July 14, 2022
Alumni Gift Animation Platform to ETC
Wick Editor joins a suite of free educational tools for students and educators
By Anthony Palyszeski
As a student at Carnegie Mellon University, Zach Rispoli wanted to teach his younger sister how to design video games. A class project he and fellow Tartan Luca Damasco developed did just that.
“Our prototype was very basic, but we realized there was an incredible opportunity to create an effective learning tool that could grow with its users,” says Luca, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the computer science and arts program, an intercollege degree program from the College of Fine Arts and the School of Computer Science, in 2017 and a master’s degree in human-computer interaction in 2018 from the School of Computer Science. Zach graduated from CMU with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 2018 from the College of Fine Aarts.
With support from CMU’s Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, the Frank Ratchye Fund for Art at the Frontier and the Mozilla Open Source Support Fund, Zach and Luca led a team that released Wick Editor under an open source license.
Wick Editor is a web-based animation and game-making software developed with the needs of beginners in mind. Its low-skill floor, high-skill ceiling and simplified user interface make it the ideal classroom tool.
Since 2021, the Wick Editor website has been visited more than 5 million times by 1.4 million visitors and is used around the globe by creators of all ages. In a nod to their Tartan roots, the pair gifted Wick Editor to CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center where it will join a suite of beginner-oriented learning tools for use in K-12 education.
“Wick Editor as a natural companion to the ETC’s outreach and engagement efforts. Like the ETC’s revolutionary Alice software, Wick Editor empowers creatives to tell the stories they want to tell and build the worlds they dream up.”
John Balash, director of educational engagement for the ETC
“We realize that to give Wick Editor an opportunity to really thrive and support as many learners as possible, the institutional support of the ETC will really progress the tool,” Luca says. “There is such a wonderful opportunity to merge the arts into various aspects of traditional classrooms, and having animations and games be submitted in place of a traditional assignment would be a real treat!”
“Wick Editor as a natural companion to the ETC’s outreach and engagement efforts,” says John Balash, director of educational engagement for the ETC. “Like the ETC’s revolutionary Alice software, Wick Editor empowers creatives to tell the stories they want to tell and build the worlds they dream up.”
In an effort to learn more about what Wick users want, the ETC Outreach and Engagement team have connected with forum moderator and content creator Jovanny Rodriguez.
Jovanny, a software engineer, volunteers to help improve the Wick Editor user experience. Along with moderating the platform’s forum, Jovanny creates YouTube tutorials, including ones requested by Wick Editor forum users.
“For me, it’s a passion thing,” Jovanny says. “I see Wick Editor just as it is, a white canvas where I can create anything. I was so welcomed by the community when I began using Wick Editor that when I became a master, I knew I wanted to give back.”
In keeping with the spirit of collaboration encouraged on Wick Editor, John said the ETC aims to collaborate with experienced users to bring improvements to both the functionality of the software and the overall user experience in the coming months.