CSU Creates Computer Game Programming Degree

Columbus State University students have a new pathway to a thriving and cutting-edge field.

CSU this semester has launched a computer science bachelors degree in game programming. The track is designed to produce software developers for both serious games (simulated corporate and government training) and entertainment, in which a multi-billion dollar computer and video game industry, says Forbes magazine, produces about 500 new games every year.

Such a robust industry has made game programming and design an increasingly viable and attractive career choice among computer-savvy high school students, said Columbus State University Computer Science Professor Wayne Summers.

Summers and faculty colleague Rodrigo Obando have developed and incorporated the new curriculum alongside the general applied and advanced systems computer science degree tracks.

Summers, who chairs CSUs TSYS Department of Computer Science, forecasts a new-student enrollment surge in the next couple years among traditional-age students many of whom will be drawn to the programs entertainment-industry connection.

However, students in the program will realize a challenging and diverse curriculum. Its pretty rigorous, incorporating math and physics, plus creative writing and sociology and psychology, said Summers.

All of these skills, added Summers, are applicable in high-level game production, which represents an elaborate fusion of stagecraft, story-building and technology Not only will successful graduates be able to contribute to a major game design and production, theyll be prepared to lead the development team.

Beyond entertainment

Obando, who since last year has taught the CSUs first gaming course, Introduction to Game Programming, said the curriculum also will prepare students to meet a growing job market demand for professionals adept both artistically and in software programming.

The game design and programming profession also encompasses creating computer simulations for educational or training purposes that help decision-making throughout the professional world, including the military, many levels of government, corporate management and health care, Obando said.

Already, Obandos game programming classes are impacting Omega Training Group of Inc., of Columbus.

Omega a government contractor whose services include providing Army combat and training simulation programs has enrolled three employees in Obandos classes, including James Chapman. a masters degree candidate who recently finished a first responder simulation program for firefighters.

Obando, who has written simulation software for NASA, said his former employer also could be a future employer of graduates of CSUs new program.

Summers said another exciting development through the new curriculum is that its presenting opportunities for collaboration with departments across campus.

For example, music professor Bradley Palmer and his students contributed the musical scores to demo games created by Obandos students last spring, Were exploring opportunities with the art department (graphic design) and Language and Literature (story development) Its our goal to integrate more departments into the program , Summers said.

For more information about CSUs computer game programming degree track, contact Summers at 706-568-2410 or visit http://cs.colstate.edu/curriculum/bs_games_2007-2008.aspx.