Money & Business

Training Future Gamers Is Serious Business, Industry Group Says

By / Sep 16, 2013 (Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock)

As growth in the gaming industry creates demand for a more highly skilled workforce, the Entertainment Software Association notes that more schools than ever are offering dedicated video game classes and degree programs. The industry group is working on education initiatives of its own, too.

There’s good news for folks who like video games so much they wish they could make their own: The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) says it’s getting easier to do just that, thanks to the rise of specialized educational programs. More details:

Get a degree almost anywhere: The ESA reports that more universities than ever are offering video game degrees, with California leading the pack. A total of 385 U.S. schools have some coursework in video game design, and many offer degrees in the field: There are 55 associate’s, 226 bachelor’s, and 46 master’s degree programs. And if you want to get a Ph.D., four schools (University of California in Santa Cruz, DePaul University, Northeastern University, and the University of Texas at Dallas) currently give Student Gamer the opportunity to become Dr. Gamer.

Why it matters: According to the ESA, the $21 billion industry is increasingly in need of specialized skills, with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields particularly relevant. “Computer and video game design programs represent the most transformational areas of study in higher education today,” George Mason University’s Scott Martin, who heads the school’s computer and game design program, said in a statement. “Students study both the sciences and the arts, all in a revolving-role, team-based, project-based new pedagogical environment that is revolutionizing curricula to better prepare our students for the workforce of today and tomorrow.”

How the association is helping: Beyond tracking and reporting on the rising number of educational programs, the ESA is working on encouraging diversity in the industry among the college set. Last month, ESA announced a program, launched in tandem with the Black Association for Science and Engineering and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (among others), to encourage talented minority youth to follow their video-gaming dreams. The ESA Loft Video Game Innovation Fellowship will award 20 gaming fellowships to students ages 16 to 24 based on “their vision, creativity, and potential impact on their community” to create civic-minded games that positively address social issues “through technology they are comfortable with.” Applications are being accepted through October 1.

Curious about taking on a few gaming courses of your own? Check out the ESA’s site for the list of colleges that have programs.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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