Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Level Up! Professor Irvine discusses new major in video game design

Posted on December 10, 2016 in Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

By: Katie Harris, Free Press Intern

Most college students have a passion for video game design and play video games as a hobby outside out of their academic studies. How about turning their passion into a major here at USM? On Wednesday, there was a discussion held at the Wishcamper Center called Level Up, which was moderated by English Professor Alexander Irvine. Students and faculty were present to see what Irvine had to say about his thoughts and ideas about having a video game design major at the university.

The discussion started off with Irvine talking about different varieties of video games that people play, which can be a combination of social and action games. Simple social games like Candy Crush are games that were designed to be played  in short periods of time and have emphasis on collaboration. Irvine went into detail about a virtual reality game called I Love Bees, launched in 2004, that was a collection  of puzzles. It was delivered online and via payphones for their next mission or task (where players respond to a phone call). This website won many awards and helped many other alternate reality games for video games. He mentioned that this game was so popular that there were people out in Hurricane Ivan. “One of the takeaways was that everything turned both into a story and a game.”

Irvine briefly discussed about where the boundaries are in video games and there are different ways to play and interact with them. This brought up why study video games? The video game industry is worth 100 billion worldwide and employs more than 150,000 people in the United States. The reason the industry has gotten so big is with the emergence in sports or professional video game leagues. It also spreads out gamification into businesses, education and even politics. Irvine said that the main reason we should study video games is it engages people to come together and work in teams to create something in something they are passionate about.

Irvine’s vision to create a video game design major for USM is to be part of a team that makes a game and how the industry works. The first three core classes are going to be a learning curve for students and in the fourth year, they would be divided into teams with what they have learned in from those classes to design a video game.

It is still in the beta stages but the USM Game Design program is expected to be multi-track and interdisciplinary with core courses that will be based on knowledge. Some of the courses that could be offered would be about tracks in programming, marketing, art/design, writing narrative design and the music piece. It will also create an emphasis of creativity on collaborations and building games in teams. The intention right now is to make the program both a minor and a major option for students.

There has been some discussion if video games are art. Irvine says, “Video games is a work of art,” because the team aspect is important in creating a video game. It is not one person that does all the work. It takes time, hard work, and dedication to design a video game with a team. With this video game design program, USM students will have the opportunity to turn their passion of game design and acquire new skills to prepare for a career in the video game industry.

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