December 22, 2004

Another undergraduate game program

by Michael Mateas · , 3:17 pm

Worcester Polytechnic Institute is joining the ranks of schools offering game-related degree programs with its new four-year undergraduate program in computer game design. Like Georgia Tech’s undergraduate program in Computational Media, Worcester’s program combines training in computer science and the humanities (though the article incorrectly says that Worcester program is “the first field of study of its kind” to do this – Tech’s program has already launched). Interestingly, the article quotes CMU ETC’s Jesse Shell as having reservations about such programs. The ETC’s approach is to bring in students with traditional undergraduate training in the arts, humanities or engineering/computing and train them to be interdisciplinary at the masters level (similar to the approach in Tech’s IDT masters program). Schell is concerned that students in an interdisciplinary undergraduate program will have breadth without depth. My response is that at the masters level it may be too late to create designer/programmers who truly have interdisciplinary skills, people who won’t just be prepared to work as anonymous specialists on large game design teams, butwill rather be the leaders who invent new genres of interactive entertainment.

3 Responses to “Another undergraduate game program”

  1. grockwel: Research Notes Says:
    Worcester Polytechnic Institute program in Game Design
    Grand Text Auto has a blog entry about, Another undergraduate game program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute….

  2. mark Says:

    On the interdisciplinary undergraduate programs, I like the idea, but I can envision a tendency to treat the computer science component as “learning a tool”, i.e. “I’m really a game designer, but to do game design I have to learn how to program in C++, so I’m going to take a C++ class”. To some extent computers-as-tools is a fine view, but to really design things a good foundational knowledge of computer science is pretty useful, rather than just learning a set of tools and programming languages. So hopefully these programs won’t start skimping on the computer science portion by turning it into a trade-school version of CS.

    I’d probably be a little more comfortable that there’d be enough time to really do everything in depth with a 5-year interdisciplinry program, but there’s of course financial pressures against that.

  3. noah Says:

    Interestingly, it looks like this program is now searching for a faculty member focused on “narrative in digital media.”

    Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is seeking a full-time, tenure-track, Assistant Professor to teach narrative in digital media. We welcome interests in story telling for games and interactive media, digital writing and rhetoric, information design, multimedia authoring and new media studies.

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