Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fun and games

The actual title of the Advocate article is "Not all fun and games" but what fun is that? I'm afraid that characterization derives from a teacher making the nervous mistake of apologizing for his student's enjoying learning when it would be more appropriate to apologize for the prevalence of the everyday, normal, industrious, and boring class the guest probably expects.

The class in question is at ULL and the embarrassingly fun subject matter is video games. The story covers the relatively new video game concentration housed in the department of computer science. The article's core description:

The video-game concentration, first offered last year, has quickly gained in popularity and has about 40 majors, Etheredge said. “It’s attracting a lot of students,” he said. “It’s one of the few things that get students excited about college.”

Those who choose to pursue the program are required to take a broad range of classes: a foundation of computer science and math courses plus a video-game specific curriculum that includes electives in computer animation, creative writing, artificial intelligence, camera production and theater.

“Games bring together all of those,” said Timothy Roden, who teaches a class in three-dimensional game design
That sort of interdisciplinary work that leads to the "making" of real, even when virtual, things is the most exciting learning environments available at any university--and is the sort of experience that most students don't get a crack at until graduate school.

Lafayette is lucky to have a program like this available. Gaming, with its bandwidth expensive underactivity and graphics is one the drivers behind the demand for fiber-optic networks. With the promised 100 megs of insystem connectivity (all subscribers will be allowed to connect to each other at the full available capacity of the system) Lafayette will be a great place for new games to be developed and tested.

3 comments:

Nick Istre said...

It's unfortunate that I couldn't make it to the open house yesterday (though it would be nice if they gave me a bit more than a single day's notice...). I do know that it was video games and learning to hack and modify them (back in the early days of DOS) that got me into computers in the first place.

This program has me considering going back to UL-Lafayette!

John said...

Nick,

At least you got a notice!

I think the game tools today are supposed to be a lot of fun and you'd probably find a whole new world there.

Fun is a vastly underated learning tool. We have a bad tendency to force kids to "learn the basics" before they are allowed to have fun in the subject (whether its reading or animatronic robots). This is a bad idea--not because it isn't logical but because it doesn't work. :-)

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