Students need to be prepared for a rapidly changing industry. When student arms themselves with the theory and ability to adapt to new tools they can succeed where others will stumble. At the University of Connecticut, I am concentrating on the development of the Digital Media and Design Game Design concentration curriculum from the ground up. Game Design is a very new field, with most game design schools and majors opening their doors within the last ten years. My focus is to create effective instructional material that gives students a broad understanding of how to develop games while fostering student creativity to compete in a changing industry.
Game Development learning occurs through the development of games through fast iteration and through consistent work critique by peers and consumers. Through personal relationships and tactful critiques, I make it clear that their success widely rests on the student’s shoulders. I implement the majority of my courses through group work and experiential learning. Students engage in hands-on classroom learning and are expected to ask questions and work on problems in real time. In the classroom, I guide my students through breaking down problems and creating solutions.
One of the most valuable skills is to be flexible with what technologies you use to implement a game design. For instance, I expose students to multiple toolsets including pen and paper, board games, C++, and other less traditional toolsets like twitter. Students also engage in class group discussions, which not only fosters the critical evaluation of games but also nurtures communication and friendship between students. Finally, students must develop projects in a public setting using online forums to get real-time feedback from other developers.
My goal is to empower every student to be a maker. Games are a huge field and they are utilized for many different purposes. Part of my job is to draw out students strengths so that they can make work that can impact their own communities and serve their own interests. Student creativity is one of the most valuable elements within a games program. Ideally, every student that works through my courses should be able to make a game that contributes to the overall discussion about the place of games in the world.
Most importantly my job is to adapt to the students. Not every person communicates or absorbs information in the same way. I have learned this over many years developing projects with programmers, artists, and executives. Our job is to get that information across through any means necessary whether we use targeted readings or a pantomime performance. My passion is reaching out to expand someone’s mind to give them a better perspective and I share a little bit of myself each time I am successful.
Not only do I teach but I work with students in other capacitiies!
Pre-College Summer Program- Game Design
Game development is a challenging field, and here at the University of Connecticut’s Digital Media and Design program, we take a hands-on approach. Aspiring developers at any experience level with the desire to create games are welcome to join us as we develop a game from scratch using an optimized off-the-shelf 2D game development and visual programming tool called Construct3, as well as other free and industry standard tools such as photoshop, and audacity. No experience necessary.
Throughout the weeklong course, we will use college-level assignments to cover the basics of game development creating artwork, audio, code, and most importantly an attitude of “I can do that.” Students should come away with the ability to create a game and understand more completely what the video game industry is like and what jobs are out there. Work with Ken, 8-year game industry before coming to the University of Connecticut to develop the Game Design concentration. His responsibilities included directing game projects from start to finish, programming unique scenarios using game development tools, and working with publishers such as SEGA, Electronic Arts, and Activision. He has worked with Blockbuster franchises such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, Madagascar, Shrek, and over a dozen others. His work in the video game industry has received Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Award for best video game, Indie Game of the Year, and Innovation Awards from industry publications. He works with students on creating engaging gameplay experiences and pushing the boundaries of play.
This student club is focused on competitive e-Sports and gaming. Over the last three years UConn has had teams from the Gaming club enter into e-Sports competitions including CS: GO, League of Legends, and Heroes of the Storm. In each of these cases the teams have made it to the semi-finals; in the case of Heroes of the Storm, their competition was broadcast live on ESPN.
Game Development Club
The Game Development club is a development club with an enrollment of approximately 15 students across campus. They create games, invite speakers, and implement the global game jam each year on campus.