Lauren Liss ’04

Interactive Arts and Media

Interactive designer Lauren Liss teaches her students to listen, adapt, and learn from failure.

One night, while playing the popular 1995 computer game You Don’t Know Jack, Lauren Liss ’04 stumbled upon her career calling.

“I was drawn to You Don’t Know Jack’s interactivity,” says Liss. “This was something I was actually interested in. I wanted to learn more.”

Liss earned a BA in Interactive Arts and Media (IAM) at Columbia College Chicago. During her time at Columbia, Liss came full circle when she scored an internship with Jellyvision Games (now known as Jackbox Games), the video game developer who created You Don’t Know Jack.

“For a year and a half, I worked as an interactive design intern,” says Liss. “I was fortunate enough to be able to work on You Don’t Know Jack Vol. 6: The Lost Gold.

After graduation, Liss worked as an interactive developer at an advertising agency and opened up her own web design studio, goodspark*. Then she returned to Columbia in 2006 as an adjunct professor for the Interactive Arts and Media Department; she is now an assistant professor, coordinating the Interaction Design program.

“I don’t want my students creating for their own edification,” Liss says. “I place them in collaborative settings where they are urged to combine personal processes. This is how you become a better designer: Learn to listen.”

Liss teaches most of the User Experience courses at Columbia, including the Intro to IAM Team Development course, where junior students work in teams on various development projects.

“This introductory course allows students to experiment and learn from each other. It encourages broader thinking—to become less risk-averse and more experienced,” she says.

Liss teaches her students that they don’t have to succeed at everything all the time. In fact, she encourages “failure by way of growth” before the students begin working with real-world clients during their senior year.

“Students leave Columbia ahead of the game,” she says. “They learn to not be self-serving as a designer, but instead empathetic and ready to take informed chances.”