Domingo 28 de Abril de 2002, Ip nš 13

Wanted: video game developers of tomorrow
Somewhere, in a darkened bedroom or a cinderblock basement, a kid is sitting at a computer, dreaming of creating the perfect video game.

In the past, that dream probably would have died.

But as the market for video games accelerates into a multibillion dollar industry, the need for developers to feed games to the marketplace has grown. Universities and smaller private institutes are establishing courses -- and even degrees -- to fill the need.

Students who might have signed up for film classes a decade or two ago are increasingly looking at video games as a means of expression.

"Students were coming up to me, asking me why we weren't offering game courses," said Andy Phelps, an instructor of information technology at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

Phelps organized a concentration in game development, which was offered for the first time in the winter quarter. He said the school is planning to offer a degree soon.

One of his students, Zachary Welch, 23, arrived at RIT to major in computer engineering, but wants to make games a career.

"It's not going to be that big a jump," said Welch, a Chicago native who heads a campus gaming club that he hopes to expand nationwide.

Welch, like many now studying gaming, grew up with games.

"When I was a kid, my dad worked and my mom worked off and on, so they pretty much dropped us off at the arcade with $20," he said. "Games are so universal. Everybody plays games."

Other schools are further along. Georgia Tech offers a master's program in game development, and Southern California is starting one this fall.

A dream come true

The Art Institutes International at San Francisco began a Game Art & Design program last fall. For David Yost, 21, of Merrimack, New Hampshire, finding the school on the Internet was a dream come true.

"I always loved video games, and I wanted to do something I loved for a living," said Yost, one of six students in the fledgling program, where the cost can hit $5,000 a quarter.

For that money, students don't sit around playing "Final Fantasy X" or "Madden NFL 2002."

At RIT, for example, students learn about programming two- and three-dimensional graphics. They also take Programming for Digital Media, Writing for Interactive Multimedia and the obscurely titled Multi-User Media Spaces.

The payoff, the students hope, is a chance to work on cutting-edge titles at a top game company such as Electronic Arts, Sega or Konami.

One of the best-known sources of development talent is the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Washington, and Vancouver, Canada. DigiPen opened in 1988 as a computer animation and simulation company doing work for architects and engineers.

When they were asked to create a season's worth of cartoon shows, they realized they didn't have enough staff, Vice President Jason Chu said. Advertising got them just two or three of the more than 30 people needed.

"We realized that without manpower, the industry couldn't grow," he said.

  13/04/2002. CNN.