PORTSMOUTH — Shawnee State University has been ranked 9th in the nation among The Princeton Review’s Top Undergraduate Schools for Game Design. This makes the 12th consecutive year the university has been named to the list.
“I’m very proud of the degree program,” said Paul Yost, Associate Professor in the Simulation & Gaming Engineering Technology program. “One thing that attracted me to the ‘game programming’ aspect of this degree is that game programming naturally has the ability to do what a college degree should do – encourage critical thinking and encourage integration of a broad range of subjects in a meaningful way.”
Yost was a pioneer in creating SSU’s game and simulation programming degree in 2004, an addition to the university’s game arts degree. He noticed the desire within his students to take a more rigorous course load related to that specific area of study.
“During my classes, many students mentioned how much they enjoyed assignments about game programming and graphics programming,” he said. “Because of their excitement, I began putting serious thought into creating a new kind of degree – a rigorous computer science/engineering degree that placed game and simulation programming at the center of the learning experience. Now I’m an Associate Professor specifically within that degree where I teach a range of engineering, programming, and computer science classes.”
As with most technology, game development is rapidly evolving and changing. Yost witnessed this firsthand in his program and learned to adapt.
“We are always adapting the degree and our class-content to address those changes,” said Yost. “Graphics programming, optimization techniques, and real-time interactive programming are changing rapidly in our program. The faculty are constantly evolving lecture material and the course sequence itself to adapt to the industry.”
In an environment where emerging technology is critical, Yost noted the coursework the degree program offers to prepare students for a professional career after graduation.
“The program continues to provide educational opportunities for new technologies such as VR, AR, artificial intelligence, and many other topics by providing ‘special topics’ courses and technical elective courses,” he said.
SSU’s game design programs – which include degrees in both game programming and game arts – are competitive. Greg Lyons, Professor of 3D Art & Design, specifically mentioned how he has witnessed this and how SSU students stand out in the industry.
“It’s a competitive industry,” said Lyons. “The good thing about the programming and art aspect of the industry is that it is solely merit-based. Shawnee’s students come in on day one with a work ethic that will help them succeed. They work tirelessly in their respective areas to truly hone their craft and market themselves.”
Students in both tracks of the gaming program at SSU have a number of resources to their advantage. Professors and faculty within the program are committed to providing a healthy and beneficial learning experience.
“Our faculty is able to provide students with guidance on the personal and academic levels thanks to our smaller class sizes,” said Lyons. “We want to see our students become successful developers and artists and discover who they are as professionals in the field. Students learn and work in different ways, and we actually encourage that. Those specialized differences help the gaming industry evolve.”
The faculty in SSU’s program are optimistic about career opportunities for their graduates.
“Many of our students go on to be very successful after graduation,” said Lyons. “As a game developer, students are not tied down to a specific paycheck-to-paycheck position. Students will have marketable skills in programming and art by the time they leave us. Merit-based skills can get them anywhere if they work hard in our program.”
SSU’s gaming program plans to continue working diligently to climb up the rankings. Yost is passionate about the program’s success.
“I am so thankful for all who have brought this degree from a small idea to success,” he said. “Education works best when we’re helping our students realize their dreams, both personal and professional. I look forward to continuing the quest for excellence within our program.”
The Princeton Review chose the schools based on its 2022 survey of administrators at 150 institutions in the U.S., Canada, and abroad offering game design courses, majors, or degree programs. For more information about Shawnee State University’s gaming programs, visit www.shawnee.edu/gaming.