What you need to know about a career in video game programming - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

What you need to know about a career in video game programming

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Considering a career in video game programming development and design? At Coleman University, we offer a program that will prepare you for the in-and-outs of the video game industry. With coursework focused in animation, coding, modeling, and more, Coleman graduates enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to design and develop their very own games! Below are five things that potential students may not know about a degree in Game Programming Development and Design from Coleman:

1. Students design and programmatically create 2D and 3D games from conception to implementation. While the creation of 2D games (like Angry Birds) and 3D games (like Halo) share fundamental concepts, inherent differences in coding demand specialized training. As a result, Coleman graduates possess well-rounded skillsets and are qualified to pursue a career in game design or development. 

In an effort to provide additional hands-on experience, Coleman encourages students to work on independent game projects, as well as participate in two “Game Jams” per year with our partner, the San Diego chapter of the International Game Developers Association. A game jam is a game development marathon that can last up to 48 hours and is meant to be collaborative. Generally, game jams bring people together in a single location and are given a theme on which to base their game. Students form teams to bounce ideas off of each other, ask questions, and receive feedback from group leaders and competing teams. Though they only have 48 hours to produce a prototype, many developers go on to complete their games afterwards. By designing and programming their own games, students receive the opportunity to experience the responsibilities and tasks that accompany a career in game design and development. It also allows the students to create a portfolio of their work, which can set an applicant apart when applying for jobs after graduation. As a matter of fact, some of the assets created are used in actual games!

2. The skills, technology, and processes learned from the Game Programming Development and Design degree program are not limited to the gaming industry. They lend core concepts to careers in modeling, computer graphics, product demonstration, film, marketing, and crime scene reenactment. The program, though specialized, provides solid foundational knowledge upon which students can build. With the wide range of coding-based professions available today, a degree in Game Programming Development and Design from Coleman grants students the freedom to branch out and find the niche that fits them best. 

Technology is continually evolving, so people in this particular profession need to be kept abreast of new developments and trends. Coleman utilizes the most up-to-date hardware and software packages in an effort to prepare students for an ever-changing industry. To meet the needs of employers, the program was built with industry input to give students a solid foundational understanding of the skills necessary for the game development process. With a thorough understanding of the underlying concepts of coding hardware and software, Coleman graduates are equipped to translate their education and training to the future.

3. Coleman’s Game Programming Development and Design program has a low student-to-faculty ratio. Due to the highly specialized nature of game design and development, students benefit from increased one-on-one instruction from industry experts. With a team of highly qualified instructors imparting their years of experience and knowledge on their students, they serve not only as teachers, but also as mentors for fledgling game designers. The small class sizes allow the instructors to get to know each student individually, ensuring insight into each student’s progress, strengths and weaknesses, and goals. 

Coleman benefits from employing instructors that have left real-life marks in the game development and design industry. Here are three faculty members that have succeeded in the field and now shape aspiring designers at Coleman:

Tommy Mitchell is our Level Design, Digital Sculpting and Game Programming Capstone Instructor. He is an 8-year veteran of the game industry with over 10 titles shipped under his belt. He continues to work for Sony Interactive Entertainment via San Diego and Santa Monica Studios. Various shipped titles include: MLB 08: The Show, MLB 09: The Inside, MOD Nation Racers, Starhawk, Pixel Junk Shooter, Sound Shapes, and the God of War franchise.
William Martin is our Photoshop and Shader Materials Instructor. His extensive experience in the game industry includes High Moon Studios and Sony Online Entertainment (Daybreak Games).
Travis Vasquez started his own business in 2008 as a freelance designer. Vasquez has worked with Allied Waste, Zebra Technologies, DVS Shoes, Western Outdoors, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), Borrego Solar, Valve, and Virtuos to name a few. With ten years of corporate management experience and eighteen years of design, he has a thorough knowledge of the game development pipeline.

Another benefit of a low student-to-faculty ratio is the ability to collaborate with your classmates. At Coleman, this results in a student-centric learning environment where students are able to increase their engagement with the material and discuss what they have learned. Instead of an instructor merely reciting information for the students to memorize, they are forced to contextualize the material and put what they have learned into action.

4. The student will gain valuable experience developing for console and PC platforms. With the utilization of 3D technology in video gaming since its inception 24 years ago, designers have made great strides in the development of both PC and console gaming. The ability to move characters on multiple planes (left, right, up, down, nearer, and farther) opened the door to developing new types of games. As this software became more and more advanced, the hardware had to keep up with the high demands that the developer was placing upon it. As a result, a split between console gaming and PC gaming emerged. Until recently, developing for PCs and developing for consoles was quite different. Coleman’s program teaches students how to navigate the intricacies of both categories: navigating hardware restrictions, developing physics engines, and mastering coding languages. Students will also learn arguably the two most popular game engines available today: Unity and Unreal. Though used to accomplish similar tasks, these game engines possess different attributes, strengths, and limitations. 

For example, Unity can be used to develop 3D platform games, but it really shines when used for mobile gaming and on 2D platforms. If you plan on developing games for mobile devices, then Unity would be the right game engine for you. On the other hand, Unreal’s advanced physics engine and powerful 3D renderings make Unreal the choice for developers that want to create the next great open-world adventure game. With the ability to program in both game engines, Coleman graduates possess well-rounded skillsets that really set themselves apart in the job interview process.

5. Coleman’s Game Programming Development and Design program believes that game development is a form of human expression. You may not be able to draw, write music, or sing, but Coleman’s program gives you the tools to express yourself through your career. More than anything, Coleman offers students the opportunity to pursue their passions and bring their visions to life. Video games are an immersive medium, in that the designer is able to lie out his ideas, but the player has the ability to explore the world without strict constraints. Though there are general guidelines that a player must follow, players are not corralled into a beginning, middle, and end quite like movies or books. This allows designers to plant hidden meanings and Easter eggs into their work, to make it a bit more personal. More and more, designers are linking real-world connections like emotions to gameplay, much like a storyteller does with his words. Designers have a story to tell, and they are using this medium as a creative outlet. With a degree in game programming development and design from Coleman, you, too, will be able to tell your story.

Video games, once considered a second-class medium, have sprouted to mainstream relevance. With major studios investing billions of dollars into new titles every year, the industry is reaching new highs that were once thought unrealistic. Video games have become an art form, much like film and literature. Gone are the days of minimal storylines and straightforward instructions. Now, video games can possess hundreds of hours of gameplay with blockbuster plots and sprawling landscapes. As such, gamers, now and into the future, will plunge themselves into these games, not just as a means of rudimentary entertainment, but immersing themselves in worlds as grandiose as the most magnificent fairy tale. Though limited by hardware constraints, game designers are pushing the limits of what many would have considered impossible even a few years ago. Just like the impact of 3D technology’s introduction over twenty years ago, the next great technological advancement may change the world of gaming forever. At Coleman, we strive to give our students the tools that they need to thrive in this ever-evolving industry. 

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