I’ve taught a number of different game design courses over the years, a few of my favorites include: Introductory Game Design, Advanced Game Design and Development, Level Design, Building Virtual Worlds, and our Game Development Capstone. Most of these courses involved a cohort of students across their final two years in college. This provided a great opportunity for mentorship and cultivating talent over time.
Our focus in a majority of these courses was to create finished products. Using the Unity3D engine, our students worked in groups and rapidly prototyped and developed over 7 finished games by the time of their graduation. With a fail fast mentality, students were encouraged to try crazy ideas and focus on core mechanics and affective goals. If the concepts didn’t work, that was okay and we could learn from our mistakes in the next game.
Alongside the program director Brian M. Winn, I helped create a curriculum and course structure to better prepare our students for the game industry. Much like game design itself, this was an iterative process that continued to change and improve each semester. My latest course focused on pre-production and rapid prototyping, in an effort to create a number of small, awesome game prototypes that are ideal for continued development.
During my involvement in the Game Design Minor, the program has been ranked #10 or better by the Princeton Review for Best Game Design Undergraduate Program. We are currently ranked #7 in the nation! One of our main missions was to create a curriculum and pipeline that encouraged conference worthy games to compete with other top schools in the nation. We carefully structured our courses to give students the time and experience necessary to do so.
With all of these great student games and projects, we also needed a public-facing place for them to live. Great games aren’t of much use if no one knows they exist! I helped create a new website for our Game Minor ( http://gamedev.msu.edu ) that was a one-stop shop for information on our program, as well as a currated list of games created over the years. With the success of this model, I also helped create and cultivated a similar website for the GEL Lab ( http://gel.msu.edu ).
One of my other hats as an Academic Specialist was Curriculum Director for our MSU Media Summer Camps. These middle and high school camps focused on teaching game design and development to young kids using an adapted version of our college curriculum. They were given a crash course in game development, along with mentoring, and access to labs with equipment used in the game industry. Many of these students have returned to MSU in later years to join the game development minor!