Jeven Zarate-McCoy

Porter '21, art and design: games and playable media

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Jeven Zarate-McCoy (Porter '21, art and design: games and playable media)

As a kid, Jeven Zarate-McCoy liked playing computer games and he wanted to be a writer. As he got older and began looking toward college, he looked for a school where he could learn how to create games—a mix of writing and design. His parents were supportive, he remembers—they just didn’t think such a place existed. 

Always goal-oriented, he set himself a goal to create games, chose UC Santa Cruz, and has been relentless in achieving his ambition. 

“I basically threw myself out there,” said Zarate-McCoy, 22. “You have to do all you can do.” 

He joined the Game Design and Arts (GDA) Collaboration student group right after arriving on campus and has stayed involved ever since. A small group of UC Santa Cruz students founded the GDA in 2015. Today it has more than 100 members and promotes networking and skill-sharing between artists, musicians, programmers, and game designers. The group creates student opportunities for professional development, mentorship, and travel to game conferences. 

In his four years at UCSC, Zarate-McCoy has served in various lead roles and officer positions with the GDA and is capping his final year as president. Digital Arts and New Media staff credit him with “an outstanding job of keeping this important club flowing smoothly and contributing to the positive social culture of the club and our major during this fully remote year.” 

Zarate-McCoy said a key benefit of the GDA is bringing together the talents of a wide cross section of students who may not necessarily be game majors. 

“So many people outside of games who are important to the field,” he said, mentioning one particular student who contributed “great art, great music, and she's a biology major!”

Zarate-McCoy grew up in Elk Grove, Calif., with two older brothers and a younger sister, and has known what he wanted to do since junior high school. He doesn’t doesn’t see himself as “particularly skilled,” he said, but will grant that he is confident and focused on his goals. 

His next step is to land a job with one of the big game makers. His long-term goal is to open his own game studio where he can develop, own, and control the intellectual property.