RIT Brings its ’A’ Game! University Offers Bachelor’s in Game Design and Development

Bachelor of science degree complements existing master of science degree

EDITOR’S NOTE: To watch a video podcast about the new degree programs, visit http://www.thetigerbeat.com/rss/podcasts/game_on.mov

Rochester Institute of Technology has a new game plan. From inside the classrooms at RIT to the boardroom at Microsoft to family rooms around the world, it’s a win-win for gamers everywhere.

Building on the success of RIT’s gaming curricula in its computing courses, combined with the job placements of its graduates at some of the top-tier gaming companies in the world, RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences has launched a bachelor of science in game design and development. The bachelor’s degree rounds out RIT’s current offering of a master of science in game design and development, which began in fall 2006.

“We are happy to be involved with the games programs at RIT,” says Dave Luehmann, general manager, Microsoft Games Studios. “The curriculum is well aligned with the skills we look for in new hires at Microsoft Game Studios and has already resulted in several great hires. RIT is truly preparing students for careers in the industry.”

Microsoft Game Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment of America and Linden Labs—all of whom employ RIT alumni— are just a few of the companies that will have a presence next month at Game Developers Conference. RIT will be there too to officially introduce its comprehensive degree offerings in the field and showcase student work. This annual conference brings together top gaming executives, game developers, publishers, and students from all over the world. The Game Developers Conference will be held March 5-9 in San Francisco.

Jorge Díaz-Herrera, dean of the Golisano College; Andrew Phelps, director of game design and development in the Golisano College; Jim Leone, chair of RIT’s information technology department; and Steve Jacobs, RIT associate professor of information technology will attend.

Six RIT students will also be at the conference to demonstrate games they’ve designed and built. Lynette Fernandes, an RIT master’s degree candidate, is one of them. The International Game Developers Association awarded Fernandes a prestigious scholarship to attend the conference. She is one of 25 students internationally to win a scholarship. Fernandes attended high school and college in Goa, India and decided to pursue a career in game design after her fellow classmates told her, “Girls don’t do gaming!” She says when selecting a university to pursue a master’s degree in game design, RIT had the most to offer.

“I was greatly impressed by the flexibility of the courses offered and by the faculty,” says Fernandes. “Since my first day of classes, I have enjoyed it here. I’ve never seen such dedicated and passionate professors, not to mention they are a lot of fun. Education has never been so enjoyable for me.”

Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Development
The bachelor of science in game design and development provides a broad-based undergraduate education in computing while exposing students to the breadth of game development processes. Students will complete coursework in the liberal arts, social sciences, and the laboratory sciences.

The degree is an interdisciplinary collaboration with RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. Gaming students will be required to take courses in both design and animation.

“Game developers are responsible for the programming component, but they can’t ignore the content and art behind the games,” says Andrew Phelps, director of game design and development in the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. “Both our bachelor and master’s degrees require students to work on teams and get a flavor of the dynamics between the artists and the developers.”

The degree is intended specifically for students with career aspirations in the professional games industry or a related field such as simulation, edutainment or visualization, and focuses on producing graduates that understand the technical roots of the medium.

Master of Science in Game Design and Development
The master’s degree in game design and development complements the bachelor’s degree for those RIT students who choose to further their studies.

Applicants will be required to submit a portfolio. Matriculated students will take a series of core courses in such areas as business, law, electronic entertainment and history of games. Majors will be offered in game engine development and artificial intelligence for games. Students will also declare a minor in art, design, or an area of computing that relates to gaming. The master’s degree culminates with a capstone project in which students create their own games.

Luis Ramirez is an RIT alumnus whose capstone project landed him a job at one of the top-tier developers within the commercial game space. Ramirez is a software engineer at Electronic Arts. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and an RIT master’s degree in information technology with concentrations in game programming, game design, and computer graphics. At Electronic Arts he just completed work on the game Def Jam: Icon, contributing to the game’s camera and audio systems. Ramirez says his educational experience at RIT prepared him for working with his Electronic Arts team comprised of a game designer, director, and producer.

“I found my concentration in game programming in which I worked in groups with other RIT students to learn C ++ and Direct X to be a vital experience for me,” says Ramirez. “This is where I discovered the key ingredients of making games: working well with others, understanding the technology, project planning and management, the need to constrain ideas and visions to meet deadlines, and most importantly, to complete a high quality game. These are critical skills to have in this business and my sequence of courses at RIT helped me build my skill set.”

For more information about the gaming degrees, faculty, research and alumni visit http://games.rit.edu.

Media Note: Nadia Bolalek, marketing coordinator in the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences will be the on-site media contact throughout the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. She can be reached at (585) 451-2473. Please contact Kelly Downs at (585) 475-5094 or kaduns@rit.edu prior to March 6 for any media inquiries.

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