Devoted gamers, take note: Clarkson alum Thomas Gawrys ’07 is living the dream.
He’s a senior software engineer with Vicarious Visions, an Activision development studio. They're a multi-billion dollar leader in the gaming world and developer of games that are standouts in this digital age, including Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, the Skylanders and Guitar Hero series and Destiny 2. Vicarious Visions is based in Menands, New York, not far from where Gawrys now lives, in Clifton Park.
Gawrys was an aficionado of video games in high school, both as entertainment and social glue. He chose Clarkson for its reputation in the tech world and majored in software engineering. His decision in his junior year to apply for a co-op (similar to an internship) led him to the offices of Vicarious Visions.
The company’s cutting-edge reputation “was super intimidating,” he says today. “I was kind of shocked but really excited when I got the co-op there!” Any self-doubts about his abilities eventually vanished; he plunged into game development, working on projects like Guitar Hero 3.
After graduating in the winter of 2007, Gawrys went back with Activision and has been with them ever since, working for a time in California and Dublin, Ireland. He opted to settle at the Vicarious Visions studio in Menands to be close to his hometown of Ballston Spa, and to his family and friends.
Being near home was the icing on the cake of an attractive corporate culture at Vicarious Visions, Gawrys says. "This family of developers always tries to push their limits," he explained, and that was an approach he was familiar with at Clarkson.
“Clarkson taught me how to be a critical thinker, how to take things in and keep challenging myself,” he says today. “It has propelled me through my entire career.”
That career has included 2017’s development and launch of Destiny 2 for PC. What’s next? Gawrys emphasizes the importance of collaboration in whatever the future brings. Hearkening back to the critical thinking skills he learned at Clarkson, he said he loves working with fellow engineers in the role of the big-picture thinker, the one who figures out “how to find solutions and get things done.”
It might mean working on a new networking game that’s “big and grand” but most importantly, has the potential to “bring people together” in a meaningful, positive way. Games can do that, Gawrys believes, in a community or on a global level.
Gawrys recently paid it forward, too, by representing Vicarious Visions at a recent Clarkson Career Fair. "The students at the career fair are eager to make an impact, but my favorite part is helping them make choices to improve their chances with any employer," he said.