From: LARRY KLAES (ljk4_at_msn.com)
Date: Sat Dec 06 2003 - 22:01:02 PST
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2003 12:29 PM
To: CUNEWS-PHYSICAL_SCIENCE-L_at_cornell.edu; CUNEWS-SOCIAL_SCIENCE-L_at_cornell.edu; CUNEWS-SCIENCE-L_at_cornell.edu
Subject: Cornell News: computer game design course
Computer Game Design Initiative at Cornell shows games are not just for playing
FOR RELEASE: Dec. 1, 2003
Contact: Bill Steele
ITHACA, N.Y. -- Most parents -- and not a few teachers -- think
computer games are a waste of time. David Schwartz, Cornell assistant
professor of computer science, thinks they can be a powerful teaching
tool -- especially if you get students interested in creating their
So Schwartz, aided by Rajmohan Rajagopalan, Cornell instructor in
computer science, and Rama Hoetzlein, who graduated from Cornell in
2001 with a dual major in computer science and fine art, is teaching
an experimental course in computer game design. The course is part of
an overall plan Schwartz calls the Computer Game Design Initiative.
He hopes that game design eventually can become a tool to interest
high school and elementary school students in science and technology,
while teaching a little physics, writing and other skills along the
Members of the public will be able to play games created in the
course at an open house Wednesday, Dec.10, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. in 319
Upson Hall (the Computer Science Undergraduate Lab) on the Cornell
campus. This semester's projects involve several multi-player
networked games, strategy- and arcade-style games and demonstrations
of technology used to create games. Along with traditional
role-playing and spaceship-combat games, students have created an
electronic version of Foosball and the whimsical "Nuts of Justice 2"
-- the project's first sequel game -- which pits squirrel against
The interdisciplinary course, Introduction to Computer Game Design,
includes nearly 50 students in computer science, art, engineering,
music and English, who work in teams to design real games. Part 1 of
the course includes classroom work covering an overview of the game
industry and social aspects of game-playing, leading up to the
creation of a game. Part 2 is all game-building. Part 1 and Part 2
run concurrently each semester.Most students earn three credits,
although a few who join in briefly to create music and art for the
games may receive fewer credits. This year, for the first time, team
participants include four high-school apprentices from Ithaca's
Learning Web, along with community volunteers.
Schwartz uses "People like games" as a catchphrase. "And in creating
games," he says, "you have to learn programming and some physics
about the way objects move. You have to write a story for the game.
Later the students have to create a technical report, so there's
technical writing practice."
A few universities have courses in game design, Schwartz says. What's
different here, he says, is the interdisciplinary approach, bringing
in students from several colleges to contribute art, music and
programming. The current course is a prototype with funding from the
General Electric Foundation. Schwartz has been teaching the course in
various forms for five semesters and will continue it in its present
experimental status through the spring. Then he is proposing to offer
it as a "real" course starting next summer and continuing in the fall
of 2004. He expects some skepticism from his colleagues, but he
points out that gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry, and
preparing students for careers in that industry makes as much sense
as teaching acting or cinema.
If he can find funding, Schwartz hopes to send teams of his students
out to local public schools to teach game design, even offering
simple approaches in pre-K and elementary schools. "Kids love games,"
he says, varying his catchphrase. "This is something we can
capitalize on. Most of the educational research involves applying a
particular game in a topic area. We propose to allow the children to
pitch their own ideas, which should help motivate them to learn."
The plan includes a special initiative to interest girls. Women are
still underrepresented in computer science, and Schwartz says
research indicates that they get turned off on computers somewhere
around fourth grade, possibly because computer games tend to
emphasize guns and violence. "We'll find women students who'd be
interested in paying jobs to teach game design, and have them work
with teams of young girls," he explains.
He also hopes to work with sociologists and psychologists to study
such questions as how the content of games affects players. "We can
give them games with a 'knob' that lets them turn the violence up or
down, to watch the effect," he suggests.
Previews of games to be shown at the open house, along with games
created in previous semesters, are available for downloading from the
course Web site at <http://www.cs.cornell.edu/projects/game/2003fa>.
The web version of this release may be found at
Cornell University News Service
Ithaca, NY 14853
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.6 : Sat Dec 06 2003 - 22:07:13 PST