New major in Interactive Media and Game Development


This fall ushers in a new Interactive Media and Game Development (IMGD) major in the College of Arts and Sciences at Suffolk University. The gaming industry major, proposed by faculty members from Computer Science, New England School of Art & Design (NESAD), and Communications and Journalism (CJN), adds variety to the University’s curriculum while also allowing the University to compete with similar programs in other schools.


“Massachusetts, and the Boston area in particular, is one of the top hubs for video game development,” says CJN associate professor Nina Huntemann. “(Gaming) is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the media industry” and it is “flourishing, not diminishing,” unlike the movie and music industries. Suffolk University has an advantage over other schools advertising video game development majors, says Huntemann, because “(Those schools) do not have the kind of art department that we do here at NESAD.”


The Bachelor of Science major includes courses in video game design as well as programming, and requires a concentration in one of the two areas. Also available is a minor option for interested students who do not wish to pursue a career in video game development.


All IMGD tracks give students the opportunity to showcase their individual talents while working communally. “Developing a typical video game requires close cooperation between creative writers, game designers, programmers, artists, and composers,” noted professors Dan Stefanescu, Dimitry Zinoviev, Jennifer Fuchel, and Huntemann in their proposal for the new major. "The program emphasizes synergistic education where students each bring their unique strengths to the project."


Fuchel, associate professor of graphic design at NESAD, says that because the IMGD program requires students to take classes across multiple disciplines, it prepares them for careers in the diverse world of game creation. For example, Digital Games Culture—a CJN course—delves into the interpersonal aspects of game development, while Intro to Game Programming—a Computer Science course—highlights the technical aspect of game development, introduces students to Game Maker software, and encourages creativity. Huntemann notes that students will also gain knowledge beyond programming and design as they explore humanities subjects that relate to gaming as well: “games as a social and cultural phenomenon,” “the concept of the self,” and “property ownership” are just a few concepts she cites will be taught in upper-level courses.


The major is designed, but not required, to integrate seamlessly with a second major in Computer Science. Its description cites a variety of career options, including “game-play tester, 2D conceptual artist, 3D character builder, 3D object modeler, interactivity designer, background artist, and game programmer.”


“It’s a great major to go into,” Fuchel says. She quotes Dan Stefanescu, director of the IMGD program, coming to her with the foresight that “there will be major growth in the gaming industry in the next 30 years.”


Freshman student Ben Macalister, a Game Design major and Computer Science minor at Suffolk is currently enrolled in Intro to Game Programming. “It’s fun,” he says. “I don’t know anything about programming, but the software is easy enough to understand.” He also recommends the major for incoming students who may be considering it.


For more information about the IMGD program at Suffolk, contact Dmitry Zinoviev, Jennifer FuchelNina Huntemann, or Dan Stefanescu.


By Tiffany Hassin

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