A Higher Learning for Video Gaming

on December 23, 2009 10:00 AM

Picture this, you’re in your senior year in High School and your 80 year old teacher asks you the inevitable question. “What are you all going to do with your lives? What colleges will you go to?” I don’t know what they expected me to say. I didn’t have much interest in much of anything enough to spend 4 years or more finding the entire “how to” of something just to end up hating it. But this generation has a shining star to guide their ship of dreams. Something I wish I had more information about back in my day. That star is schools like DigiPen.

DigiPen located in Redmond, Washington is fast becoming a Mecca for the gamers who are born with that little extra “spark” that takes them from buying a good game to making a great game (or a crappy one). Being the only accredited four-year college for making video games gives DigiPen the unofficial title of “Harvard of Video Games,” it is also locally known as “Donkey Kong U.” All those eager button mashing gamers who think they can make a better game than the ones out now have an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is. With degrees in areas like: Bachelor of Arts in Game Design, Bachelor of Science in Real-Time interactive Simulation, Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Master of Science in Computer Science to name a few.

Prospective students have a plethora of game development houses to enter and expand their knowledge. But don’t be fooled. College in any area of study is hard work. It’s said that the same skills required to make mainstream games is equivalent to rocket science. Physics, Mathematics and Computer Programming are just of the few aspects where either a knack or a good mind would have a great start. (Sorry lazy gamers that just want to play all day. Work hard, play HARDER).

Only a meager 200 empty seats become available each year to the 24,000 plus requests for applicants. Now you don’t get the top by admitting half-asses, you take only the best. So in the end, 500 individuals fight for the 200 available seats but only 36 make it to the classroom, a classroom where most students attend 6-7 days for up to 14 hours a day. Now that’s dedication to perfection. Tuition being a wallet shrinking $13,000 a year if you get in, scares off all but the truly dedicated to their art and dreams.

With the economy the way it is, jobs have been few and far between. But, in an industry where “economic crisis” means more people unemployed at home with time for video games, this industry has yet to see anything near a recession. It could be that mega giants Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo hire some grads right out of DigiPen and set them to make $50,000-$60,000 a year on average on their own, or $100,000 or more when you make that great hit with a great crew. So the next time you’re in class and the teacher asks you what college you’re going to or what you plan to do in life, you now have the high horse to sit upon and smirk while you tell her that video gaming is your future and you missed the homework cause you were “studying” your future degree.

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