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OC Named One of The Top Gaming Programs in the U.S.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010   (0 Comments)
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Only School in Oklahoma To Make The List.
 For students interested in a career in video game design, there is only one school in Oklahoma among the top 50 in the country. Oklahoma Christian University was selected as one of the top undergraduate gaming design programs by The Princeton Review and GamePro magazine. The full list is published in both April issues. Approximately 500 game design programs in the United States and Canada were evaluated. "The final choice for the top 50 schools really came down to teaching, curriculum and software,” said faculty member Jeff Price, gaming program advisor in the department of art and design, at Oklahoma Christian. "In designing our program, we reviewed different programs around the country and created ours to be competitive with the top schools in game design. "Those schools are located in gaming hotbeds such as L.A., Orlando and Dallas. There are not a lot of schools in Oklahoma that teach this subject.” Oklahoma Christian’s game design program is overseen by Price, who teaches with adjunct professors Jason Leger and Scott Hale. "We are trying to create something unique in the Midwest,” Price said. "We have access to software that used to be available only at large gaming companies. Now we can teach with tools available for the independent developer. Students don’t have to move to Florida or L.A. anymore.” Another unique aspect of Oklahoma Christian’s program is its faith-based environment, something that sets it apart from many of the schools on the list. "We are especially pleased to have one of the only top-ranked programs in the central United States, and one of the few associated with a strong faith-based university,” said Allison Garrett, vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma Christian. According to Price, this aspect is integrated in the classroom as well. "What separates us from many programs is that we bring ethics, morality and a Christian perspective to an area that has been ‘anything goes,’” he said. "We firmly believe that gaming is a great fit at a Christian university. And really, making this list wouldn’t be possible without the support the university has given the art and design department by investing in the necessary software.” Garrett sees the program as another opportunity to help students achieve success. "We had a strong program already, but since Jeff arrived on our campus and revamped the curriculum, we have worked to give him the tools necessary for his students to excel in game design,” Garrett said. "It is pretty clear from this recognition that the investment is quickly paying off.” The Princeton Review selected the top 50 programs based on a 2009-10 survey it conducted among administrators at institutions offering game design coursework and degrees. The comprehensive survey numbered more than 50 questions and covered areas from academics and faculty credentials to graduates’ employment and career achievements. Criteria included the quality of the curriculum, faculty, facilities and infrastructure. The Princeton Review also looked at data on scholarships, financial aid and career opportunities. According to publisher Robert Franek, the Princeton Review designed the project with assistance from a national advisory board it formed to help design the survey instrument and methodology. Board members included administrators and faculty from respected game design programs, and professionals from some of the top gaming companies. Though Price says making the top 50 list is a nice accomplishment, he wants the program to continue to grow. "I spent a large part of last summer researching the software and programs we needed. We are probably halfway there.” Price encourages students to identify and request new software for the program. He also maintains a game design Web site, www.cgbiglist.com, that contains numerous tips and links to help students be successful. "I really like helping my students,” Price said. "Plus, it’s my goal for us to be named a top eight program."

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