by George Heymann

Video game popularity spurs increased demand for game degree programs

by A. Montaqim

Technology Market

The number of programs in video game design, development and programming continues to rise at American colleges, universities, art and trade schools across the country. According to new research from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), American colleges and universities will offer 343 programs in game design, development and programming, including 301 undergraduate and 42 graduate programs, during the 2011-12 academic year.

“It is encouraging to see so many institutions of higher learning preparing students for careers in our creative and high-tech industry,” said Rich Taylor, senior vice president for communications and industry affairs at the ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers.

“Video games are everywhere – nearly three quarters of American households play games, and education, healthcare and business professionals are using them to help us lead happier, healthier and more productive lives. With an increasing number of schools now offering graduate programs in game design and development, students have even greater access to the training they need to meet this growing demand.”

Students interested in game design and development careers can choose from a broad range of degrees and geographic options. Schools offer programs ranging from professional certificates and associate degrees to master’s degrees and doctorate programs.

This year’s list includes graduate programs such as the Game Design and Development program at Rochester Institute of Technology, the Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development program at Southern Methodist University, the Game Development program at DePaul University and the Serious Game Design program at Michigan State University.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia are home to schools offering design and development programs. California remains at the forefront of this educational field, with 54 institutions of higher learning offering game-related programs, followed by Texas (24), Illinois (20), Florida (18), New York (15), Minnesota (14), Massachusetts (13), Arizona (10), Michigan (10), and Pennsylvania (10).

The continued growth of video game programs coincides with the overall growth of the entertainment software industry, and the increasing role of games in daily life. Computer and video game sales in 2010 totaled $25.1 billion and game companies now directly and indirectly employ more than 120,000 people in 34 states.

According to the ESA’s 2011 Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry report, 72 percent of American households now play computer and video games. Reaching beyond entertainment, computer and video games are helping teachers bring 21st century technology to the classroom, improving healthcare outcomes and allowing business professionals to hone their skills.


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