Getting in a degree in video games

Posted on August 1, 2006 
Filed Under Uncategorized


The University of Baltimore has created specialized courses, degree programs and internships to help students sharpen their video game skills.

The goal is to teach students that the games business is about more than entertainment, as software continues to have applications in medicine, defense and corporate training.

Students are also learning that liberal arts skills — not just computer science education — are necessary to be competitive in the field.

“Games have become very sophisticated and very technical, so the need for education has become greater and greater,” said Joe Biglin, vice president of future markets for BreakAway Ltd., a video game company based in Hunt Valley.

Game companies, local business leaders and area educators, prompted by the cluster of game companies in the Hunt Valley area, developed the “2+2+2” program four years ago to prepare high school and college students for careers in the rapidly changing industry.

The program works with several public high schools, community colleges and the University of Baltimore.

Some business leaders say it is the most extensive program of its kind in the area. By educating local students, Baltimore gaming companies say they won’t need to recruit talent from places like Los Angeles to develop and market games.

Area electronic-games companies have created games such as “Civilization,” a PC game from Firaxis Games and “Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends from Big Huge Games.

“Students can begin the “2+2+2” program in high school, where they take courses for college credit. They can then transfer those credits to one of several community colleges in the state, then to the University of Baltimore, said Kathleen Harmeyer, director of the UB simulation and digital entertainment degree program.

The program incorporates game concept, design and testing, programming and team building. Harmeyer said students are also required to complete two internships to gain real-world experience and to work in teams to create a game in every course. “It’s computer science with a twist,” Harmeyer said.

Marc Prensky, the purveyor of the idea of the digital immigrant/native gap and author of “Don’t Bother Me Mom, I’m Learning” will surely approve.


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