Black History Month Spotlight: Lynn Scerbak II

Jason Martinez

Lynn Scerbak is an alumnus from USC who graduated from USC Games in 2018. While at USC, they worked as an artist and game designer on the educational game Tracking Ida, which drew inspiration from Ida B. Wells’ investigative journalism against lynching in the 1890s. Currently, they are working full-time at DigitalFish as a technical artist in Facebook’s Spark AR program. 

Here are some highlights from our talk with Lynn, edited for brevity.

How did USC help shape your career path?

I was actually approached by DigitalFish because they were expanding their tech art division. Actually, jobs are open right now for DigitalFish–we’re looking for more tech artists! But after I graduated college, I took a year to work at a local non-profit. Then I started applying to a wide array of tech industry jobs all over. I was really lucky that DigitalFish reached out to me because I don’t know if I would’ve found them otherwise. At DigitalFish, we get to work on augmented reality and emerging technologies. That’s really fun for me and I really enjoy that. 

What does a day at DigitalFish generally look like?

I mostly work in Facebook’s Spark AR program, Facebook’s augmented reality software that is constantly being developed and expanded. It’s cool, but it’s also a lot to learn. There are many different ways you can use the program. A lot of people use it to create Instagram effects. Some people try to push the software to make games and interactive experiences using a simple skeleton that Spark provides. People have been able to do some really amazing stuff just by using head gestures in order to control entire interactive experiences! It’s a different philosophy of game design or playful design. I regularly apply what I learned in school because these emerging technologies often involve the body, and that’s really cool.

What do you remember most about USC?

I think that the thing that I appreciate most from USC, especially now that I’m a few years away from it, is the variety of really cool, perspective-altering classes. It’s kind of nerdy, but the classes that I took were probably my best memories at USC. Ones that stand out to me are my typography and dance classes. I had a dance minor, and that informed my game design practice 110%. And then obviously, my peers and educators in the games program. 

What future projects have you been thinking about?

A lot of silk. I’ve dyed a bunch of silk scarves using natural dyes and indigo extracts. That’s a fun little chemistry experiment comboed with creating pretty colors.

In terms of grand projects in tech, I’ve been thinking about a detective thriller. My grandpa was a Black homicide detective with the NYPD for a while. He worked on the Kennedy assassination. He had a lot of interesting experiences, so I think that creating a detective thriller that looks at both policing and Blackness set back in the 70s would be interesting. You can have an inside perspective of a Black detective who has tensions with other police officers at work due to his race, and when he’s out of uniform he still has tensions with police officers because of his race. I think that would be an interesting thing to explore. But that’s a big idea that would require me to do a lot of research. 

Get in touch with Lynn on LinkedIn. View the whole interview on USC Games’ YouTube channel here.