The university’s concentration in game design and development creates multidisciplinary opportunities

Led by Mehdi Mekni, Ph.D., an avid gamer with a personal and professional interest and background in game design and development, the new concentration brings together students from various specializations, allowing them to collaborate to create their own game. video.

November 18, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

The University offers a new concentration of game design and development.

When Emiliano Vega ’23 was in high school, he did an internship at IBM which helped spark his interest in game development. He had the opportunity to learn Python and write a program for a game, and he plans to turn his passion for the game into a career.

Now a computer science student at the University, Vega is pursuing a concentration in game design and development. This is a new program at the University – the first two courses offered this fall have quickly filled up – that informs, challenges and trains students like Vega to enter a technological field where technology is constantly changing. evolution.

Vega is currently following “Introduction to Game Development”, taught by Mehdi Mekni, Ph.D., the program coordinator.

“In Dr. Mekni’s class, I learned the game development process,” Vega said. “I love the work that has been entrusted to me and Dr Mekni gives excellent comments. ”

“The goal is for the students to have a sufficiently mature prototype… that they can present”

Associate Professor of Computing and Cybersecurity, Dr Mekni wants the University to be a kind of “one-stop-shop” for students interested in computing. He wants to make sure they find exactly what they’re looking for and that this concentration will provide another exciting option at the University – as well as programs like cybersecurity, computer engineering, and data science – for them. students.

An avid gamer in his own right, Dr. Mekni has a personal and professional interest in game design and development. His research and doctoral thesis focused on virtual environments and the interaction of actors within them, such as creating a virtual simulation of an evacuation to determine how long it will take. His professional experience also includes working for Ubisoft, a game design and development company.

“I got paid to do something I love,” he said. “I made games and I love games. I wanted the focus on game design and development to provide a path for students to do the same.

The Bachelor of Computer Science program with a concentration in Game Design and Development is nationally accredited by the Computer Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Council for Engineering and Technology (CAC / ABET). It prepares students to become game designers and developers.

As part of the program, students will take courses such as “Extended Reality for Games”, “Applied Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Games” and “3D Modeling and Rendering”. They will complete an internship and collaborate with their classmates to create their own game, define the genre, create graphics and develop the story of the game.

“The goal is for students to have a prototype game that is mature enough for their portfolio that they can present to businesses and potential employers,” said Dr Mekni.

Image by Mehdi Menki, Ph.D.
Mehdi Mekni, Ph.D., is an avid gamer with a background in game design and development.
“Everyone can have a place in my class”

The concentration aims to provide students with a hands-on experience that will prepare them to apply for positions in game production or development companies around the world and to develop the knowledge and expertise to be able to create their own path. They will acquire an entrepreneurial spirit, preparing them to create their own games as independent developers.

A key element of concentration is that it is multidisciplinary. While offered as part of the Computer Science major, it is designed to include students of all majors and skill levels. “Introduction to Game Development,” a 200-level course, requires no computer training and covers the history of the game.

“I want students to know that anyone can have a place in my class,” said Dr Mekni. “The course will teach students the types of roles that a game development team needs to be successful. They need three things: art, science, and technology, and they need business knowledge. “

Students in fields such as computer science manipulate the mechanics of the game, for example. Games also need music, scenery, and avatar design, and some games require knowledge of history. Step into the majors of music, art and history. Business students come in to help with licensing, marketing, and making sure the game is profitable.

“Marketing actually plays an important role in the development of the game”

Luca Pietrangeli ’22, a marketer, follows “Introduction to Game Development”. His career goal is to own a business, and he once started a sustainable coffee business called Moose Coffee Co. An avid gamer, he was always interested in learning more about game design, and he took the course. to explore it further. He particularly appreciated the creative opportunities offered by the course.

“Marketing actually plays a big role in game development because it’s the primary way people will view your game,” he said. “This is how you learn more about the game, how you see the gameplay in it, and how you make money. All the concepts we learn in marketing are applied here, from social media marketing to target audiences and Demographics The class helps me look at my own business from different angles, and I could go through the game design process and apply it to my own business.

“I learned to take an idea for a game and to bring it to life”

Dr Mekni’s goal is to eventually develop a joint game design and development program involving BS and BA degrees to support students of the arts as well as science, technology and business – and provide them with opportunities. collaboration. It hopes to bring together students and faculty from various disciplines, and create exciting and practical opportunities for all students who want to learn more or pursue a career in gaming.

Vega, the computer science major, aspires to work as a front-end developer and he is considering mobile development paths. He is already convinced that he will be ready to excel.

“I learned to take an idea for a game and bring it to life,” he said. “This concentration will help me by teaching me to create web and mobile games.

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