Semester 1 2012 marks the debut of Macquarie University's new programs focussed on the design, development and critical analysis of video games. For the first time the university will offer "Interactivity and Games" as a major for students studying for a Bachelor of Arts, and the Department of Computing has debuted a games-focussed degree — Bachelor of Information Technology - Games Design and Development.
"We knew that there was a high demand from students to learn about video gaming but the level of interest has exceeded even our expectations," said Dr Rowan Tulloch, a lecturer in with the Department of Music, Media, Communication and Cultural Studies, which will offer the major in interactivity and games.
Although it is the first year the major has been offered, so there are as yet no figures on the number of students who will pursue it, Tulloch said there had been a lot of interest in it and games-focused units expressed by students during enrolment and orientation at Macquarie University.
"We're very gratified by the response we got for these new programs," Tulloch told Techworld Australia. "We've got a great group of talented and enthusiastic students just about to start and we're expecting big things from them."
Interest in the major and the computer science department's new degree "reflects the growing importance of video gaming as an entertainment medium".
"I think people are actually starting to do some really interesting things [in gaming]," Tulloch said. "Within indie gaming and even to a certain extent within mainstream AAA titles, more interesting stuff is being done and people are starting to recognise how creative you can be. The other thing is that gaming is becoming massively more mainstream, so it's really started to saturate mainstream culture."
One focus of the courses is preparing students for dealing with the Australian gaming environment. "We're not a country with huge amounts of government support for the games industry — though that may be changing — but we've had some very successful indie developers like Halfbrick [developer of Fruit Ninja]. So within our gaming programs we're looking at those areas of growth; so independent gaming, mobile gaming and other new forms of gaming where people can be very successful without needing massive teams behind them."
In addition to game development, the programs will help students get into other industries such as games journalism, PR and advertising.
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