Video Game Development Program Ranked in Princeton Review Top Three
March 2, 2010 Drexel University’s video game design curriculum has been ranked by the Princeton Review as one of the top three undergraduate programs, out of more than 500 schools in the United States and Canada.
The program includes the Drexel Research on Play or “RePlay” Lab, a collaborative effort between the University’s Computer Science department in Drexel Engineering and the Digital Media program in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. RePlay exposes students to game development through research projects and proof-of-concept demonstrations, enabling students to not just learn video game development, but to live it.
The games many of the students are creating are not child’s play. “While our students have created international award-winning entertainment games and won various video game competitions, our strength is in pushing the envelope of gaming interfaces, gameplay concepts, and multi-discipline collaborations,” said Dr. Paul Diefenbach, co-director of the lab and assistant professor of digital media. “We are expanding gaming interfaces through multitouch displays, head and location tracking, and brain interfaces. We are creating gameplay that analyzes and adapts to your music library, and games that mirror genetic evolution. We are designing and building games to train new teachers, help emergency responders, and educate middle school children.”
Diefenbach, with a background in human simulations for NASA, heads gaming research in collaborations across the university including biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, music industry and the School of Education.
“These games will be used in healthcare, psychology and education,” said Dr. Frank Lee, co-director of the RePlay lab and associate professor of computer science. For example, one senior design project involved creating a game for Nintendo Wii for physical therapy. Other projects include creating games for MRI brain scanning.
Lee is also leading an effort to make Philadelphia a global hub for video game development.
“Our students have been playing video games their entire lives,” Lee said. “They know the elements needed to create a successful game and they will be the industry’s next leaders.”
Programs were evaluated on four main criteria including academics (courses and skills fostered), faculty (especially the percentage who had worked in the industry), infrastructure (technology and game laboratories) and career (internships, job placement) according to the Princeton Review.
The top eight programs on The Princeton Review’s “Top 50 Undergraduate Game Design Programs” list (and the only schools ranked on the list) are profiled in the GamePro April issue feature about the list. In rank order, they are: 1/ University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA), 2/ DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA), 3/ Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA), 4/ Becker College (Worcester, MA), 5/ Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY), 6/ The Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, BC (Canada)), 7/ Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA), and 8/ Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA). The remaining programs are from 27 states in the U.S.
The rankings will be published in the April 2010 edition of GamePro magazine.