Abdul Ajeigbe ’22 Combines Computer Science and Media Studies for Immersive Gaming Experience

headshot of a Pomona College student on campus

Abdul Ajeigbe ’22 had plans to visit Paris, where he looked forward to seeing people watchers, banlieues and the Eiffel Tower. His travel plans were cancelled in 2020, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I couldn’t go outside; I spent a lot of time at home in Newark, New Jersey. So, I was trying to find a way to be outside without actually being outside,” Ajeigbe says.

After watching an anime show, Sword Art Online, which featured a nerve gear device, he was determined get a virtual reality (VR) headset. A computer science and media studies double major, Ajeigbe found the inspiration for his senior project through this VR headset.

“It helped me stay connected during the pandemic. I was able to go to Paris in the VR headset, and that was very valuable for me.”

A Blend Between Computer Science and Media Studies

Ajeigbe’s focus in computer science is on user experiences that take place in the digital realm and how code can enhance them. One appeal of computer science is being able to replicate his own experiences for others. His goal is to use computer science as a tool to create imaginative experiences that make people happy and smile.

“I wasn’t really interested in just coding in a vacuum,” Ajeigbe says. “I was really into the user interfaces and the user experiences you could create… that help people enjoy life.”

Double majoring works well for Ajeigbe because media studies offers another medium for him to create. Ajeigbe’s elementary school, Newton Street School, focused on humanities, but his high school, Science Park High School, was a magnet school that focused on science. Media studies allows him to revisit a previous approach to learning.

“I tapped back into that inner child self, where I was able to play and have fun and indulge in classes and be creative,” he says. “Those are the classes where I always got to experiment.”

Immersed in the Escape and Looking to the Future

Ajeigbe’s senior project is titled Presence and Immersion in Virtual Reality Gaming. One thing he appreciates about his fields of study is how they allowed him to envision this project from scratch and see it through.

The game created for the project is titled Escape! and uses the gamer’s experience to explore what it means to casually immerse oneself in a game. “It’s a VR space where you move around through thrusters that come from your hands,” Ajeigbe says. “You can just think about it like Iron Man. There are like 10 missiles that will intermittently come towards you [as you escape a burning island], and your goal is to avoid them and stay alive.”

Ajeigbe used code to create the game’s mechanics and corporeal reality. The media studies portion of his project focused on the evolution of video games throughout the centuries, starting with board and arcade games to gaming consoles and virtual reality.

After reflecting on his undergraduate career and senior project, Ajeigbe advises, “If you like anything, just try it. The worst that can come from doing something you’ve never done before is that you learn something.”

This motto is guiding Ajeigbe as graduation nears and he looks toward the future. Starting in the fall, Ajeigbe will work as solutions engineer analyst for Deloitte. He interned there last summer through the Management Leadership for Tomorrow program and was given a return offer upon its completion.

Ajeigbe will collaborate with his team to design and develop new technologies for Deloitte’s clients. Overall, his aim is to combine his backgrounds in computer science and media studies to guarantee smooth experiences for clients. His work won’t always relate to his majors, but Ajeigbe knows the breadth of education he has received at Pomona will allow him to apply himself to a variety of industries.

“I know a little bit about everything,” Ajeigbe says.