Rob Howard

Hello! If you have found this, it probably means you are one of those curious sorts who saw this link on my syllabus- welcome! My official mission statement follows below, but before I get into all that, I wanted to be a little bit more casual first. I grew up in a tiny town, around 2000 people and one stoplight. Perhaps because of this, I always dreamed big- and video game design was my first dream. But when I grew up, nobody had any clue how to direct a young person in the right direction if they had that interest. So my second dream was (and is) music! And somehow, very strangely, I have this strange and wonderful career that went from jazz guitar player to video game designer to professor teaching video game design. One more quick thing before I start my official mission statement: I remember very fondly my first guitar teacher, who is named John. I thought he was super cool because he knew how to do the thing I wanted to learn (playing guitar) and had all of these awesome experiences doing it. I do recall sometime around the first handful of guitar lessons something he told me: so matter-of-fact that I'm not sure I reacted to it. He said, "I'm a Christian. I follow Jesus." And then off we went to guitar lesson content. If you are a student of mine, I offer this to you in the same matter-of-fact spirit as my dear friend John once did: I'm a Christian. I follow Jesus. I hope you find the following mission statement, which attempts to explain my philosophy as a video game creator (and creative in general) to be compelling. Why I Create: I create because God created me: Genesis 1:26: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Human beings are creative because God is creative. My drive to create is a reflection of my Maker. Why I Teach the Creation of Digital Worlds: Video games are digital worlds. They are ultimate expressions of sub-creation. I believe that I was made partly for the purpose of creating these digital worlds: Ephesians 2:10: “God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things he had already planned for us to do.” Creating is a good thing! It is a further good to teach how to create with our modern tools. The Culmination of All Creativity: There is no greater creative work than Heaven itself. Only in Heaven do the worlds we learn to create in any medium come to true fruition. Indeed, all acts of culture are redeemed in Heaven: Revelation 21:24 “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.” What This Means for Me: That I encourage students to skillfully create in the medium of digital entertainment. That I prayerfully reflect on how I can best help students and faculty be more effective sub-creators. That the results of those reflections become actions in my curriculum and research. That my actions and life as a creator be used by the Holy Spirit to move those in my sphere to Christ. That I maintain discipleship (studying the Bible, engaging in regular worship and church activity, and praying) so my work is aligned with the Holy Spirit. That my faith and work life be one and the same, not separate entities.

My Life

Favorite Quote

“Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.” - Tolkien “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated: but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. . . . This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” —C.S. Lewis

Friends describe me

Positive (probably annoyingly so, if they are being honest), talkative (once I get to know you), and maybe just a tad bit absurd.

My hobbies

Jazz guitar, video games (of course), reading, especially non-fiction, low-carb dieting.

Fantasy dinner guests

The Inklings (Tolkien, CS Lewis, etc.), Hideo Kojima, Ty Cobb, Bobby Lane, Toshihiro Kondo, Shigeru Miyamoto, Joseph Fares, Hulk Hogan

My undergrad alma mater

Bowling Green State University

My worst subject in school

Math (this is amusing to me in retrospect...)

In college I drove

Some kind of used SUV that I don't remember.

If I weren't a professor, I would

Still be in the video game industry, for certain.

Favorite books

Lord of the Rings, Spycatcher, The Disaster Artist, Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend

Favorite movies

Predator, Lord of the Rings trilogy, correct Star Wars movies, Event Horizon, correct Indiana Jones movies, correct Rocky movies, Christopher Nolan Batman, and, yes, Batman v. Superman (sorry, you're wrong about this!).

Favorite city

Osaka, Japan

Favorite coffee

Michigan Cherry from Biggby

Nobody knows I

Used to be an auctioneer.

My latest accomplishment

My latest shipped video game was Aliens: Fireteam Elite on PS5, PS4, Xbox platforms, and PC.

Current Research

Measuring Fun in Student Video Game Projects: A Qualitative Analysis of Peer Responses