Video Game Design and Development

Researchers: Jason Leigh

Since 2003, EVL director Jason Leigh has been teaching the UIC undergraduate computer science course #426 (Video Game Design and Development). This course has several unique features. It is simultaneously taught both at UIC and remotely at Louisiana State University (LSU) using high-definition video tele-conferencing over high-speed networks between Chicago and Baton Rouge. It is interdisciplinary, attracting students from a variety of university departments, such as computer science, art, music, and the social sciences, to name a few. The students are organized into decidedly distributed teams, and each team has to design and develop a video game as its class project. The students must use advanced visualization technologies as the platform for game development - and since 2009, Leigh has required his students to develop their video games on EVL’s TacTile. LSU also has a TacTile display. Prior to TacTile, students used EVL’s GeoWall 3D stereoscopic display as their game platform. And, at the end of each semester, experts from video game companies (Electronic Arts, Midway Games, High Voltage Software, etc.) are invited to be part of a panel to judge student projects.

Little do the students realize when they are told to use TacTile is that they are really doing computer science research on graphical user interfaces and human / computer interaction techniques, as no one truly understands how multiple people can (or should) dynamically collaborate on a single program by standing around four sides of a table! Each semester, the students enthusiastically embrace the new technology. “The touch interface is a major change - it’s slowly becoming the new standard, like the iPhone” one student said.

The Princeton Review and GamePro magazine recently rated the best institutions in the USA and Canada where students can study game design. They chose 50 programs based on a 2009-2010 survey of administrators at institutions offering game design coursework and/or degrees. UIC is one of the distinguished institutions that made the overall Top 50 list. Selection criteria for the Undergraduate Game Design Program list included the quality of the curriculum, faculty credentials, facilities and infrastructure as well as data on scholarships, financial aid and career opportunities. The Princeton Review serves as America’s standard for college preparation and admissions advice. Since 1981, it has been ranking colleges by programs, features, and financial aid packages as well as publishing guidebooks to college admissions.

Link to further information at the Princeton Review.


Date: August 16, 2003 - Ongoing
Spring 2010, the game POL won Best Gameplay - L. Long, EVL

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