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Grizzly Gamers: UM’s New Game Design Major, Esports Team Capture the Future

Photo: Solomon Alberston-Gore, a UM sophomore from Lewistown, is enrolled in UM’s new gaming design and interactive media degree. He blends an extracurricular passion playing on Grizzly Esports teams with his academic experience and training.

MISSOULA – When he was 7 years old, Solomon “Solly” Albertson-Gore was gifted a video game. The Lewistown native recalls Nintendogs ꟷ a real-time pet simulation video game ꟷ as the moment it began.

“I remember just being so incredibly amazed at the virtual experience and that feeling has just never left me,” he said. “I’m fascinated, obsessed actually, by all of it.” Later, as a 9-year-old, Albertson-Gore became enamored with Wii, the popular, record-selling home console that many families enjoyed in their living rooms virtually bowling, dancing and playing Wii sports.

Fast forward to today, and Albertson-Gore is a sophomore at the University of Montana, still playing video games and majoring in the very field that grabbed his attention as a youngster – game design and interactive media, one of UM’s newest technology majors. The major is a blend of computer science, art, writing, music, design and critical thinking and strategizing – all elements which Albertson-Gore said has kept him interested and active in the land of virtual gaming for the majority of his young life.

Before enrolling in college, Albertson-Gore spent a summer not in front of a screen, but traversing landscapes on foot in the grueling work as a wildland firefighter. Reflecting in the mountains about his future, he told himself it was time to focus on a career. His path to UM began at a moment that most Grizzlies recall ꟷ a distinct feeling of coming home when visiting the campus and a “knowing” that UM was the place for him. After dabbling in a few majors, including music education (he plays the tuba and trombone), he found himself in computer science classes.