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Drexel Professor Hopes to Make Philadelphia a Hub for Video Game Development

December 10, 2009

Some of the most popular gift items this holiday season are video games and gaming systems. Video gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry and, if Drexel's Dr. Frank Lee, assistant professor of computer science, has his way, some of that industry will come to Philadelphia, creating jobs for Drexel students and giving a much-needed boost to the local economy.

Lee is a core member of the Videogame Growth Initiative (VGI), a group that brings together video game entrepreneurs and representatives from academia and state and city government in order to boost the Greater Philadelphia region’s emerging video game industry.

“For about the past year, VGI has been working with local elected officials to find ways to bring video game companies to Philadelphia,” said Lee. “VGI serves as an ambassador for these businesses who are looking to possibly relocate or start-up in our area.”

But the games many of the students are creating are not child’s play. “These games will be used in healthcare, psychology and education,” said Lee. For example, one senior design project involved creating a game for Nintendo Wii for physical therapy. Other projects include creating brain-based games for MRI brain scanning.

“Students are also working on a game to help children with autism recognize faces and facial expressions,” said Lee. Trailers and Web sites of some of the students’ work are available on the RePlay Lab Web site http://www.replay.drexel.edu/

One of the appealing factors of coming to the Philadelphia area is the amount of college students available to fill positions in this high-tech industry.

“With most universities, an internship lasts a few months over the summer and by the time the students are trained for the job, it is time for them to go back to school,” said Lee. “However, Drexel students have six months to a year on co-op, which can be beneficial to a new or expanding company.”

Known as co-op, Drexel’s cooperative education program gives students real-world experience by placing them in professional positions with employers in their field of study.

“Our students have been playing video games their entire lives,” said Lee. “They know the elements needed to create a successful game and they will be the industry’s next leaders. Having some gaming representation will make it easier for Drexel students to continue their groundbreaking work.”

To view examples of the games, visit: http://www.replay.drexel.edu

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News Media Contact:

Noah Cohen, Office of University Relations 215-895-2705, 267-228-5599 (cell) or noah.cohen@drexel.edu

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