The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, the graduate program in game design at the University of Central Florida, has been granted a license from Microsoft to use authentic Xbox development kits in the school's curriculum. According to representatives of the school, it is the first educational institution to use the actual Xbox software development models in a game design program.
The kits, valued at $1 million -- though it's unclear whether the school paid the going rate or if Microsoft discounted or donated the tools for educational purposes -- will first see use in spring 2006 courses such as Visual Development and Software Production. The spring semester will be only the second one for the FIEA, which opened its doors in a newly remodeled building as part of the School of Film & Digital Arts.
"This unique agreement with Microsoft will benefit our students and program," said FIEA Executive Director Ben Noel. "Being able to enter the game industry with experience working on these kits will give our programmers, producers and artists a head start on developing games for the platform when they enter industry."
"In today’s world of multi-platform game production, console development opportunities have been severely limited for students," Microsoft Game Developer Group general manager Chris Satchell. "This unique collaboration between Microsoft and UCF targets changing this and will provide students in the FIEA program with incredibly valuable experience in gaming console development. By giving students access to a contemporary console platform, we hope to energize the next generation of gaming professionals who will go on to create new amazing experiences for consumers."