Andrew Bullinger ’23 says there are two parts of creating a video game: making it work, and making it look good.
"Making video games is where computer science and art come together," he says. "It's good to have a solid understanding of both." That’s why Bullinger, a computer science major and art minor from Fort Worth, Texas, who’s interested in game development and game design, came to Trinity. “Computer science and art—they’re such polar opposites, so being able to engage them both at a high level, you can’t really do that at a whole lot of other places.”
At Trinity, Bullinger can be a programmer and an artist. But he also gets to be an all-conference sprinter and hurdler for Trinity’s track and field team; he gets to be a gamer as part of Student organizations like Trinity’s Gaming Club; and most importantly, at Trinity’s chapter of Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), he gets to be himself.
“Things get insanely busy at Trinity,” says Bullinger, who relies on RUF as a space to decompress. “Everyone here is a workaholic. I sat down at a table my first week here, and six of the eight people there were valedictorians. Having a place at Trinity like RUF, you can be there for an hour, just relax, and be uplifted.”
Art and computer science also give Bullinger a lift. He has enjoyed art since elementary school, especially through drawing. Computer science, particularly the idea of making games, also intrigued Bullinger starting in middle school. After taking AP Computer science in high school, Bullinger was hooked. “I don’t code for ‘fun,’ but I have fun when I do my projects,” he says.
Computer science can be a broad and complicated field at the college level, so Bullinger wasn’t looking for a school that would make life as a CS major complicated, too. “At Trinity, the department literally printed out a sheet of paper for me, outlining the paths I would be able to take through the major,” Bullinger says. “If I went to another school, I might have had to take an (unrelated) Information Technology class - that doesn’t interest me at all. But at Trinity, I got to take a game design class and systems class instead. That just makes sense to me.”
Bullinger says this approach to the CS major means Trinity gives students flexibility and a wide range of options, but also helps students keep their path clearly defined. Along this path, Bullinger says he’s flourished under professors such as Mark Lewis '96, Ph.D., and Britton Horn '09, Ph.D., noting both as being “very engaging, especially for the speed with which we went through the material.”
Taking Horn’s “Intro to Game Development” course was a pivotal turning point for Bullinger. “I had experience coding, but that was the point I got to apply it to something that I really like,” he says, pointing to his course portfolio. “Getting the chance to do something I’d wanted to do for a long time was just really fun—and I had a lot of friends in that class.”
And Bullinger also found some real-world experience too, working at Sojourner Logistics, a local shipping warehouse, as a summer intern. There, he honed his skills while working on a programming project, helping the company sync their digital database with their warehouse inventory.
At Trinity, Bullinger tried out life as an art and CS double major, balancing these CS pursuits with his original artistic passion. He earned the Baker Duncan Scholarship in art (Trinity offers this dynamic scholarship across multiple fields). But Bullinger quickly discovered that this approach wasn’t the life for him.
So, he was able to keep art in his life as a minor. “I’ve had fun classes in photography and sculpture,” he says. “Drawing I got cut short [by COVID-19 restrictions] in 2020, but Drawing II has been fun to get back to, especially having that creative freedom that comes with upper-level art classes.”
Bullinger has also found time to thrive and enjoy life outside the classroom. He worked as a ranger at one of the Boy Scouts of America’s High Adventure Bases at Philmont Scout Ranch this past summer: “Nowhere even close to computer science,” he laughs, “But that was awesome—living in a tent for three months, and only touching a computer about three times.”
Bullinger also balances life at Trinity as a student athlete on the University’s track and field team. He came into Trinity as an accomplished hurdler in Texas’s 6A division, but suffered an injury to his foot as a sophomore in college. “When I came back, that actually ended up being an opportunity to try out some of the sprints, which are less of an impact on the foot than hurdles,” Bullinger says. “It makes more sense to my body to be able to ‘floor it’ the whole time instead of trying to pace things over a longer 400 race.”
The injury was a humbling experience for Bullinger, who points out coaches Marcus Whitehead and Todd Wildman as instrumental in making the adjustment to trying out new events in the 100m and 200m dashes. After surviving both that injury and a first-year season disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bullinger actually ended up taking a conference championship in the 100 as a second-year—not bad for a newcomer to the event.
Even with jobs, demanding academics, and athletics, Bullinger also treasures his time with clubs on campus. In addition to Trinity’s Gaming Club, his favorite organization is Reformed University Fellowship, a nationwide Presbyterian organization that runs a chapter at Trinity.
“It’s a place where people can show up, and just have a good group of people to be with and hear what the Bible has to say,” says Bullinger, a member of the Trinity RUF servant team. “Some of my best friends on campus are in that group, and the ability to connect over something that’s that meaningful definitely lends itself to really good relationships.”
Now a junior, Bullinger doesn’t yet have concrete plans for life after Trinity. But that doesn’t mean his vision for the future isn’t high-res: “I know I want to work with game development and game design,” he says. “And at Trinity, I’m getting the experience I need to do that.”