USC Viterbi School of Engineering announced that it has introduced two new game-related degrees, and its computer science department is the first to offer both a BS(Games)and MS(Game Development) within the specialized programs.
Dean Yannis Yortsos commented: "These are timely specializations in important areas, including the growing field of serious games. We have been very pleased with the reception we have received so far."
Computer Science Department Chair Gerard Medioni explained the background. "Beyond their creative element, computer games offer a major challenge in bringing together numerous core areas of advanced computer science, including artificial intelligence, graphical interfaces, modeling, algorithm design, and of course programming," he said. "These programs are good academics."
Medioni worked for more than a year to shepherd the new degrees through USC curriculum committees and on to final approval by USC Provost C.L. Max Nikias.
"Education curricula increasingly exist in academia in the dramatic and artistic aspects of games, but remain extremely scarce for the nuts-and-bolts coding that make games work," said Medioni. "We know we have students who want such skills, and we know that a $45-billion industry is also looking for the same."
The new courses are meant to added the rapid growth of the video game industry, within which by 2007 the number of employees is expected to double, with roughly the following demand: 65 percent programmers, 30 percent artists, and 5 percent designers. "Our new B.S. and M.S. programs will speak precisely to these needs," noted Mike Zyda, director of the Viterbi School's GamePipe Laboratory.
Zyda is the author of an article, "Educating the Next Generation of Game Developers”, in the current (June) issue of IEEE Computer Science, which details the lessons learned in GamePipe's recent experience offering computer science-oriented courses in computer gaming.
"Because USC places such emphasis on multidisciplinary cooperation, it is the ideal place to pioneer such degrees," noted Yortsos. "I look forward to the first commencement when we will hand the first CS (Games) graduates their diplomas."