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Friday, December 20, 2013

About The Pennsylvania College of Technology

     The Pennsylvania College of Technology is the nerdy little sister of the Penn State. This is where you'll find all sorts of IT majors, nursing degrees, baking certification, and automotive programs. I took it upon myself to add my school to Game Career Guide's school listing a while back. I want to draw more attention to the Gaming & Simulation degree that I'm in. It's a new program only two and a half years old, but has the potential to be something great. It's a quality game degree that takes the programming aspect seriously and doesn't cost $400,000 to attend.

     Although you know what complaints I have about the current curriculum this place still has something special. It's an affordable alternative for future game devs in PA. I want to make a difference here so the school and its students can thrive. The Gaming major is new and needs a voice and I spoke up first to set an example and bring change. I just want to help more game developers get off the ground because so many get discouraged or don't know where to start.

     I'm feeling really excited because I'm going to see first year students in the gaming lab for the first time next semester. The first Spring semester is the first class where gaming students actually take a gaming course. They work with Game Maker in small teams to get the basics of game design, asset creation, and programming down.

     Just thinking about the new faces has me feeling like an excited kid about to meet his baby brother. It's my mission to speak to every gaming student on campus because I'm dying to have someone to talk about game design with in person. I volunteered to speak to the newbies last year at a welcoming conference and explained what they would be doing in the coming semester and gave suggestions of using YouTube to get started on their own.

     I'm lucky I found the college by looking around for local schools. The other options I found where either crazy expensive or screamed of scam. I wanted to learn something I couldn't on my own. I wanted to learn to work with a team. I wanted to have rivals and mentors who pushed me forward. I wanted to see groups forming indie teams and development clubs. Most of all, I didn't want to be in debt forever.

     Enter Penn College. A local school with a price tag totaling to about $100,000 for four years and a respectable degree. You get to use industry standards like Unity, Unreal, Game Maker, DAZ3D, and 3DS Max to make graded group projects. You'll have to sit through a lot of other IT classes to finish the degree though. And that brings up the negative points.

     I think this school is taking a huge risk and needs to see some results and examples before dedicating more resources to it. The program got started one year before I started attending, so nobody has graduated or received a job offer yet. There is a computer lab filled with 25+ Alienware Desktops and two teachers responsible for all the courses relating to gaming.

     Despite the flaws, I think this is a good a choice for a game school. The big thing to keep in mind is that a degree is never a guarantee. It's a check-mark that'll keep you're resume from being tossed away instantly. What you need most is a portfolio. People hire people to do a job. When looking for someone to do something, they like to see if the applicants can do what they're hiring them to do.

     It's why I told the new guys (and girls) to get started ASAP. The school is a great chance to learn about teamwork in an environment where group members are much less likely to quit and plenty of people are around to offer support. The lessons in class are a great starting point for those unfamiliar with the tools and concepts of game creation. However, the thing that matters most is what you can do outside the classroom. Making your own games on your own time is where you will learn the most. Put the skills and teams formed in class to work and create your own masterpieces.

     Not many places would give video games a chance as a major. It's new technology older generations don't understand and it's human nature to dislike the unfamiliar. There are still plenty of people out there who don't consider it a respectable profession. Much like comic books of old, games face scrutiny from older generations. A state school willing to give the gaming industry a shot deserved a bit of attention.

     You can find the important school information in one place here if you're looking into it. If you want info specifically on the Gaming & Simulation major to go to the official site for the program. I'd love to see new generations coming in and setting an example for this school and others. The more students and alumni, the more seriously game careers will be taken.

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