Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Using Video Games to Teach Game Design: A GAMING COLLECTION FOR LIBRARIES

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Using Video Games to Teach Game Design: A GAMING COLLECTION FOR LIBRARIES

Article excerpt

Games are now able to draw players in and deliver rich stories that evoke real emotions comparable to those evoked by any book or movie.

With a forecast value of $10.3 billion by 2011, video gaming has moved from the perspective of a pastime toy to a driving economic force. The interest in video games has led to an explosion of video-game employees, with more than 24,000 in the entertainment software industry in the U.S. This demand has led to an increase of video gaming-related education programs, which are now offered at more than 500 higher-education institutions.

Game-design programs are relatively new in the world of academia, as Kristen Mastel discovered when she worked as Brown College's librarian and learning resource center coordinator. With that newness comes the challenge of determining a "core" collection of materials to support the discipline. This kind of core collection is especially difficult to put together because game design is interdisciplinary: Students learn about anatomy to be able to replicate human and animal forms; they learn about physics and how characters interact and move within their virtual worlds; they learn about physical space and level design; and they learn how to create a story. In addition, games can teach game-design students about graphic design and marketing and can present business models that will help them create sustainable products.

The following is a sample of video games compiled by Kristen and developer/programmer Dave Huston that will help you build a core collection for your game-design program.

Avatar Anatomy

A well-rounded knowledge of the anatomy of humans and animals is extremely important to any individual interested in 3D modeling or animation of characters and creatures within a game world. These games focus on characters and the creation of characters.

* Spore Creature Creator: While not so much a game as it is a marketing tool for the full game, the Spore Creature Creator represents a hallmark in games. Players are given the tools to create any kind of creature they want. In order to bring these creatures to life, the game uses procedural animation and texturing techniques to look at a player's creation intelligently and then determine how it would move, the patterns in its skin or fur, and the ways it will interact with other creatures.

* The Sims 2: Where the Spore Creature Creator excels at showing how various creatures might move, The Sims 2 does the same for humans. With the camera steadily focused on its extremely detailed residents, The Sims 2 provides ample opportunity for students to see animations as complex as dancing or yoga to the mundane such as walking, napping, or turning on a faucet.

Physics

With advances in processor power over the last 5 years, we've seen great strides in creating realistic physics for games. As developers become more comfortable with these concepts, players will be able to enjoy richer, more realistic worlds as they face deeper challenges than ever before.

* Half-Life 2: Valve Software's long-awaited sequel to Half-Life presented gamers with an enormous jump in the quality of the environments and challenged them with unique puzzles. Foremost among its features is its physics engine. Nearly everything in the game reacts exactly as it would in the real world, and the designers make use of this expertly. Initially, they present the player with a playground, where he or she can see how objects interact with one another and can experiment with items such as a seesaw, a cement block, and a stuffed bear. Later, players must put these kinds of objects to work in order to advance in the game, seeking out objects to use as counterweights so that they can reach higher areas and making use of physic-driven traps to stop their enemies.

Physical Spaces-Architecture/Interior Design/Landscape

Level design is a key factor that will make or break an)? game. …

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