During Tanner Sherlock’s first year at Whittier College, he met with a friend around 8:00 p.m. at a local KFC. At the time, he was extremely stressed, had just gotten off of work, and, when his friend made a very simple joke, Sherlock started cry-laughing in the middle of the establishment. Despite his friend begging, “Dude, please stop laughing,” Sherlock went on like this for a good five minutes.
This is what sitting in an interview with QC Staff Writer Tanner Sherlock is like. Sherlock is witty and cannot go a single minute without making a joke, whether at his own expense or at the expense of others (who are mutually familiar, notably). While this is usually the habit of very unserious people, Sherlock is an extremely hard worker who took on a lot during his time at Whittier College.
Perhaps it started in high school. He was valedictorian when he graduated – not something he brags about often, since it looks better on an application. He applied to schools like UCLA and UC Irvine when he graduated high school, but chose to attend Whittier – his safety school. In fact, he only applied to the College because his advisor in high school told him to apply, just in case.
Whittier College was lucky to have Tanner Sherlock as a student. If his vibrant personality is not enough, his hard work surely was. He majored in Comparative Media Studies (which “I chose because it was very versatile,” he said) as part of the Whittier Scholars Program, and he worked really hard to put a portfolio together, recognizing that his dream of designing video games was not going to be easy. “[The gaming industry] is ridiculously competitive – stupid competitive,” Sherlock said. “The chances of getting in[to the industry] are awful.”
The video game industry is both an extremely complex and competitive one. “In video games, there are dozens of thousands of jobs that need filling. It’s a large industry that needs a lot of people . . . but already has so many.” The pandemic did not help. Twitch, a platform primarily for video game streaming, really boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, following an already-popular gaming community on YouTube. Sherlock explained the popularity of games in metaphors: “Humans are drawn to play innately. . . . I’m making jokes, and you’re laughing, and we’re playing a game of conversation, right?” He compared it to playing tag as kids, and even drew in the idea of animals naturally playing together. “Video games are a way to [play] in any way you want without other people there,” Sherlock said.
Like his own major, Sherlock enjoys the versatility of video games. He is a fan of narrative or plot-heavy games, but this does not define his parameters of the kinds of games he would like to design. Overall, he is interested in “everything and nothing” when it comes to video games – meaning he loves all aspects of gaming and game design, to the point that he cannot pinpoint anything in particular that draws him in.
All of this to say: Sherlock really wants to work in the gaming industry. He does, however, have back-up interests in theme park design and – you guessed it – journalism. That is how he ended up as a staff writer at the Quaker Campus, after all. “Funnily enough, the first [event] I ever went to was a QC meeting in my freshman year,” said Sherlock. He was interested in all things journalism from a young age, and worked for the QC starting in 2020 through his graduation in January of 2022. He also worked for KPOET, and grew to love the people he worked with in both organizations.
“I do think I’m a better person post-Whittier,” Sherlock said, joking that it may not seem like it because of his tendency to make crude jokes. He grew more than he expected to, he said, and made a lot of friends throughout his time at Whittier College. His favorite professors expressed nothing short of adoration for Sherlock; Assistant Professor of Film Studies Patti McCarthy was so excited to speak about Sherlock, and had so much to say: “Tanner was one of those truly exceptional students who stood out among the rest. When I think of Tanner, I am immediately reminded of his insatiable curiosity. Tanner was always fascinated by the world around him and was able to translate that curiosity into building and creating imaginary worlds that were fueled by his passion for storytelling. As a WSP student, the combination of film, transmedia and gaming classes all contributed to his skillset. His ability to move from one visual platform to another with ease is a highly prized skill set and talent and increasingly necessary for success in today’s marketplace. Tanner’s ability to create worlds, then translate that into marketable products (games, films, screenplays, graphic novels, social media campaigns, etc.) will undoubtedly give him a leg up in finding a job in the transmedia workplace.”
McCarthy continued, “Tanner has the passion and drive to become an outstanding creative artist. He takes great pride in his work and thrives on the challenges of good scholarship and craftsmanship. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a more receptive, creative, eager, or inquisitive student than Tanner. In class, he always maintained a positive attitude (even during the challenges of COVID), was tolerant of others, and possessed an empathy that allowed him to understand the needs and expectations of his fellow classmates. He was well-liked by his peers, was a great collaborator, and an asset to any production or project in which he was involved. Given the opportunity, I know his communication skills, natural talents, and leadership abilities will take him far on the road to success. Coupled with his creative imagination, drive, easy-going manner, and kindness toward others, Tanner is not just a promising artist and writer, but also a kind and compassionate human being. And that’s what makes him special. Talent can only go so far, but Tanner’s humanity and compassion for others is what truly sets him apart. Given the chance to further improve and hone his creative skills, I know without any doubt, Tanner will evolve into a great and shining talent. I can’t wait to see where Tanner’s life’s journey will take him next!”
Sherlock even made an impression on professors he did not have often — for example, Professor of Philosophy Paul Kjellberg: “I had Tanner in three very different courses: WSP Project and Portfolio Design, Modern Philosophy, and Introduction to Ethics. To begin with, he did all his homework and had perfect attendance, which you can never underestimate as a way to impress your professors. More importantly, he always found ways to apply what he learned in his own life to his own interests. When, in his senior year, he took Introduction to Ethics, an introductory level class, after having already taken Modern Philosophy, an advanced one, I was afraid he would be bored. But, with each new tool I gave him (ideas are tools), he would try it out, experiment with it, and find creative ways to use it. He was never bored. Confucius said, ‘To learn something and then have a chance to put it into practice — Isn’t that a joy?’ He could have been speaking of Tanner.”
And, of course, the QC’s favorite father-son relationship manifested itself in what Professor of English Joe Donnelly had to say about Sherlock: “Even though, or because, Tanner never let an opportunity to needle me pass him by, it was always a great pleasure to have him in class. He is whip smart and brings wisdom, wit and good humor to the room. He’s also a generous person and a halfway decent bass player. Two great things to be.”
An important aspect of Whittier College that Sherlock does not think enough people take advantage of are the various resources the College offers. “A lot of people [come to Whittier and] hang out in the same places . . . but, if you know that the QC, KPOET, Center for Community Engagement, [etc.] exist, you can find a lot of opportunities. A lot of people don’t think about this because they don’t know [that these offices and organizations] exist,” said Sherlock.
Sherlock was fortunate enough to be involved in two very important media organizations; both the QC and KPOET were lucky to have him. Sherlock is, of course, continuing his job search, but also plans on getting his motorcycle license “when [he has] the money and time” to do so. He came close in his second year of college, but, unfortunately, was not able to obtain it at the time.
Sherlock can do anything he puts his mind to, though – and will joke his way through practically any situation. Time management was one of his biggest struggles through college – balancing creativity (creating his own card and board games), work, classes, and a social life – but he did it. He graduated, and he is ready to dive into the workforce through journalism, theme parks, or video games, the lattermost of which has always been his dream. There is no end to his passion and creativity – two of the key ingredients to success.