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LIU is Preparing Students to Get “the Best Job in America”

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Three of LIU’s newest degree programs are preparing students to get “the best job in America.” 

When CNN teamed up with Payscale to prepare a list of the 100 “Best Jobs in America” – based on industry growth, compensation, and job satisfaction – mobile app development topped the list. As mobile technology continues to permeate our lives, demand continues to grow for developers who can build and refine secure, user-friendly, and popular applications for smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices. 

That’s good news for students studying Digital Game Design and Development at LIU Post, where programming for mobile devices is becoming increasingly popular in a department whose scope also includes PC and console gaming. The increase in mobile gaming is particularly noticeable in a course entitled, “The Game Industry,” where students are responsible for developing, releasing, and marketing a game, with grades determined based on the game’s success in the market.

“More and more students are moving towards making mobile games for that class. It’s a market that’s geared toward smaller games,” said program director Ramiro Corbetta.

“I think most students start out working on PC games, because when you’re working on your computer, it runs on your computer right away. Some students, once they start making things for mobile, they keep going back. It’s something extra, when everyone else’s games run on a PC, to be able to hand someone a phone and say, ‘Look, this is running on a phone already.’ It feels more finished.”

The department recently hosted its second annual section of the Global Game Jam, welcoming students and aspiring game developers from across Long Island to create a total of 11 games based on a theme of “waves” over the course of 48 hours using the state-of-the-art equipment in LIU Post’s Digital Games Lab.

“It was much bigger than the year before,” Corbetta said. “It really helps them focus and try to finish something in the allotted time. For students, I think it’s really good, because you’re rarely pushed that hard. You do 38 hours of work on something in one weekend, so it really propels students forward in their knowledge of game development.”

And, while Corbetta’s program is focused specifically on the gaming world – which accounts for a significant portion of the mobile app market – the principles students learn in LIU’s game development degree programs can be applied to any app development role.

“We’re definitely teaching game design and game development,” Corbetta said, “but all of those skills that we’re teaching – project management for games, audio development for games – transfer into other tech jobs. If someone here makes mobile games and they’ve programmed a bunch of mobile games, once they leave, they could go work for a company that’s making mobile applications that are not games.”

At LIU Brooklyn, a new M.F.A. program in Digital Game and App Development also aims to prepare students to meet the growing demand for app developers. Currently recruiting its first class of students starting in the fall of 2017, the program models the protocols and procedures of game development companies, simulating the real world of game and app design.

“We’re looking to offer a track into the world of gaming in particular and app design in general,” said Larry Banks, chair of LIU Brooklyn’s Media Arts department, “so that students have an efficient pathway into work in the industry”

The program follows a conservatory model, admitting an annual group of students, who work individually and in teams to produce viable design projects with market applications.

“It’s a real-world approach,” Banks said. “Gaming is done with teams, and the class is broken up into teams with students who have a variety of different skills, and then they pitch and develop a game that they would be working on throughout the program.”

That experience, in keeping with the University’s emphasis on experiential learning, gives students a body of work that they can readily present to future employers. It also provides a level of training that allows them to quickly acclimate to a professional environment.

“They get a very real-world experience of what the industry is about,” Banks said. “They can spend six hours in a team meeting, working with an instructor who’s helping them to figure out why the game is or isn’t working the way they want it to. They learn how to create a good game that can sell. They can take that with them and say, ‘This is what I’ve done; this is what I’ve created.’”

And as the first classes enter into the program, LIU will continue to explore new avenues to create student success in one of the fastest-growing fields in today’s economy.

Posted 02/03/2017

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