Michael Thomas Di Cosola

Visual & Game Programming

Visual & Game Programming Instructor
The Art Institute of Phoenix

Visual & Game Programming Instructor Michael Thomas Di Cosola

When most people are asleep, you'll still be up working. Your passion is what'll get you through. Michael Thomas Di Cosola , Visual & Game Programming Instructor
, The Art Institute of Phoenix

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

My uncle was the chief electrical engineer at The Walt Disney Company. Through him, I got a behind-the-scenes look at the Disney magic and art. I remember watching an artist paint designs in the Enchanted Tiki Room and bombarding him with questions. That’s when I knew I wanted to bring art to others.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring, and how do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?

I assign a project in my Interior Worlds class that gives students one week to complete a scene from the game series Unreal following all the rules of design (rules of thirds, golden spiral, etc.) I expect them to fail. But I also expect them to give their best. To try and try again. And learn what they did wrong and figure out how to correct it.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Collaboration lets students see things from different points of view. Our Visual & Game Programming students work with our [Game Art& Design] students—and that’s led to many successful outcomes. One team even placed in the Independent Games Festival.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Making games isn’t easy. Just because you love games doesn't mean you should make them. You have to have a passion. When most people are asleep, you’ll still be up working. Your passion is what will get you through.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

There’s no one way to do something. Just dive in and start doing it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Students ask me all the time why I don’t go back to making games. I ask them to tell me where else but teaching can you help someone become the best person they can be, and watch them live their dreams. It’s like a video game, only it’s real.