Students often ask, how do I get involved with games at Miami University? Here’s an overview to help you understand all that’s available to you. Students can take classes, join labs, travel to the game developer’s conference and even spend a month at the AIMS San Francisco Game Studio. There are also several clubs, the global game jam, and varied one time projects. Basically, Miami offers everything you’d expect from a top ranked game design program (see Princeton Review, GamePro and EGM for our top 10% ranking) and more. The following outlines each of the opportunities.
The AIMS Games Center website will be your central resource for collecting all games related activities at Miami. If you want to know more about any of the opportunities listed below, simple go to LearnVideoGames.com or visit http://aims.muohio.edu/gamecenter.
AIMS San Francisco Game Studio (6 credit hours)
Students can enroll in the AIMS –Games San Francisco program in May 2013. This 6 credit hour opportunity provides students access to Silicon Valley and the heart of the games industry. This one is month program has developed from the semester long AIMS Digital Innovation center. Participants learn about game design and development by making a game under a studio model. They also visit top game companies like Ubisoft and EA. Students are encouraged to sign up for the program early to assure space. This new program is capped at 20 students and affords students a rare opportunity to get a taste of professional game development. Applications and more information can be found at http://aims.muohio.edu/gamescenter/san-francisco-game-studio/
Miami @ GDC
Students who want to network with industry professionals, learn the latest trends in game-making or just experience the world’s largest game developer’s conference should consider Miami @ GDC. This one credit hour course involves some pre-event course work, attending the game developer’s conference in San Francisco and writing a reflective paper about the experience. This is a spectacular experience for students who want to share their portfolios, interview with employers, understand what they need to do to get a job or just get immersed in the game making community. Students who attended in previous years had the opportunity to show their games to industry professional, sit at lunch with designers, and run into famed game professionals while grabbing a cup of coffee.
Applications and more information can be found at http://aims.muohio.edu/gamescenter/aims-gdc-1-credit-hour/
Participating in labs is a good way to develop your portfolio, understand how academic game studies work, and contribute to research that may change the world. The Armstrong Institute for Interactive Studies has two laboratories that relate specifically to games. The Smale Visualization center does work in simulation, while the Persuasive Play Lab offers both a game development studio and conducts research. Lab students have done work for the Dalai Lama, the Columbus Museum of Art, and the US Air Force. Miami has other labs oriented that also complete games projects in other departments. Computer Science, Communications and several departments in education have research projects involving games.
Students should contact the lab directors for more information about participating in the labs. Generally students can earn credit for participating in the lab through independent study (IMS377), thesis (IMS477, IMS677) and a host of department specific programs. Students may also apply for the undergraduate summer scholars program for financial support in game related independent projects. Scholarships and other financial opportunities may be offered through a lab. Typically students who do substantial work with a lab publish their work – a distinct advantage when applying for graduate schools or jobs. More information the AIMS labs can be found in:
Global Game Jam
Miami University has been hosting its chapter of the Global Game Jam for years. The Global Game Jam is a no-holds barred, weekend long game making “party.” The Global Game Jam is an annual event in which participants design and create digital and non-digital games over the course of one weekend — spread out over the world, but sharing their games for the world to play. At each site, participants gather to develop ideas, form small groups, create new, creative, innovative games, and present them to their peers and the global community, all in a limited time span
Game Jams and Community
Students occasionally organize game jams to practice skills or build community. Often modeled after the global game jam, they are a good opportunity for students to get to know who else is interested in designing, developing or just playing games. Typically the Miami student chapter of the International Game Developer’s Association (IGDA) or the Video Game Design Club organize these events. MEGA also hosts several arcades and parties for the love of games. If you’re more of a strategist, there is also the Miami University Strategy Game student group.
Visit the student web sites or Facebook pages for more information about these organizations or go to http://aims.muohio.edu/gamescenter/community/
Student organizations like the Miami Electronic Gaming Association (MEGA) and the Video Game Design Club bring game professionals to campus. This includes everything from game designers to voice actors from the Grand Theft Auto series. Faculty and staff also bring the games industry to our campus through invited class guests. Students in classes have had the opportunity to talk to Independent Game Festival Finalists and gaming executives. Some courses also culminate in a final game review, judged by folks from places like nearby IndiePub.
Besides these unique opportunities, Miami also offers a variety of games courses. The complete list of games and games related courses are listed at http://aims.muohio.edu/gamescenter/courses/. Generally speaking students who are interested should start with 200 level courses like the Analysis of Play (IMS211) and the Design of Play (IMS212). As you’d expect, most students don’t have time to take all of the games and game related courses at Miami so it’s important to plan early. Students are encouraged to seek out faculty with complimentary interests who are teaching courses in areas they find important.
It’s important to remember that this game isn’t exhaustive, it simply highlights some of the unique opportunities we offer in games.