From Mustang to Mario

By Robert English, IV and Aiden Wellstood

Former Grant D. Morse student, Irena Cranston, has what many kids dream to be the perfect job. Imagine working for the company which created Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong and ended up revolutionizing the world of video gaming.

Irena Cranston went to Grant D. Morse as a kindergartener all the way through to her graduation in 2001. She graduated Saugerties Jr/Sr. high school in 2007.

Irena Sixth Grade

Irena as a sixth grade student in 200-2001. 

After leaving Saugerties High, she attended Digipen Institute of Technology in Washington State. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Real Time Interject Simulation which she says, ”It’s just a fancy way to say you got a bachelor’s degree in video game programming. ‘’

During her schooling she worked closely with some video game companies including Nintendo which is located near Digipen in Redmond, Washington.
As a student and now a paid employee, the games she had programmed are Shinobi for 3DS and Wii, Rise of Manhunters for 3DS, Marvel Super Hero Squad for 3DS, Infinity Gauntlet for 3DS, Black Light for 3DS and Retribution for PS4 she also worked on games that were canceled. “Not every game that gets worked on always gets released, unfortunately.”

The games that she plays a lot are Skyrim and Mario Kart 8. “Rachet and Clank will always hold a special place in my heart, I am also a huge fan of Harvest Moon and Rune Factory games. Really, I love too many games to list,” she reported in an email interview.

ir‏ena present

Irena as a professional video game developer for Nintendo, USA. Photos courtesy of her family.

She said that it’s never good to make enemies in other companies like Sony or Microsoft. “I actually have a few friends that work at Microsoft and Sony. The video industry is a very small place, so it’s common for people to be friends with someone that works at the competitor’s company. That enemy could stop you from getting your next job,” she explained.

Irena does not get back to her hometown too often, but has wonderful memories of her time at Morse and some of her favorite teachers. Irena’s mom and dad, Bob and Stephanie Cranston live on Blue Mountain Road and her younger sister Emma is presently pursuing a post-graduate degree in psychology younger brother Gavin is working on a career in writing.
Irena Cranston is living her dream and enjoying the benefits of her strong work habits developed at Grant D. Morse School, an Nintendo is reaping the rewards of her labor.