Saturday, November 18, 2006

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Ain't technology wonderful? — college version

The University of Southern California has a new degree program. Students there can now major in "interactive entertainment", and other universities, including Carnegie-Mellon University, Southern Methodist University, and Georgia Tech, have already done the same. One thing that's interesting here, though, is that it's not a branch of computer programming, but is in the liberal arts program.

What makes that interesting is that the focus is not on the technology of the games, but on the games as an art form. The program is offered through the School of Cinematic Arts, and in reference to whether video games are "art":

[...] associate professor Tracy Fullerton looks back to 1929, when USC founded the first film school in the country. At the time, no one thought movies were serious art. "And now, of course, we recognise it as a powerful art form from the past century. I think we're looking at games and interactive entertainment and seeing that these can be the most powerful medium for the coming century."

And indeed, for a while now games have been released alongside movies, to co-market each other. Just take a look at the Internet Movie Database and see how often actors appear in movies and their corresponding video games (examples: each of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the rings" movies has a corresponding video game).

But beyond that, looking at the games as art, and putting in an academic environment, rather than a commercial one, encourages the development of games outside the commercial norm, and, in particular, departing from some of the violence of the commercial games:

It's about creating a game experience that is not typically aggressive and competitive.

Technology continues to change the world. It'll be interesting to see where degree programs such as this — and the graduates of them — go over time.

2 comments:

Marty Adams said...

You should check out the Serious Games Initiative.

There is a growing number of people interested in using some of the positive things surrounding games for some good purpose - training, education, even social change -(darfurisdying, foodforce).

Dr. Momentum said...

A game is another form of art or communication. There is a lot of power to be harnessed there.

Games are microcosms, and can also be teaching models.

Some of our math ed research is game-like, although our simulations would never be confused with an actual videogame.

But we have considered handheld games for teaching calculus concepts of variation and accumulation.