Do courses in gaming supplement experience in games?

April 1, 2008

Do courses in gaming supplement experience in games?

Do courses in gaming supplement experience in games?

Playing games has been a luxury where seconds reap dollars. And being in that world, studying about games, making games ones career is not quite a foolish thought, it seems.

Having become a $10 billion industry in the United States, video games have graduated from elementary school playgrounds to formalized classes in some of America's most prestigious universities; gaming is much a celebrated stream to take up in getting a leg up in the gaming industry.

The Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) recognizes Art Institute (various branches), Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Institute of Technology, Palomar Community College, Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California, and the University of Washington as schools that currently offer degrees or certificates in video game development or design.
(The University of Baltimore is currently developing a similar program.).
The association has a list of nearly 50 universities that offer courses in game development or design.
This list includes such prestigious schools as New York University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
There are also specialized schools such as DigiPen and Full Sail Real World Education, which cater directly to the game industry.
DigiPen has long enjoyed a close relationship with Nintendo of America -- both physically and academically.
Located in Redmond, Washington, DigiPen offer customized courses to specifically address industry needs of career skills.

This is a feel of what the education scene in gaming is now. On the other hand the industry has clearly defined its skill set requirements, which can be broadly seen as:

• Art designer
• 3d animations designer
• Graphics programmers
• Game designers
• Game testers

Out of these there are clearly defined courses of art designing and 3 d animations, sound engineering and graphics programming.
With quite a handful of promising career skills being nurtured right from the campuses, the veterans have a somewhat different look out for game designers.
They say that this is not quite a teachable subject.
It is not the grammar of the design but the flare of an individual to design games, which makes the difference.

"Programming and graphics are well-established, well-understood, eminently teachable fields (though even here, it's important, I think, that would-be game developers get as wide-ranging an education as possible).
When we start talking about design, however, we're talking about something that isn't well-established, well-understood or eminently teachable -- yet.
I don't expect a university or a community college or a DigiPen or a Full Sail to turn out fully-trained professional game designers any time soon," says Warren Spector, studio director at Ion Storm.

Though there is an ongoing tussle between gaming giants like Electronic Arts and organizations like the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) about what should be the common framework that might be taught to students if they want to learn about game design.
Recently IGDA has come up with a 23 page document covering its claims in this very aspect.

Still the opportunities for game students are rising and Henry Jenkins, head of director of comparative media studies at MIT and Warren Spector, a pioneer of game education have bourn testimonials to the fact.

"Historically, we have not done as much direct hires from campuses," says Electronic Arts's Cindy Haugh.
"As we've entered this phase of growth and look into the future, we expect a dramatic increase in directly using college campuses for pipeline building.
I think that we will see huge … maybe even one-third of our employees over the next few years will come from schools."

With this sweet note from the who’s who of the gaming industry, we could definitely think about gaming as our careers.