PORT RICHEY — Video games have evolved rapidly in the last thirty years, expanding from deskbound PCs and game consoles to mobile phone and tablets, making everyone a potential gamer.
With the influx in gaming opportunities comes a rise in the number of colleges nationally that are offering programs that allow students to pursue career paths in videogame programming and design.
In October, the Entertainment Software Association released a report showing that 385 colleges, universities, art and trade schools across the country this year offer courses, professional certificates, undergraduate or graduate degrees in video game design, development and programming, an increase from 2012, which underscores the growing demand to prepare middle and high school students in critical science, technology, engineering and math fields.
The Rasmussen College’s New Port Richey/West Pasco Campus, 8661 Citizens Drive, is one of those 385 schools and offers two related degrees through their School of Design- bachelors degrees in “Game and Simulation Programming” and “Digital Design and Animation.”
“I think it goes with the boom of videogaming in general,” said Anthony Sims, a full-time faculty member with the Rasmussen school of design. “People game on their mobile devices and tablets and are surrounded by interaction and they also want to create it.”
Sims added that the independent market for games, including smaller-scale PC games and mobile apps, is larger than ever.
California leads the nation with 72 schools offering video game-related courses and programs, but Florida comes in fourth with 23. Many people come into the program with the idea that video game design is all about the graphics, the characters and world building, but programmers behind the scenes have equal part in making game play a reality, Sims said.
He also said there is a mistaken impression that an art degree is useless, but the degrees are “multifaceted,” Sims said. Students who earn their diploma are able to pursue an array of fields relating to motion graphics, graphic design, software programming and more, even outside the scope of video game creation.
“These programs have a great focus on video games but you can always expand the idea of what you’re able to do and go out and get programming jobs,” Sims said.
According to ESA CEO Michael D. Gallagher, video games are the fastest-growing, most dynamic form of entertainment in the world today.
“These students are preparing to join an industry that creates interactive software, innovative hardware, and ecosystems that spawn new business models and online communities, transforming consumer experiences, spurring technological advancements, and impacting important areas including education, healthcare and business,” Gallagher said.
In the next month, Sims said, Rasmussen will announce some major changes to its video game programs to keep up with the times.
“Technology is ever-evolving,” Sims said. “It’s probably one of the fastest-evolving fields we deal with on a collegiate level. We have to adjust what we do to keep putting out quality students.”
The complete list of schools offering video game courses and degree programs can be found at http://www.theesa.com/games-improving-what-matters/schools.asp.