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* Princeton Review Ranks Rensselaer Among Nation’s Top Schools for Game Design
Image credit: Rensselaer/Ian Stead ’04
Princeton Review Ranks Rensselaer Among Nation’s Top Schools for Game Design
Games used to mean playtime. Not anymore. Today’s video games serve a multitude of functions beyond entertainment including exercise and even education. Now, the Princeton Review is saluting the 50 best undergraduate institutions in the U.S. and Canada to study game design. The publication named eight programs for top honors as the “best of the best,” and Rensselaer came in at number five.

The Princeton Review developed its “Top 50 Undergraduate Game Design Programs” list — the first project of its kind — in partnership with GamePro, a well-known publication in the video game industry, reaching more than three million gamers a month.

The top eight programs on the list in rank order are: University of Southern California, DigiPen Institute of Technology, Drexel University, BeckerCollege, Rensselaer, The Art Institute of Vancouver, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The remaining 42 programs are from 27 states in the U.S.

“We are pleased to have this early recognition of Rensselaer’s efforts to build a premier program in game design,” says Wayne Gray, acting dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and associate dean for graduate studies and research. “Rensselaer’s natural advantages as a premier technological university have enabled us to go very far, very fast.”

“Our program is focused on teaching those who wish to design the current generation of games, as well as those who wish to do the research needed to invent the games and technology for the next generation,” Gray noted. “Imagine immersive, interactive simulations where human players compete against intelligent computer agents in facilities on the scale of Rensselaer’s Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. That is the future, and that is where Rensselaer graduates are headed.”

Launched in fall 2007, Rensselaer’s Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) undergraduate degree continues to prepare students to capitalize on — and successfully navigate — the explosive growth in the continually evolving games phenomenon. Rensselaer’s approach to games studies combines theory and practice, along with a strong emphasis on collaborative, interdisciplinary teamwork. The program is designed to help students to acquire a comprehensive understanding of interactive digital media, a balance of disciplinary competencies, and the mastery of a self-defined set of interrelated disciplinary challenges. Presently, 111 students are enrolled in the program.

Of the roughly 500 programs at which students can study game design in the U.S. and Canada, the Princeton Review selected 50 programs based on a survey it conducted in 2009-10 of administrators at institutions offering game design coursework and/or degrees.

“We are always pleased to get external validation of the outstanding programs we offer at Rensselaer,” said Paul Marthers, vice president for enrollment and dean of undergraduate and graduate admissions. “GSAS continues to be a magnet program attracting excellent students to the Institute.”

“I looked at a lot of different schools for game design,” said Christopher Diorio ’11, a junior majoring in GSAS. “The thing that attracted me to Rensselaer’s program (besides the school itself and the people I’ve met) is the interdisciplinary nature of the program. Most schools only concentrate on programming and implementation of games, and not as much on the actual game design. At Rensselaer, I actually get to work with students from different disciplines and learn many different aspects of game design.”
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 5, March 19, 2010
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