Although the Minnesota School of Business and Globe College is adept at teaching students how to tackle the business world, it’s recently become interested in virtual worlds, as well.
Although the Minnesota School of Business and Globe College is adept at teaching students how to tackle the business world, it’s recently become interested in virtual worlds, as well. A new degree program in gaming was just launched and IT program director Eddie Nestingen chats about education, storytelling, and getting serious about games.
Why did the school decide to start a program that teaches game development?
We specialize in training students in practical, real-world skills. Computer games are everywhere–at work, at school, at home, over the Internet and in arcades. People are constantly surrounded by everything from solitaire to Max Payne. The ability to develop and create games has become a real-world skill.
Why do you think the Twin Cities needs a program like this one?
We believed there was a need for a comprehensive gaming program in the metropolitan area. The Minneapolis and St. Paul communities have always rewarded leaders in the disciplines of art and technology. When we started our research about schools, we found that the only serious gaming schools were on the East or West coasts. We believed we could provide a quality education in the area of gaming for people who wanted to receive their training locally.
What kind of process did you go through to launch the program?
We anticipated that it would take about 6 to 9 months to develop and receive approval of our gaming program. At last, after 15 months of work, we were waiting for approval from the State of Minnesota and our accrediting body. Finally, last July, accreditations in hand, we were able to offer our Programming and Game Development program to the public. We had discovered why so few schools offer a true gaming program.
For students considering going into game development, what are some strengths they should already have going in?
A comprehensive gaming program is not an easy beast to wrestle to the ground. With some software programs, math can be sidestepped. This is not true with gaming. Databases can be pushed aside if you only want to write code and limit your programming capabilities. This is also not true with gaming. A technical understanding of math, databases, and programming languages are musts if you’re serious about writing games.
Also, being a good storyteller and knowing how to visually present your story are crucial. Not everyone can charm an audience the way Garrison Keillor spins yarns about his mythical city. Gaming requires that you keep the interest of your gamers by hooking them on the plot and subtleties of a good story.
What prerequisites are there for your program, and what can students expect once they’re in the program?
We discovered that a “simple” Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in gaming would require a hybrid degree. Our students are required to demonstrate a math standard before they’re admitted to the program. Our AAS in gaming is approximately 30 credits more than most of our other AAS degrees. It’s very similar to our AAS Software Developer degree, allowing our students to seek employment as a software developer if they’re not willing to relocated or can’t find a job locally in gaming.
If someone is an avid gamer and dabbles in development, why should they think about enrolling in a program like yours?
Developing games is no longer something that can be done by someone with an extreme interest in gaming. Billions of dollars are spent yearly on games and gaming at all levels. We have a superb program that is designed to get serious gamers into the gaming and software industries.
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