New Course Collaboration Preps UT Students For Gaming Careers

Recently, PricewaterhouseCoopers priced the video game industry at a cool $56 billion, estimating that it would reach $82 billion by 2015.

In entertainment terms, that’s more than twice the total revenue of the recorded-music industry and three-fifths of the film industry (including box office receipts and DVD sales), according to The Economist.

That’s why UT has unveiled plans for a new capstone course meant to prepare UT graduates for a career in gaming: The Game Development and Design Project.

The course, comprised of 30 students chosen from a pool open to the entire university, is intended to mark the culmination of the Game Development and Design Program, which features courses across the departmental spectrum—from RTF to CS and back. The class splits the students into different teams, each tasked with creating an original project using the skills they’ve developed in their respective disciplines  to write and code games.

If you’re wondering when all this will start, it already has—kind of. Two classes from the Game Design program are available for the 2011-2012 school year: Digital Identity Design, which focuses on the fundamentals of avatar creation, and Interactive Digital Environments, which will focus on creating digital spaces through the use of advanced architectural techniques. But for the capstone course itself and a larger plate of Game Design offerings, you’ll have to wait until January 2013.

What makes this project so special is the collaboration involved—both between the different schools (the College of Communication, Fine Arts, and Natural Sciences) and between the public and private sectors. Because, for this project, UT has secured the expertise of some of the leading lights of Austin gaming.

“We went to industry professionals and they responded by telling us ‘We need graduates who can do X, Y, and Z,'” explains Bruce Pennycook, a music and RTF professor who doubles as the Panel Chair for the Digital Art and Media Bridging Disciplines Program. “And that undoubtedly shaped our decisions for the curriculum. Besides making recommendations on course development, the professionals also lecture classes, offer internships, and just give general advice on how to break into the industry—including lessons from their own experiences.”

And these are professionals in every sense of the word: so far UT has signed on gaming luminaries Rodney Gibbs, founder of two game companies that started up Challenge Games and ran it through its acquisition by Zynga, and Richard Vogel, founder (and now VP of Production of) Bioware’s Austin studio. Bioware, for the uninitiated, has just released Star Wars: The Old Republic, a story-driven MMO (massive multiplayer online game) as critically acclaimed as it is popular (very).

Austin may not be Silicon Valley, but with this program feeding young talent into the region’s high-tech gaming industry, we just might be Pixel City.

Photo courtesy Flickr user GlobalGameJam.


Tags: , , , , ,


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment