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Princeton Review Honors Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences Program

Rensselaer’s Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) program has been named among the top 15 out of 150 undergraduate game design programs in the United States and Canada, according to a new survey from the Princeton Review. The Princeton Review developed its “Top Schools for Video Game Design Study" list in partnership with GamePro magazine, one of the most respected names in the video game industry.

The ranking acknowledges the importance of one of the newest programs at Rensselaer. GSAS was launched in the fall of 2007, and the program will graduate its first full class in May.

“We are pleased to have the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program recognized,” said Prabhat Hajela, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education. “As a premier technological university, Rensselaer is committed to combining an unparalleled technical education with the creative thought process that fuels games and simulation arts.”

The program offers a comprehensive understanding of interactive digital media, a balance of disciplinary competencies, and the mastery of a self-defined set of interrelated disciplinary challenges. Within the program, students gain an understanding of games from the broadest range of possible perspectives and play an active role in research and education in disciplines including the visual and aural aspects of new media in the electronic arts, cognition and artificial intelligence in cognitive science, digital graphics and software development in computer science, experimental game design in psychology, and human computer interaction and computer graphics in communication and the arts.

Lee Sheldon, program co-director, noted that the interactive technology taught and developed in the GSAS program extends far beyond traditional gaming. Students in the GSAS program may pursue “serious games” — games as teaching tools, in scientific research, therapy, and defense, to name just a few of the practical applications of games and simulation arts.

“The world of video games is exploding, broadening its reach in every direction,” said Sheldon, an associate professor of language, literature, and communication. “Gone are the days when first-person shooters costing tens of millions of dollars dominated the marketplace. Thanks to the Nintendo Wii and other casual and social game platforms such as the iPhone and Facebook, we’re seeing a rebirth of the game industry where small teams can create games that attract million of players from 6 to 60. Serious or ‘applied’ games are a huge growth industry for research, education, and the corporate community. Games have permeated every aspect of our lives from the classroom to the grocery store. And Rensselaer is proud to be a leader in educating the game makers of tomorrow.”

Benjamin Chang, program co-director, said the rapid growth of the program at Rensselaer “reflects the expanding range of possibilities for games as a social space, a communication medium, and an artistic form.

“Rensselaer’s students are at the cutting edge of the field, from mobile and social games to immersive simulations in virtual and augmented reality,” said Chang, an associate professor of arts. “Students studying games are artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs, who will both create the next generation of games and continue to revolutionize our idea of what games can be.”

Compiled by the Princeton Review, the list, “Top Schools for Video Game Design Study for 2011,” salutes 30 institutions in all (15 undergraduate and 15 graduate) for their outstanding game design education programs.

The list for 2011 names 10 undergraduate and 10 graduate schools in ranked order 1 to 10, and recognizes the schools ranked 10 to 15 in each category with an Honorable Mention. As one of the top 15 schools, Rensselaer was recognized with an Honorable Mention.

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey of administrators at 150 institutions offering video game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States and Canada.

Reported in the April GamePro magazine, the list is also accessible online at www.princetonreview.com/game-design.aspx and at www.gamepro.com/article/features/218324/the-princeton-reviews-top-10-grad-undergrad-game-design-schools/.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 4, March 18, 2011
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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