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Game Art and Design Program Takes Creativity and Turns It Into Business Savvy

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Success in the videogame industry is dependent upon making titles and hardware appeal to 34 million core gamers in the U.S., according to a new report released by the market research company the NPD Group. The 34 million that NPD cited in its report, spend an average of 22 hours per week playing video games and five or more hours a week on a PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, or Mac. Games they play cover the action, adventure, fighting, flight, massively multi-player, racing, real time strategy, role-playing, shooter and sports genres. It takes some creative minds to keep up with the ever-evolving industry — whether one works in Canada or the U.S.

Centennial College’s game design program — officially called Game Art and Design — trains students over a span of two years (of sixteen consecutive months) to be prepared for careers as: character modelers or animators, level designers, environment and effects artists, texture artists and game concept artists. “Now that I’ve finished the program, I can definitely look back and say that everything I’ve learned is relevant and has been applied where I’ve worked,” says 2007 program graduate Helen Thatch.

Because industry professionals and instructors developed the offering, it takes a forward-thinking approach towards the next wave of interactive games. As such, students receive hands-on training that allows them to express their own creativity while building 2D and 3D art assets for games, and developing game environment and characters. Learning occurs at the Story Arts Centre, which is Centennial College’s campus for all of its creative programs within the School of Communication, Media and Design. This location houses up-to-date computer labs, where students use the latest software to enhance their learning. Among courses that student attend are: Creativity in Context, Composition and Colour, Game Theory, Architectural Design, Unreal Editor, Life Drawing, Digital Painting, Character Design and many others.

A supplemental feature is the program’s field placement during the last semester. To make the experience as realistic as possible, students must send their portfolio to the company of your choice to show their work and be considered for a position. Once they find a placement, students work alongside professionals, and get to apply their knowledge and encounter real life scenarios.

As with most schools game design, Centennial’s has admission requirements. Academically, students must have completed an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent, or have mature student status (19 years or older) and Grade 12 English C or U, or equivalent (minimum grade required) or take the Centennial College English Skills Assessment for Admission. Additionally, students must demonstrate a passion and basics skills through the submission of a portfolio that may include 10 to 15 pieces such as life drawings, sketches, paintings, sculptures or digitally produced artwork.

Emma, the author who wrote this article, notes that because Centennial College’s game design program takes two years to complete, it offers a thorough overview of the industry in addition to practical application.

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