In what must be a surprising turn to many academics, the study of computer gaming is quickly becoming a legitimate vocation, with courses being taught in colleges and universities worldwide, reports The Washington Post.
Along with community colleges, universities such as Carnegie Mellon and the University of Southern California offer courses and degree programs in computer gaming.
"This began to build about five years ago," explains Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, a Washington-based trade group. "We started to see some universities dedicate programs to people seeking careers in the industry." For today's students, who have "grown up with video games as a core part of their diet," Lowenstein says, "the opportunity to enter careers in the video game industry is as, if not more, attractive than the film sector."
Courses in computer gaming are rigorous and take teamwork and discipline. The games utilize interactive and simulation techniques and require skills from such fields as medicine, military training, education and even dispute resolution. Government and private industry are the major consumers.
The student demographic is mostly male and come from modest means. Rick Jelly, who at age 40 has just earned his certificate in electronic imaging at Montgomery College, had this to say on his blog about his new career:
"Quite a few of us 40-plus age group are into the classic-style games, rather than the multi-level massive RPGs [role-playing games] and some very extensive adventure games. What's next? Endless possibilities. All of a sudden, life is here."