Published on May 15th, 2013 | by Adam DeMarco6
Warren Spector and UT Austin to launch game development academy
If you are an aspiring game developer, and have dreamt of being taught by industry luminaries, the University of Texas at Austin and Warren Spector are about to team up to give you the opportunity you have been waiting for.
In the Fall of 2014 UT Austin will open the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy – a twelve month postgraduate program which, according to their press release, is designed to “focus on building the skills required for students to lead teams and develop games from concept to completion, while growing talent for the gaming industry.” While UT Austin already offers an undergraduate game development program, this new initiative is specifically meant to train candidates for upper echelon roles within the industry, such as Creative Director or Producer. Graduates of the program will be issued a post-baccalaureate certificate, which is described as having “fewer restrictions than a traditional degree.”
Industry icon Warren Spector (Deus Ex, System Shock, Ultima) will serve as co-chairman of the academy’s advisory board, alongside Blizzard COO Paul Sams. Both men will act as part-time professors at the academy, as well. Austin, along with the state of Texas itself, is a hotbed of game development, hosting offices for such development houses as Activision Blizzard, Arkane Studios, and BioWare, just to name a few. Given how much time remains before the academy is slated to open, it is very possible that we may see several more big names from the industry hop onboard in order to share their expertise with the next generation of game designers.
UT Austin’s undergraduate game development course is a multidisciplinary program including the Colleges of Communication and Fine Arts and the Department of Computer Science. The postgraduate program is being designed with those same fields in mind, and will be open to students from the entire gamut. Throughout the twelve-month program, students will work in teams to bring their own games from concept all the way to completion.
Attendance to the first year of the program will be limited to only twenty students, so admission will be highly selective and very competitive. As if working with the likes of Spector is not enough, however, program participants’ tuition will be completely waived, and each student will be given a $10,000 stipend to cover living expenses – all made possible by the Cain Foundation and its director Wofford Denius (after whom the program is named). The program will be open to any international students whose fields of study fall within the framework of game design.
It seems that UT Austin is looking to offer what is essentially the first Rhodes Scholarship in the field of game design. Given the incredibly selective nature of the program, the names associated with it, and the school’s proximity to a multitude of development studios, graduates of this program will likely be able to write their own tickets when it comes time to enter the workforce. Furthermore, an effort such as this is a testament to the evolution of gaming as a “legitimate” form of media and its growing importance, both culturally and from a business standpoint.