Colleges Now Embracing Video Game Development

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News Posted: Sun, Oct 26 2008 11:42 PM

It use to be that video game developers were geeks in their basements crunching code for hours on end until their eyes bled, with hardly a business plan behind them, never mind a justifiable business case that would support making a career out of their artform.  In fact, gaming itself only really took off in the mass market as recent as the past ten years or so.  Let's face it, back then, with a customer base of predominantly kids in their teens or less, the average PC or Console game consumer just didn't have the disposable income to support anything more than a niche' market.  Likewise, if you were a gifted computer programmer, cinematographer or the like, you probably wouldn't have thought of devoting your career to something as trivial as a "video game".  It's almost hard to believe how insignificant the computer gaming industry was back then and how times certainly have changed now.

These days, there is obviously big money in the video game industry and with a market opportuntity in the tens of billions of dollars, brand-name universities are sitting up and taking notice. Investing in this relatively new form of entertainment that now spans generations with a customer and fan base that easily rivals professional sports and the movie industry, makes perfect business sense and more than a few of the big schools now have big programs.  Take USC Viterbi School of Engineering's GamePipe Lab for example and you'll know higher education has seen the light (and the green) with respect to the legitimacy of the video game development industry.  Perhaps a Master of Science in Game Development is in your future?

 

 

 
University of Southern California Viterbi GamePipe Lab
Image, courtesy: USC

 
Carnegie Mellon's ETC
Entertainment Technology Center

And don't think for a minute that it's all fun and games.  From 3D Graphics Rendering, to Analysis of Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence, you can bet the cirriculum is challenging, exhausting and requires the usual herculean acts of caffeine-infused cram-a-thons in the lab and library.  A team-based approach, Carnegie Mellon's Jesse Schell, a Professor in Game Design notes game design is, "...mind-bending technology, combined with clever game design, combined with glorious artwork, combined with beautiful audio,"...  "There's no one person on the team who can do it all. We think of it like team inventing."

According to the LA Times, "About one-third of Carnegie Mellon's graduates go directly to work at EA (Electronic Arts), said Cindy Nicola, the company's vice president of talent acquisition. The Redwood City, Calif., company soaks up close to 300 new graduates each year from various universities."

Alas it certainly does appear that the "age of the geek" has arrived.  Just ask game developer rock stars like John Carmack, driving his Ferrari to work, if he made the right career decision.  That's right kids, stay in school, get good grades, and maybe you too can play games for a living -- or better yet, create them.

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affinity replied on Mon, Oct 27 2008 5:45 AM

University of Maryland recently created a "game track" within their CS department, and it was much harder than a normal CS degree. I wish it had been available to students when I got in a couple years ago; I would have been all over it.

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Dave_HH replied on Mon, Oct 27 2008 7:06 AM

Yes, a CS major can be a whole lot of fun these days but I'm sure it's a lot of work too!

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I havent been in school since the early 10,s I wished the technology would have been there at the rate it is now I would have changed my occupation.Great oppurtunities are out there for younger America!

 

 

 

 

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3vi1 replied on Mon, Oct 27 2008 12:34 PM

>> "About one-third of Carnegie Mellon's graduates go directly to work at EA" <<

"...where they are summarily laid-off each year: http://blog.wired.com/games/2007/10/ea-describes-up.html, just in time for Christmas."

 

Still, I wish there had been a track like this when I was in school.

 

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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Grahf replied on Mon, Oct 27 2008 8:37 PM

Nice to see game development becoming more and more legit. Most people who try their hand at it soon realize the scope of it all is beyond them though. Who knew you'd need to be so well versed in vector calculus among other things? :)


That there are so few capable of it stifles the development of such specialized degrees. Most with the aptitude go into traditional engineering disciplines. CS enrollment in general at all universities is declining also forcing CS departments to consolidate their curriculum and eliminate certain degrees. My degree has been eliminated at my university now. Even then only three other people I was graduating with had the same flavor of CS degree.

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3vi1 replied on Thu, Oct 30 2008 9:01 PM

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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