“I grew up in a country with a very dry education system,” says Yasaman Hashemian of Iran. “It was not interactive; it was not joyful; and perhaps worst of all, it was often boring.” Outside the classroom, however, she spent many hours involved in outdoor activities, exercise, arts, and handcrafts that taught her the importance of “healthy living practices, creativity, and teamwork.” Both experiences proved valuable, and would serve as the underpinning of Hashemian’s career as an interactive media designer.
Hashemian studied computer science at Tabriz University but upon receiving her bachelor’s degree she was left with “a desire for something new.” She knew she had a “passion for human interactions” so she worked initially as a teacher and trainer for children. From that emerged “a desire to enrich children’s lives by making high technology more accessible to them.”
In 2008, Hashemian applied to the MFA program at the University of Southern California’s School of the Cinematic Arts, Interactive Media Division. Especially inspiring to her were the projects she collaborated on at the school’s Creative Media & Behavioral Health Center (CM&BHC). Each project she worked on there, she says, “propelled my design and art skills to new heights, while allowing me to employ my unique perspective as an Iranian immigrant.” She turned, for example, to memories of her native culture, where social eating is fundamental to a healthy family, for her insights into Virtual Sprouts, a healthy-eating intervention game.
Hashemian’s most ambitious undertaking to date is the full-body-driven game she is developing for her thesis project, called Adventurous Dreaming Highflying Dragon; it is based on research evidence that shows physical activity can help improve the symptoms of children with ADHD.
Currently a scholar visitor at CM&BHC, Hashemian plans to start her own company, where she can employ her design skills and experience.