Wednesday, July 10, 2024

New undergraduate program geared toward gamers to debut at UTSA this fall

New undergraduate program geared toward gamers to debut at UTSA this fall

JULY 10, 2024 — Students with a love for video games will have a chance to turn their hobby into an exciting career with the help of a new program later this year. A new Game Design program, to be housed in the UTSA University College, will offer its first classes in Fall 2024.

Game design is a new concentration within the multidisciplinary studies (MDST) bachelor’s degree programs. It will join about a dozen other prescribed degree tracks already available under the MDST umbrella.

The program will take a cross-disciplinary approach to game design and will include three distinct focus areas: game programming, digital art, and media and game studies.

UTSA students will complete a wide variety of coursework offered by the university’s College of Sciences (COS) and College of Liberal and Fine Arts (COLFA), gaining a strong foundation in computer science fundamentals and in art, design and communications principles. They will learn various programming languages like C# and Python while becoming proficient in creative software used by the gaming industry for 3D modeling and animation. This comprehensive curriculum will prime students to enter the state’s growing gaming sector.

In 2022, the Texas video game industry had an economic impact of $5.5 billion and was comprised of over 190 companies, including regional offices for notable names like Activision, Blizzard Games and Electronic Arts.

In addition to the existing COS and COLFA courses that are incorporated into the program’s curriculum, UTSA faculty developed several new courses for the launch of the new Game Design track. Fundamentals of Game Programming and Game Studies will be offered this fall, and three additional courses — Gamification and Global Gaming Industries, User Experience Design, and Global and Intercultural Gaming — are set to debut in Fall 2025. The courses will explore topics such as the history of the video game industry at home and abroad, the effects of gameplay on users, and how different cultural contexts can shape the game design process.

Samuel Ang, assistant professor of instruction in the UTSA Department of Computer Science, is one of the program’s core faculty members and will teach the Fundamentals of Game Programming course, which he designed. Ang has extensive experience in programming for gaming and conducts research in related fields including human-computer interaction, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Ang’s new course will guide students — including those without prior programming experience — through the process of building games from scratch. It incorporates essential programming concepts, including using physics simulations to mimic realistic movement, utilizing procedural generation to create objects and landscapes and rendering 2D and 3D graphics.

“I’m a strong believer in hands-on learning, and I structure my classes so that students have an opportunity to put together a portfolio of projects during their time here,” Ang said. “I believe this approach will best prepare students for a fast growing and highly competitive industry.”

By the end of Ang’s course, students will see the concepts they learned in class come to life as they recreate classic arcade games, like Pong and Space Invaders, and design their own original interactive game.

Upon graduating from the Game Design program, students will have a portfolio of tangible projects in hand, a well-rounded understanding of the gaming industry, and will be equipped to enter a wide range of careers like design, animation, writing, producing, or user experience and interface design. Their skillsets can also extend to industries outside of traditional gaming, such as mobile gaming, educational software and interactive media.

Students in UTSA’s gaming and esports club, Roadrunner Gaming, are looking forward to taking courses in the new discipline and getting a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making some of their favorite games.

“There wouldn’t be esports without the dedication and creativity of game designers,” said Jacques Ballou, a junior cyber security major and Roadrunner Gaming president. “Many members of Roadrunner Gaming, including those currently studying computer science with an interest in game design, are excited about this new program.”

Learn more about the flexible degree plans available in the Multidisciplinary Studies program.
Discover more programs offered by UTSA University College.

The MDST degree at UTSA acts as an incubator for new and innovative academic programs based on student interest, industry trends and workforce needs. MDST currently includes several niche programs that follow prescribed tracks, or students can design their own unique degree plan by combining three academic areas that align with their interests and goals.

In addition to undergraduate MDST degrees, the University College offers an M.S. in Artificial Intelligence, an M.A./M.S. in Multidisciplinary Studies, a Ph.D. in Translational Science, and several certificate programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The college also offers the nation’s first known M.D./M.S. in Artificial Intelligence, and awarded degrees to the first graduates of the program in Spring 2024.

The University College promotes an interdisciplinary approach to education and offers students lifelong tools for academic inquiry, advancement and leadership. Its programs also include the Academic Introduction and Strategies program, the Writing Program, the Air Force and Army ROTC programs, and the Dual Credit program.

Chloe Johnson

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