Students Get Look Inside Video Gaming Industry
BATON ROUGE – Recently, high school students studying video game design at LSU had the opportunity to show off their game design skills to professional staff of one of the giants of the video game industry. Electronic Arts’ North American Testing Center, or EA NATC, offered a guided tour of their new facility on the LSU campus to students taking “Video Game Design,” a one-week course offered by LSU Continuing Education’s Pre-college Programs.
During the course, the teens customized the classic game “Breakout,” experimenting with tempo, sounds, music and visual styles. After the tour, students demonstrated their games for EA NATC recruiter Patrick Lamont, quality assurance project leader Kirk Nedreberg and training program manager Sarah Chavez.
One student mentioned that he hadn’t had time to work out a flaw before they left for the tour.
“The first lesson of making video games: if you wonder why a game doesn’t have a feature, it’s probably because they didn’t have time to put it in before it shipped,” Lamont responded.
Lamont later gave the students practical advice for working in the video game industry.
“I’ve been a recruiter for EA for seven years,” he said, “and technical artist is the hardest job to fill.”
Nedreberg went on to explain that students need solid technical skills to back up their ideas.
“You have to think with both sides of your brain, and not many people can do that,” said he said.
The students worked independently on their projects during the course, but professional game design involves teams – coders, designers, writers and compliance specialists who collaborate on a game before it is released.
“You have to learn teamwork, or it’s never going to work,” Lamont said.
Nedreberg gave the students advice for when they’re absorbed in their work.
“When you’re developing a game, every once in a while you want to step back and ask yourself, ‘Why is this fun? Why would anyone want to play this?’,” he said.
After the tour and discussion, one student, Syed Ahmed of Glasgow Middle School, noted that the experience may help him choose his college major.
“I’ve been trying to decide between engineering and computer science,” he said. “After [the demonstration], I’m leaning toward computer science.”
Video game design is one of Pre-college Programs’ most popular courses.
“This is the second year the course has been offered and it always fills up fast,” said program coordinator Kandie Saucier. “This is actually the first group of high school students that has been allowed to tour the new testing facility. EA is great to work with.”
“Video Game Design” is offered by LSU Continuing Education as part of Tiger U, a series of summer courses and camps open to students entering grades 9-12. Students learn about many aspects of video game development: design, animation, the popular development tool “Unity,” and programming language C#. The course is offered in cooperation with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, a school that trains professionals in game design and film animation. For more information, visit the Pre-college Programs website at http://www.outreach.lsu.edu/cms/PreK12/TigerUniversity.aspx.
LSU Continuing Education acts as a leading university provider of educational outreach and engagement to help people achieve their goals and improve their quality of life, their organizations and their communities. Visit www.outreach.lsu.edu for more information. Follow LSU Continuing Education on Twitter @LSUCE.
EA is the second largest video game publisher in the world. NATC tests EA titles on all gaming platforms to ensure quality and compatibility. Among EA’s most popular titles are “Madden NFL” and “The Sims.”
AIE is an Australia based design college with U.S. campuses in Seattle and Lafayette, La. It emphasizes hands on vocational training for careers in video game design and film.
LSU Continuing Education