Video games in Academia

NYT reports on the growth of courses and programs on video games in academia

Three decades after bursting into pool halls and living rooms, video games are taking a place in academia. A handful of relatively obscure vocational schools have long taught basic game programming. But in the last few years a small but growing cadre of well-known universities, from the University of Southern California to the University of Central Florida, have started formal programs in game design and the academic study of video games as a slice of contemporary culture.

Traditionalists in both education and the video game industry pooh-pooh the trend, calling it a bald bid by colleges to cash in on a fad. But others believe that video games – which already rival movie tickets in sales – are poised to become one of the dominant media of the new century.

Certainly, the burgeoning game industry is famished for new talent. And now, universities are stocked with both students and young faculty members who grew up with joystick in hand. And some educators say that studying games will soon seem no less fanciful than going to film school or examining the cultural impact of television.

Video games do offer one very attractive technology in addition to some mentioned in the article. The interfaces used in video games are very immersive kind and are the best example of experiential environments. These interfaces are learnt effortlessly by people from extremely disparate backgrounds. These interfaces can teach many things to designers. Particularly with the popularity of mobile phones as primary clients for internet access, the role of these interfaces will become increasingly important. When a grandmother living in a remote village in India wants to connect with the her grandchildren in USA using Internet, the interfaces better be in the same class — if not better — than those used in video games. They should be easy to use and fun to interact. And yes, there will be NO Keyboard use at all. I hope that that trensd is emphasized in some of these courses.

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