MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University has one of the “Top 50 Undergraduate Game Design Programs,” according to a first-of-its-kind ranking by The Princeton Review, an education services and test preparation company, and GamePro magazine. This achievement comes despite the fact NMU does not yet offer an academic major or minor in video game design. But faculty from two departments that teach related courses and technologies are pleasantly surprised by the news. “I must assume that our ranking stems mostly from our strong programs in computer science and art and design, both of which are essential to the top institutions in the ranking,” said NMU computer science professor Jeff Horn. “In our department, we have incorporated 3D game engine programming into several upper division courses, including three special topics classes on game programming itself.” Art and design teaches 3D modeling and animation using professional software and hardware typically found at leading production companies. Horn said they have been experimenting recently with courses that bring students from both departments together, including a team-based game design course and a course on flash programming. Stephan Larson, an art and design professor, said his department emphasizes adaptability and encourages students to have varied interests and skills. “We have had graduates successfully go into the game design field simply because they could adapt to the situation in the technical aspects and in the overall approach to game design,” said Larson. “I think it speaks highly of our electronic imaging program that students are so technically proficient while maintaining design savvy; that they can be flexible enough to learn new technologies and fit into a design pipeline. Our focus is on making our students a success rather than how the rest of the nation perceives the program. But it is nice to be noticed.” The list will be posted on The Princeton Review and GamePro Web sites and published in the April 2010 issue of GamePro magazine.
March 11, 2010