Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Game Design as A Career Pathway in High Schools and Colleges


News from EdSource: Designing video games, an occupation that seems perfectly aligned for California’s 21st century economy, is among the new high school courses a state panel is proposing as part of a revision of state standards that guide schools’ efforts to prepare students for future careers.

The proposal is a new element in the updated version of California’s “Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards” presented to the State Board of Education in Sacramento.  The public has until September 19 to offer comments before the final version is adopted by the Board. Game design programs are offered at several California colleges  – but the proposal could provide an impetus for similar courses at the high school level, said Patrick Ainsworth, assistant superintendent of career and college transition in the state Department of Education.

The background : Career pathways becoming a core aspect of high school reform

Ainsworth responded that the pathways are becoming a “core aspect of high school reform.” “We recognize the fiscal realities out there, but we weren’t willing to compromise in terms of rigor,” he said. In fact, the centerpiece of legislation proposed by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, now awaiting Governor Brown’s signature (SB 1458), proposes incorporating how well a school prepares its students for college and career into the Academic Performance Index, the state’s main measure of a school’s academic success.

Video game design is a new demanding input from industry leaders

But the “Game Design and Integration Pathway” is completely new, designed with input from industry leaders such as videogame maker Zynga, and is meant to to “prepare students for careers within the game design industry and in related technical fields.”

Read the full story here, or go to the California Department of Education website for more details.

serious gamer

photo credit: Stéfan via photo pin cc

Higher Ed. Institutes Offering Video Game Courses, Certificates and Degree Programs

According to  ‘s survey (I’m Serious.net), there are 343 degree or certificate programs for game design/programming : 301 undergraduate, 42 graduate programs in 45 states. Entertainment Software Association has a complete list of U.S. schools — with links to their websites — that offer video game courses and degrees. (U.S. Colleges, Universities, Art and Trade Schools Offering Video Game Courses, Certificates and Degree Programs)

According to USNews.com, today’s game design students will join an industry expected to reach $82.4 billion globally by 2015, compared to $55.5 billion in 2010. Computer game design is one of the new emerging college majors with a bright future.

Becker College, along with neighbor Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is a popular destination for prospective game designers. Others include DePaul UniversityMichigan State University, and Rochester Institute of Technology.

video game design degrees

In one post from Best College Online about schools for serious gamers, 4 universities are mentioned, take a look.

BIRMINGHAM CITY UNIVERSITY

At Birmingham City University, students can take advantage of the university’s game development finishing school, Gamer Camp, which offers industry-endorsed training programs. Students at Gamer Camp develop games for the iPad, PC, and PS3, with courses that are designed and run by veterans of the gaming industry. The school offers both the year-long Gamer Camp, as well as a nano and 10-week mini course that offers a bit more flexibility. Studio manager Iain Harrison shares that Gamer Camp is a step above other game development schools, offering hands-on experience that can better help students break into the industry.

CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Champlain College in Burlington, Vt., has been called “a gamer’s paradise” after the introduction of its new electronic game and interactive development major. The degree is modeled after the game development industry itself, following a team-based approach that gives students realistic experience for their future careers. Students like Caitlin Goss appreciate the approach to game design that Champlain offers: “I’m taking courses like psychology, computer theory, and English, which will help me understand everything that goes into a game, not just how to do the graphics or write the story,” offering a well-rounded education that will serve students well in the game design industry. Fellow student Steven Tanzola appreciates the program for the same reason as Goss: “The program is diverse, which will help me get a job because I won’t just know about games; I’ll have all sorts of other important classes under my belt that game developers in the gaming industry are looking for.”

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

USC in Los Angeles does groundbreaking work in video game design on a regular basis, and their excellent program is evident in rankings from Gamepro Media and The Princeton Review, who came together to award the school with the top ranking for video game colleges not just in undergraduate studies, but graduate as well. School of Cinematic Arts dean Elizabeth Daley cites the school’s “extraordinary environment” that allows students, faculty, and staff to expand the boundaries of game design each day. USC offers courses in serious games, immersive environments, and game infrastructures, with not just bachelor’s degrees, but master’s and even PhDs as well. Interactive Media Division associate professor Tracy Fullerton shares, “I think it is the balance of practice and theory, entrepreneurialism and research, aesthetics and technology, individual expression and collaborative teamwork … that makes our program such a special place to study game design.” One especially intriguing aspect of USC’s program is its incredibly popular Demo Days, where student projects are on display for representatives from the gaming industry and talent agencies.

UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

While kids in K-12 classrooms take advantage of learning through video games, University of Delaware students go to work to create the games, learning as they develop skills for real careers in game development. As part of an Educational Games Development course in computer science, students created an interactive computer board game called Shape Shifters, which teaches fraction concepts to students at the Chester Community Charter School in Chester, Pennsylvania. Through the game, students answer multiple choice questions, moving spaces toward a finish line. Played in a social setting, the game offers both competition and teamwork, encouraging students to learn not just independently, but by helping each other as well. This course has been incredibly popular at the University of Delaware, and has sparked attention from Microsoft researchers, with whom the school may soon collaborate. Beyond Microsoft, the university also plans to publish the games on the XO website, allowing students participating in the One Laptop Per Child program to take advantage of the project as well.

This post is for those young learners who are enthusiastic about game design and think seriously about taking it as a career. As game culture penetrates more and more into our life and learning, the opportunities might just start booming.

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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