One of the things I hear a lot is that teaching game programming is just i gimmick – something to get kids interested but not a serious course leading to serious things. It occurred to me the other day that people don’t have the same reaction to video production courses. After all we know that the movie/TV industry is huge. And there is that whole “news media” and change the world though the arts thing going. But what I think people don’t understand is a) it requires serious computer science to create video games, b) the video game industry is not just huge but larger than the movie industry and c) the same skills involved in video game creation are transferable to other fields.
Colleges and universities seem to get this. See this interesting article More colleges in the US than ever offering gaming degrees. One good teaser quote (highlight mine):
"Today, video games are not only the fastest-growing entertainment medium, they are also increasingly used in education and business for professional training and e-learning," Rich Taylor, senior vice president for communications and industry affairs at the ESA, said in a statement. "These new college programs underscore the importance of the video games industry, which is well-poised to create additional employment and professional opportunities in the coming years."
Writing computer/video games is hard work. It also involves a lot of things that I think open the door for cross curriculum involvement. Graphic arts for images. Music for background sounds. And of course story telling. Every good game has a story. Why can’t students create educational games as well? You know they’ll have to learn it well to teach it to others. They may have fun doing it and they will definitely be after their friends to play it.
There are resources out there too. See this previous post for direct links to curriculum on the Academic Resource Center.