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Aaron Shea '18 Turns Love of Computer Games into a Job and a Development Grant


Posted 06/29/2015
Posted by Meagan Fazio


Aaron Shea '18 demonstrates the Oculus Rift headset he uses to view games in 3D.

Aaron Shea '18 demonstrates the Oculus Rift headset he uses to view games in 3D.

Aaron Shea’s 3D glasses and crystal clear monitor display look like something out of a gamer’s dream. But for this sophomore computer science major in the University of Hartford’s College of Arts and Sciences, they are tools of the trade. Shea hopes to make a career out of creating computer games. He is well on his way thanks to a $7,000 grant from Epic Games.

When he’s not in class or working at his job as a developer at Digital Surgeons in New Haven, Conn., Shea is busy with Epic’s Unreal Engine, a technology that allows students to make games for free. It includes source codes and other tools; users just need to supply their creativity and hard work. Shea is making a plug-in that allows a player to use a web browser within the game. He has already made his plug-in available to the gaming community and the developers at Epic were so impressed they gave him a grant to purchase more sophisticated equipment. Watch the video for Shea's demonstration of how it works:



Shea uses an Oculus Rift headset to design and play his games in 3D. When one looks into the headset, it is hard to tell where the actual world ends and the computerized one begins. Shea brought the glasses to an on-campus fair in April. Those who tried them on could be seen reaching out to touch objects that weren’t really there and throwing up their hands while “riding” a virtual rollercoaster. This feature can make games more entertaining, educational, and interactive.(Watch the Unreal Engine 4 trailer below.)

“It started as fun, but over time I’ve seen a lot of people start to use it,” Shea explains. “Now that it’s been verified by Epic games and they think it’s worthy enough to have funding, I think it’s transitioning into something a little more serious. This could be used for a number things. You could have a 3D computer inside a game browse the internet like you were in real life. For example, if you are trying to solve a puzzle, the plug-in would add more depth to the interaction between the player and the game.”

Shea took up computer programming when he was 10-years-old. He started with what he calls “silly little games,” but quickly moved on to more advanced challenges. “I became interested in the idea of telling a story through a game in a world that no one else had made and actually walking around inside it and exploring it,” he explains. “That’s why I have an Oculus. It really puts you inside the world.”
Aaron Shea '18 demonstrates the Oculus Rift headset he uses to view games in 3D.

Aaron Shea '18 demonstrates the Oculus Rift headset he uses to view games in 3D.