New Degree Approved in Games and Emerging Media

Marist College is preparing to implement a new curriculum for students interested in the field of game design. The new major and minor program will be a collaboration between the Computer Science Department and the Media Arts Department, both of which currently offer their own concentrations that will continue to be available alongside this new major, which is expected to be offered in Fall 2015.

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The project started with market research data from Eduventure, which suggested there are opportunities in the area of games and emerging media. From there it took more than two years of development and interdisciplinary consultation to formalize what the Computer Science Department and the Media Arts Department had already been doing informally for 10 years, said associate professor of computer science Ron Coleman.

Assistant professor of media arts Karen Schrier has high hopes for the new curriculum, “The main reason we created this degree is to better serve students that are interested in learning about games. The students are really excited about the new major, but they are still able to just concentrate in games in either Computer Science or Media Studies and Production if they wish.”

ron colemanCourses in the new major will include a foundation in game design and development, including intro to games, business of games, introduction to programming and digital toolbox. Students will focus on one of two tracks, either Game Technical Development and Programming; or Game Design, Writing and Culture. The development side focuses on computational thinking, algorithms, data structures, physics and mathematical simulations, as Ron Coleman explained. The design side focuses on the game play and elements of the game, the writing and narrative elements, game production, and the historical, cultural, ethical and social aspects of gaming.

The new concentration is very different from current offerings in the Computer Science or Media Design majors. Students will be required to take courses across the breadth of both the technical and non-technical aspects of game design. Also, students will have to work with other students who might not be from their particular area of focus, which is a model of the “real world” of game production.

The hope is that this major will mimic the collaborative practices in the field today, giving students the opportunity to work together to create games and other media, but also specialize in developing specific skills, such as programming, design, or production. According to Coleman, “This new, interdisciplinary degree will help students be more attractive to employers since in the industry everyone has to work with others and in teams to be successful. Getting that practice and furthermore having a portfolio to demonstrate it is invaluable.”

Schrier said many students are very excited for this new major program, and are glad to be able to be a part of a more comprehensive and collaborative degree that will give them a real sense of how they will work in the real world. “They have been asking for this for years! They are super excited about it, and even though some are graduating and will miss being able to major in it, they are telling their high school friends who are considering Marist.”

Read the full “Fox Logic”  School of Computer Science & Mathematics magazine.

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