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Generating their own subculture — complete with music, memorable characters, rabid fanbases and plots as deep as blockbuster movies — video games have transformed alongside the innovations of Information Technology (IT) to deliver ever more complex gameplay and immersive storylines.
In the 1970s, crowds swarmed arcades to play the latest coin-operated games such as Pacman, Donkey Kong and Mario Bros.
Once video game consoles could be connected to TVs and personal computers became ubiquitous, games were adopted from console games and new ones were created, taking advantage of the keyboard to deliver even greater interactivity.
With the networking of computers and consoles, gaming took on a whole new dimension, with massively multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft seeing virtual teams come together to battle it out.
Today, the gaming industry has even captured the mainstream market by creating game applications for smartphones and tablets.
Intuitive and interesting
“A good game should be intuitive enough for players to understand its controls and goals and then interesting enough to capture players’ imagination and curiosity,” says Associate Professor Roberto Dillon, who teaches IT and game design at JCU Singapore
“Designing a video game is a bit like composing a song. It all starts from a good idea but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Lots of hard work is needed to ultimately develop and expand that idea into something viable.
For students keen on being at the centre of the digital revolution, JCU offers a diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in IT.
Its Bachelor of Information Technology covers a broad base of subjects including interactive visualisation, games, big data and data mining, interactive 2D and 3D graphics, web and mobile technologies, programming and design thinking. Its master’s programme offers three majors: Computing and Networking, Interactive Technologies and Game Design, and Business Informatics.
“Game development involves techniques we learn through patient study and hard work, while inspiration comes from a constant curiosity to explore new things coupled with a broad general culture and varied interests,” says Prof Dillon.
Game development involves techniques we learn through patient study and hard work, while inspiration comes from a constant curiosity to explore new things coupled with a broad general culture and varied interests.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR ROBERTO DILLON
“We address these in our classes at JCU. Thanks to our JCU Museum of Video and Computer Games, the first of its kind in South-east Asia, students have a unique opportunity to understand games from the ground up and see many interesting ideas that can be re-imagined and expanded for modern devices.
“In subjects like Game Design, Simulation and Projects, they will have a chance to move from theory to practice by using industry standard tools, building a competitive portfolio of games that will help them in future job applications.”
To ensure its students receive industry-relevant projects to work on in the course of their studies, JCU has established ties with local and international IT companies such as Emerio and Logicmills. All IT students also receive a complimentary membership to Singapore Computer Society, the country’s leading infocomm and digital media professional society, to allow them to network with industry.
Job opportunties for JCU’s IT graduates have been expanding. Gamification, or the use of game elements such as point scoring and competition with others in non-gaming contexts, has been a hot area in the corporate world, as companies try to capture the pleasure of games to drive sales.
Game development in Singapore is also set to grow. Prof Dillon says: “I am confident Singapore is going to play an increasingly important role in the global landscape as not only world renowned franchises like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed are partly developed here, but also more and more young and passionate people start their own businesses.
“The early stages of a company are often the most critical but here, thanks to effective government support and incubators, these start-ups are actually allowed to seriously take a shot in the world arena.”
Other areas that may see rapid growth and adoption include the Internet of Things, where objects are networked to collect and exchange data, embedded systems and cloud computing. In the future, Prof Dillon sees virtual reality being used, besides games, for education and training.
Given the ubiquity of IT, he feels that IT students today will play a crucial role for the industry and society in future. “Being at the forefront of technology is something truly exciting that allows us to shape its future direction,” he says.
Check out JCU Singapore’s Open House on May 14. Go to www.jcu.edu.sg/openhouse to sign up.