More and more, video game-related courses are being offered in colleges around the country in response to the digital media industry’s appetite for skilled workers and the tastes of a new generation of students raised on Game Boy and Xbox.
Animation I, Cognition & Gaming and Computer Music are being offered as part of the year-old minor in game studies at RPI, one of dozens of schools that have added courses or degree programs related to video gaming in recent years.
RPI, which plans to offer a major in the field next year, graduated 27 gaming minors in its first year and expects a jump this year.
“The concept of designing good video games, or designing good human-computer interactions — that’s what I’m interested in,” said Chelsea Hash, a senior with a video game minor and a major in electronic arts.
From Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute to the University of Colorado, at least 50 schools around the country now offer courses in video game study, development or design, according to industry groups.
Some of the schools offer full-blown academic programs. The University of Washington offers a certificate in game design; the Art Institute of Phoenix gives a bachelor of arts in game art and design; and the University of Pennsylvania has a master’s in computer graphics and game technology.
Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, said the high number of schools adding programs in the past few years shows how the game industry is maturing.
Della Rocca said that in the early Space Invader days of game development, one developer could mentor a handful of workers. Now, games can cost $10 million to develop and require 200 workers, making the industry hungrier for specialized skills.
RPI humanities dean John Harrington said the idea of teaching about video games in college “brings out the Puritan in some people,” but he said the technology-oriented school can’t afford to ignore the booming field of digital media.
Administrators at RPI say they developed a serious academic program that marries technology and creativity.