New Class Focuses on Designing Games
Introduction to game development offered through Tri-College
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 15:10
A class dedicated specifically to game development is coming to Tri-College this spring semester.
Offered as a pilot class in 2011, Introduction to Game Development reached its cap, filled only with students who had heard about the class through someone else. It is being offered again this semester to primarily Moorhead students with some NDSU students who had caught word of the class. However, next semester, the class will be offered through Tri-College.
This class will be scheduled on Wednesdays from 7:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. in MacLean 181 on the MSUM campus.
“I went on a sabbatical and presented the idea [for this class] at three academic conferences and got good feedback,” said Andrew Chen, associate professor for the department of computer science at MSUM. “This is being advertised to the Tri-College because clearly, if every time this MSUM class has been offered, NDSU students have taken it through Tri-College just by word-of-mouth, there must be an unmet demand for a class like this within the Tri-College.”
Introduction to Game Development is structured differently than most classes. There are no tests or quizzes in the class, and the instructor steps back and gives students free reign to create their games.
Teamwork will also be an element of the class. Students will be put into teams to create games, and throughout the semester, game quality will be voted on. Losing teams will be dissolved, and members will be put into different teams that will decrease in size.
“Because it will be teams that make the games, and not individuals, and because there is no restriction to a particular type of game, it is impossible to say exactly what students will learn, aside from teamwork,” Chen said. “But they will all learn, and they will all gain useful experiences in the process.”
Unlike other courses, students will have the chance to lecture the class, instead of the professor owning the front of the room. In addition, students will grade each other’s games by voting on the best games.
Chen feels that since he doesn’t have a teaching assistant, and because students know more in general about games than he does, this grading system would be the most beneficial, he said.
“This class will have the feel of a reality TV show like “Survivor” or “American Idol” because of the audience voting aspect, and so definitely some of the excitement of the class is the anticipation regarding [which team] will survive,” Chen said.
The class is being offered because of the increasing demand for a game development class. According to Chen, computer science majors often chose that major because of they are interested in designing games.
“This class is as real and experiential as it gets,” Chen said. “The teams have the same options they would if they were companies in a game industry.”
Chen explained that teams can hire, fail, voluntarily dissolve and fire, just like a gaming company could. Individuals can also choose to quit their teams.
“When done with the class, there will be at least one game that the student can point to and say ‘I had a role in making that!’” Chen said. “Sometimes students will take games that didn’t survive and continue to work on them after the class is over, so a student might wind up with multiple games in their game portfolio as a result of this class.”
Chen believes students will retain intellectual property ownership of the work they do in their class, he said.
“Each semester, the distribution of talent is different,” Chen said. “So things like the number of programmers, artists, writers and sound-music-voice people can all vary. This is actually one of the reasons why the class is designed the way it is. This makes each semester a different experience for me, and every student’s experience a unique adventure full of excitement.”