After being diagnosed with a life threatening, unique metabolic disorder that caused him to lose most of his vision, Thomas Sorensen, a California Native, defied all odds and is pioneering a new way to play open source software video games.
Thomas is a senior Economics and Finance double major, but has dabbled in just about everything on campus. Being a self taught programmer before he lost most of his vision, Thomas has always had a love for video games and other forms of technology. He uses the little vision he has left to keep up his hobby. A friend came to Thomas asking him to teach him more about the ins and out of computers. Happy to help and to share his love for technology, Thomas and his friend, Cory Kimmerling, began working on old computers together while Thomas taught Cory about the different parts of a computer and what they do.
The two decided they wanted to take on a much bigger project where they used open source gaming software to learn about basic programming and software design. After coming across an online community that compiles open source gaming software, they took on the task of trying to combine that software with actual hardware to make a working gaming system. Through a lot of trial and error, they took a motherboard, a small SD card, casing made from an SUU 3-D printer and other parts to assemble a handheld, portable gaming console that used this open source software.
With the console, you can play all the classic video games you grew up on, with games spanning from the Atari consoles to the Nintendo 64 and more. The console is made to simplify gaming by putting everything into one place.
“I want to get rid of the typical hassles of gaming and try to make the product as user friendly as possible.” said Thomas. “There’s no switching disks, no switching cords, you can just plug it in and play.”
The graphic output is much better on the console while the original design of the games is completely preserved. The system improves your experience while preserving the nostalgia of the games.
Since having the console take off, Thomas is extra careful to make sure he is not selling the open source software as his own work. The product he is looking to sell to people is a kit to build your own console and tap into the open source community that others have put hundreds of hours of work into. He hopes the kit will open the door for people that aren't usually tech savvy to explore the world of technology and gaming.
Thomas credits much of his success to the classes and experiences he’s had at SUU. He knew that if he ever hit a bump in the road, he could turn to a professor for guidance and help. Professor Tyler Stillman has been a huge mentor for Thomas and has been inspiring him to reach toward his goals and develop his gaming kit.
“SUU has an environment that is so supportive of it’s students,” said Thomas. “It’s a safe place to ask questions and learn from peers and professors that allow mere ideas like the console to become a reality.”
With his health concerns, Thomas has adopted the mindset of living life to the fullest.
“Living life legally blind definitely makes for an interesting point of view,” said Thomas. “Since losing my vision, I feel like I’ve been more accepting of others and have been inspired to try new things and go after my goals so I’m not living life with regrets.
Thomas wants to continue experimenting with different business ideas and side projects after he graduates in May and start his career in finance. Eventually, he hopes to come back to SUU to teach business classes and give back to the school that has taught him so much.
The Entrepreneurship Program at SUU promotes transformative educational experiences and financial well-being through new venture creation. The program connects students with business mentors, hosts monthly networking events, and provides necessary support and counseling services in finance, partner facilitation, marketing, legal and human resources. Students of all majors interested in starting a business can join the Entrepreneurship Club or contact Tyler Stillman at firstname.lastname@example.org.