Where Zombies and Higher Education Meet

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Screen shot of typical computer game environment created by students.
Manchester, CT – (December 5, 2012) . . . How well do basketball and zombies fit together in your mind? Does your left brain talk much to your right brain? Do you believe that some of the world’s most important ideas occurred to their originators while they were at play?

The answers to these questions might tell you whether you are the kind of person who would happily dive into one of the newest degree programs at Manchester Community College: Computer Game Design.

The first program of its kind at a state community college and one of the few in Connecticut, MCC’s computer game design associate degree program is a happy combination of graphic arts, web design, 3D animation and computer science.

The brainchild of Edward Hogan, MCC’s longtime head of multi-media studies, the program prepares students to enter the multi-billion dollar computer- and video-game industry or to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science or design.

Because creativity thrives best in a relaxed environment, computer game design is intended to be both intellectually challenging and fun. An artist himself by temperament and training, Hogan’s office – festooned with posters and superhero figurines -- is an outward expression of the kind of intense but playful atmosphere he tries to create for his students.

Computer game design is not, he points out, a frivolous pursuit for college study. Hogan observes that the skills and creativity cultivated in his new program are “the tip of a certain kind of iceberg” comprising a huge and growing industry of computer graphics, software design, animation, video and audio craft and related work.

Underlying it all is an effort to encourage and stimulate creative thought, then couple it with left-brain competencies in computer programming, he says.

“The influential American graphic designer Milton Glazer published a book a few years ago entitled ‘Art is Work’ a perception that I agree with,” Hogan says. “To extend the notion to the world of games, I think that we can say that ‘Fun is Work’ also.”

In its own right, the entertainment software industry is estimated to be a $25 billion enterprise (think Pixar, for example) and, according to the Entertainment Software Association, “directly and indirectly employs more than 120,000 people in 34 states.” The industry is growing rapidly and, according to the ESA, employs about 7,000 people in Connecticut and Massachusetts combined.

Those jobs, of course, are only a portion of the potential applications of video, audio, programming, design and animation skills cultivated in the computer game design program.

Hogan said David Calabrese, an artist and experienced instructor of both traditional media and digital media, will be joining the faculty full time to teach illustration and game design with Flash. The department also has a number of adjunct faculty members with similar backgrounds in computer design and science.

Students begin their 64-credit course of study with an introduction to computer game theory, history, the technologies involved and an analysis of the use of games in different fields including education, commerce and recreation.

Students then move on to making up their own games using state-of-the-art software.

“I’m proud to say that the content we teach is what employers want,” Hogan said. Students are exposed to programs such as Flash, Photoshop and Lightwave, the software used to make special effects in television shows such as “The Walking Dead.”

This study is in parallel with computer science classes in programming logic and design in the C++ programming language. The students do much of their work in the school’s computer lab equipped with Apple computers.

Of course game design, like any artistic endeavor, requires a grounding in art, art history and literature, so students choosing the computer game design program can expect to begin with study in those traditional fields as they also begin learning computer graphics, animation and programming logic.

Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and “real world” credentials. The college offers over 60 programs, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. MCC is situated on a park-like campus and is easily accessible from I-84.

Computer Game Design Program Information

News Item Posted On: December 05, 2012
For Additional Information Contact: Bonnie Willgoos at 860-512-2928