Rich Tanner ('10) | Information Technology & Computing
Information technology major
with graphics & game development
concentration from West Plains, Mo
Rich Tanner is not a typical college student. He's 31 years old. He's married and has a family. He was in the work force for years before deciding to get his bachelor's degree. But Rich is a man with a passion for learning - and an equally strong passion for computers and their seemingly endless capabilities.
ACU seemed like a perfect fit. The people there were really looking for new avenues of ministry.
That passion began when his family got an Apple II when he was a child. Even though he didn't have many computer classes in school, Rich never stopped wanting to learn about how computers worked. Shortly after getting married, he got his first personal computer and began to teach himself how to use it, learning mainly by experience.
In 2005, he received his associate's degree in computer science from Missouri State University. At first, he thought that he'd only want to learn about graphic design. However, as he learned more, Rich discovered that he also enjoyed the challenge of programming. He was looking for a place that shared his values and would enable him to explore that challenge when a professor at Missouri State told him about ACU.
For Rich, who wanted to integrate his faith with his talents, ACU provided an irresistible opportunity. Working in a community of faith and under the guidance of professors he respected, he began to develop his skills further and think about new ways to use them for the glory of God.
"ACU seemed like a perfect fit," he said. "The people there were really looking for new avenues of ministry."
Rich sees the influence of Christian values all over ACU's campus. They aren't always explicitly stated, but their message and meaning is clear in the actions of faculty, staff and students, he said.
"Sometimes you don’t see it on the surface every day - but it's there," he said.
Rich is interested in developing computer and video games with a Christian message. He noticed that Christians were using popular culture to spread the message of Christ on multiple levels - through mediums such as the TV show "Veggie Tales" or Christian music. He sees gaming culture as yet another opportunity to reach out to people and share God with them.
"I think it's good to give people that alternative," he said.
Rich envisions video games with Bible characters as main actors or with a biblical message. At the moment, he's doing a group project at ACU that involves reconstructing Solomon's temple in 3-D. He finds the work fascinating and appreciates the new perspective it gives him on Israelite culture and worship of God. It also helps him think about the concept concretely, piece by piece.
"It becomes more than just a story," he said.
In the future, Rich hopes to continue designing video games with biblical content. He doesn't necessarily want to deal with the headaches of starting his own company and would prefer to simply keep creating. He has also considered going to graduate school and entering the academic setting, while pursuing his gaming projects on the side.
Even though he's not sure what lies ahead, Rich is confident this is part of God's plan for his life. He enjoys using his talents to glorify God and feels God's influence in what he's doing now. That assurance helps as he balances classes, work and family.
"It's one day at a time," he said.
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