For as long as Chris Payne can remember, he’s wanted to work in video game design. Payne, a Roswell, Georgia, native, will be graduating this weekend with a bachelor’s degree in computational media. He concentrated in media and game studies, which he believes has set him up well to follow his lifelong passion.
He minored in Japanese, allowing him to combine his interests in anime and Japanese culture with his desire to learn more about the world of video games. In the summer of 2018, he traveled to Japan as part of one of Georgia Tech’s many Language for Business and Technology (LBAT) programs. There, he spent 12 weeks immersing himself the country’s culture and language.
Payne also completed two rotations of a co-op with Cartoon Network as a game tester. He estimates that he tested about three dozen different games and apps; each time, he would walk through the product, send feedback to the game developers about what didn’t work, and repeat the process with the new iteration. Payne is even credited as a game tester for the Cartoon Network App, which won an Emmy in 2016 for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media.
But that wasn’t all that Payne won in his time at Cartoon Network. In 2017, he participated in the ELEAGUE TURNERment for Street Fighter V. In a tournament of 60 employees from across the Turner Broadcasting family — including Cartoon Network, CNN, and TBS — Payne emerged as the victor. He brought home a grand prize full of new technology and memories he won’t soon forget.
After his TURNERment win, Payne decided to get more involved in the competitive Street Fighter scene. He plans on participating in more tournaments after graduation, using his knowledge of video game design to his advantage.
There are plenty of other future plans that don’t involve video games. This spring, Payne joined Omega Psi Phi, one of the oldest historically black fraternities in the country. At the time, he was a candidate for membership along with Brandon Adams, a Georgia Tech student and football player who died in March. Payne, who later served as president of Omega Psi Phi, still keeps Adams' memory with him at all times.
“Every time we do fraternity things, I always have him in the back of my mind, wishing that we could be doing them together,” Payne said.
Omega Psi Phi emphasizes lifelong membership, so after Payne leaves Georgia Tech, he’ll be able to join the fraternity’s local graduate chapter wherever he ends up. The graduate chapters continue to participate in philanthropy and community service; in the North Fulton County chapter, they run a Black Rhinos mentoring program for black male students ages 12-18.
“Those are people that I know I can depend on,” Payne said of the men of Omega Psi Phi. “I’ve got my brothers for life.”