New game development program coming to Brock

Brock University, in collaboration with Niagara College, will soon be introducing a new program in which students will learn to program, design and study video games.

The program — currently being referred to as GAME — will allow students to work towards earning either a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design or a Bachelor of Science in Game Programming from Brock University, while also earning a three-year advanced diploma in Game Development from Niagara College.

The program – developed in collaboration between Brock’s Centre for Digital Humanities, Brock’s Department of Computer Science and Niagara College – received Ministry approval in March of this year. The program announced on their website that they will be taking in their first group of students in September of 2016. Students will study and take courses at both Brock and Niagara, and will have access to the resources of both locations.IASC_Christy04

Brock currently offers several other programs in collaboration with Niagara College, including Journalism and Policing and Criminal Justice. However, these programs involve spending some years specifically at Brock, and others specifically at Niagara College, so students only study at one institution at a time, before then graduating with degrees from both schools. In contrast to this approach, GAME will involve concurrent enrollment in courses at both schools, and students will be fully immersed in both Brock and Niagara at the same time.

“You study at both places at the same time” said program director Dr. Michael Winter. “You have courses at Brock as well as Niagara College during the same terms. You can use the facilities of both places… you’re getting two degrees for the price of one.”

Winter explained that the collaborative nature of the program is one of the things that will set it apart from similar game-related programs currently being offered. Students will be able to combine theory with practice in a program that takes advantage of the different educational approaches and opportunities offered by colleges and universities.

Winter also identified the program’s division into two different streams — a Bachelor of Arts focusing on the design aspect of gaming and a Bachelor of Science focusing on programming and computer science — and the ways that these two streams interact and collaborate as something that makes it a particularly strong and unique program. Winter explained that, while both streams take different classes and develop different skills, they come together for major collaborative project courses in which the streams work together to produce games.

The Centre for Digital Humanities has also been offering a program in Interactive Arts and Science for several years, which has led to student-developed games in the past, such as 2013’s Brock-developed game AWAKEN. Winter explained that the main difference between this program and the new GAME program lies in the focus of the programs.

“The interactive arts and science program is supposed to focus more on all kinds of different media, and how they are influencing society and how they can be used” he said. “Games are one area, but they do all kinds of other things, whereas the GAME program focuses more on games themselves and has more of a production element. It is way more focused.”

Winter said that the focus of the program is not only what distinguishes it from the IASC program, but also what distinguishes it from a lot of other broader based programs offered elsewhere. By focusing specifically on the gaming industry, GAME intends to provide a more focused, directed learning experience for students who are specifically interested in gaming.

More information about the program is available on the program website, brocku.ca/game. For more specific information, Michael Winter can be contacted at mwinter@brocku.ca.

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