By Cillea Houghton
Fitchburg State is ready to delve into the world of game design. On Wednesday, Jan. 30, those interested in the university’s new game-design major met in Hammond for an informational session regarding the various courses offered and what students can expect from them.
“We want to set you up to be self-starters,” Sam Tobin, assistant professor of Communications Media and Game Design, told the students at the meeting. “We want you to be employable in the future.”
Randy Howe, chairperson of the Communications Media Department, explained that game design is a growing industry in Massachusetts and, after interest from students and faculty, the university is turning this field into a major. FSU is the first state university in New England to offer it as a major and is hoping to have 32 freshmen enrolled in the program in the fall.
Students will have access to a variety of courses, such as Elements of Game Design and 3D Game Development, along with required Communications classes. In addition to these courses, the university is hoping to hire two new staff members for the major.
Communications Professor Jeff Warmouth said that the game-design major is aimed toward people who are “passionate about games and interested in pursuing game development as a career,” adding that those who lack experience in the industry are also welcome to apply.
Warmouth also explained what students in the major can expect to get out of it.
“They’re going to know a lot about games and what makes games tick,” he said. “They’re going to have a lot of experience building games and game assets.” He added that students will not only have access to the design aspect of games, but can learn the writing technique as well.
Both Tobin and Warmouth agreed that one major factor that sets FSU apart from other schools with game design is that it’s a public institution offering a wide range of classes for a reasonable price.
Students will be exposed to the theoretical aspect of the gaming industry and also be engaged in hands-on learning with team-oriented projects that help develop their skills. Both aspects are reflected in the offered courses.
“All students will have a general exposure to the fundamentals of games,” Tobin said, concerning what students will learn coming into the major.
He also praised the Communications Department and believes that game design will help further its success.
“We have a long history in Communications Media of providing an excellent education; we turn out top-shelf students,” said Tobin. “We see it [the game design major] coming out of that same history of success. We have a real strong program we’re building off of.”
He added that student enthusiasm toward the new major gives him a sense of fulfillment.
“I’m happy to hear students’ interest in it,” said Tobin. “I think it’s the beginning of something important.”
Applications for the program, which require a copy of the students transcript, are due on Feb. 25 at the Communications Media office in Conlon 237. For more information, go to the Fitchburg State University website.