Award-winning Old Dominion University graduate Michelle Fischer takes her fun seriously.

A passion for video games drove her to work part-time at a local game store even as she maintained a 4.0 grade point average at ODU.

“This experience is very useful for creating games,” she wrote, describing her retail adventures. “It gives me an idea of what ideas would be well received or not.”

At ODU, she performed so well in her two majors —Game Design, Development, and Criticism; and Spanish — that she graduated this spring as the year’s outstanding student in both programs.

On top of that, she won the College of Arts and Letters Alumni Award, the most prestigious honor handed out by the university’s largest college.

Michelle Fischer poses at a 2023 award ceremony. Pictured, left to right, are ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Associate Professor of Spanish Luis Guadaño, Fischer, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Austin Agho.

Her teachers describe her as a model student.

“She's proactive, self-motivated, analytical, and creative to a fault,” wrote Kevin Moberly, leader of ODU’s Game Design, Development, and Criticism program.

Moberly saw her work well in teams as she managed and motivated others.

“She possesses the creative and critical acumen to transform abstract game concepts into concrete mechanics and meaningful gameplay experiences,” he wrote.

Another teacher, Luis Guadaño, praised her probing intellect.

“She is thorough, thinks about things in advance, and is not afraid of posing questions and challenging views or opinions,” wrote Guadaño, an associate professor of Spanish.

“She is also open-minded and has interests in different fields, which gives her an edge that is very important nowadays: the ability to compare, connect, and rework knowledge from one field to another to develop out-of-the-box solutions.”

At the College of Arts and Letters 2023 Outstanding Student Recognition event, Michelle Fischer poses as her teachers help display her awards. Pictured with her, at left, is Associate Professor of Spanish Luis Guadaño. At right is Associate Professor Kevin Moberly who directs ODU’s Game Design, Development, and Criticism program.

When picking a topic for an essay in a Spanish class, Fischer chose to write about the localization and translation of video games — taking an existing game and making it work well for people in an entirely different culture.

“In this way, I have always tried to connect my interest in video games to my interest in learning languages,” she explained. “This is what inspired me to move in the direction of video game writing and localization.” 

Fischer wants to find her place in a fast-changing, multi-billion-dollar industry.

“This career path would give me the chance to combine my interests and will allow me to help bring new video games to a global audience.”

Wherever she goes, lessons from ODU will guide her.

“I will always be grateful for the wonderful experiences I had here at ODU and how the education I received here helped me to expand my knowledge in so many ways.”