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Digital Media Design program at FGCU helping tomorrow's video game developers

Posted at 12:07 AM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 00:13:22-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Designing video games as a job- it sounds like a luxury, right?

But a design program at Florida Gulf Coast University is taking that concept from the virtual world and turning it into reality. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that seems to be growing by the second- video games. Their creation is being taught at Florida Gulf Coast University, as part of the digital media design program.

“It is definitely a passion of mine. I’ve been interested in video games for basically my entire life.”

Thomas Griffin is an alum of the program. For his senior project he created his very own video game demo. The graphics are comparable to those of industry leading games but what’s even more impressive is the amount of work that went behind it.

“I used Game Creator for the main mechanics of John moving around, pushing around objects and collecting objects," says Griffin. "All of the visuals are powered by Gaia Pro, which is a plugin for Unity that kind of improves the overall look of the game as far as lighting and shading and textures. It gives it a nice professional touch to it.”

Two years ago, video games weren’t part of the curriculum at FGCU. Due to high demand, and a growing student body, the university’s design concentration in the art program went through an expansion.

“Because we had so much interest and so many students wanting to do it, we grew into this program and now we’ve been going for two years," says Mike Salmond, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator for the Digital Media Design Program at FGCU. "We just hit, today, 233 majors. We’ve had explosive growth which is really, really fantastic.”

A total of 21 students, like Griffin, graduated from the program in May with a few of them creating a video game. It’s a good start to obtaining that dream job.

“That’s a big thing for us, in digital media design, is prototyping," said Salmond. "Everyone can come up with a great idea, right, for a video game? But making it is very different. So we make sure that our students can do what they want to do so that makes them more valuable to industry when they leave here and they can go out and do all of these amazing things.”

Said Griffin, “As far as a senior project goes at a university, I feel like I pulled off a pretty successful project as far as something that I would either want to continue into the future and release on Steam or something that I’d want to use on my portfolio for looking for jobs in the future.”

You can learn more about the Digital Media Design program at FGCU online right here.