I did just focus so much more on schoolwork the first couple of years, and I don't know, I feel like I missed out on a bit.

Meredith Aliff [::] I agree. I think it's really hard to find a balance of like, how much time should I put into work? How much time should I put into these organizations? How much time should I put into relaxing. I think one thing that's been really difficult for me and probably everyone is like, it's okay to just sit around and hang out like you don't need to feel guilty for not going and going and going and like studying all the time and I had a really hard time with that. My first couple of years of college, I would feel really guilty for not doing something for school or something like that. But it's not that deep.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Yeah, it's not. It's like sometimes I still feel like that, but it's not that deep. Yeah, it's just better to just give yourself time to relax if you need it.

Meredith Aliff [::] Absolutely. Well, thank you. It has been so nice talking with you, and I'm excited to see where you go.

Gianni Dimacchia [::] Thank you. 

Meredith Aliff

Gianni Dimacchia is a Games + Simulation major with a concentration in Game Art and a minor in studio art at Miami University. After graduation he plans to pursue a career in the game industry.

And thank you for listening to Major insight. If you enjoyed this podcast, share it with your friends or anyone interested in college life. Many more episodes are now available wherever podcasts are found.

Major Insight is a roadmap for college students who wish to find their place and purpose on campus. Each episode features real stories with real students who are successfully navigating 21st century university life.