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  • Capitalizing on Curriculum: Industry Partnerships in Game Education

    - Beth A. Dillon
  •  The past year has been fruitful in both new game programs and collaborations between industry and academia. Ex'pression College started a Bachelors in Game Art and Design, Michigan State University launched their Serious Game Design Program, University of Bradford expanded with a Masters in Artificial Intelligence for Games, and Rensselaer announced a new major in Games and Simulation, just to name a few.

    As academic efforts grow, industry has been called on to participate in the education of potential future games industry employees. The British Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism, and Labour Member of Parliament Shaun Woodward even suggested that games industry should sponsor an academy in the United Kingdom.

    So where have these collaborations happened? Certainly industry presence is strong in vocational schools which seek out professionals to hold teaching positions, but several universities have gone a step further to either adapt certain industry technology and its associated curriculum or assist existing software and middleware developers create curriculum for packaged kits.

    Directed in its focus, a new class from NVIDIA was offered at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign concerning parallel processing. The class, co-taught by Dr. David Kirk, chief scientist at graphics-processing industry leader NVIDIA, and Dr. Wen-mei Hwu, the AMD Jerry Sanders Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois, was held to address parallel processing as the emerging computing standard for gaming and other graphics intensive systems.

    Most unique in the full program partnerships was Audiokinetic Inc., an audio solution provider
    for the video game industry, and the Conservatory of Recording Arts and
    Sciences located the United States. The Conservatory created the first
    Manufacturer's Certification curriculum for Wwise, Audiokinetic's audio pipeline solution. Similar in its specialized emphasis was the collaboration of the Savannah College of Art and Design and Electronic Arts, which started a SCAD studio pilot program focusing on professional production practices for video game artwork. EA provided production artists and art directors while SCAD's School of Film and Digital Media developed curriculum with faculty.

    Wwise's interface.

    University of Abertay Dundee, known for its Dare to Be Digital game contest, is currently working on a training program that uses Instinct's virtual games development studio as a package available for licensing by universities and colleges teaching games design. Instinct Studio is a game development suite that provides its users with a variety of WYSIWYG tools, including project-based resource management, fully-integrated run-time editable components, hot loading, and real-time previewing.

    However, it's not just universities that are getting into development of course materials. Escape Studios has been commissioned by Pixar Animation Studios to develop a comprehensive set of courseware for Pixar's RenderMan software. Additionally, PlayStation and online game developer TheyerGFX have partnered and created a new 3D learning solution for schools with 3D Model Builder, designed to teach the language of PlayStation.

    Instinct Studio's beta version.

    With so many options available, what seem to be the most common choices?


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