Ready Player One

Over the summer I was considering an expansion to my computer science program at Concordia when I can across an article about gaming. According to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2021 annual report, 67 percent of all Americans over 18 and 76 percent under 18 play video games. In total, that is around 227 million gamers in America alone! With that in mind, I said to myself "self, let's do something this year that's fun, relevant, engaging, and computer science-related." It was a no-brainer that the next step in the computer science program should involve a video game component as it has such a broad appeal. But what would that look like? It had to be open to everyone, include coding, be saleable, and really explore the artistic side of computer science.

The first idea I had was to offer a full-blown introductory video game building class using the industry-standard Unity game engine. It seems to me a lot of people (students and parents alike) are interested in the idea of making their own game, and for good reason. It’s fun, there's money to be made, it lets you be creative, and the ability to code your vision into something you can see on screen is very powerful. This would be a perfect extension to what the CS program already offers and a great way to get students naturally excited about the class.

The other idea I had was to create a cross-curricular project where each semester the computer science class, 2D Art class, and Graphic Design class would collaborate in building a fully operational arcade machine that will either be distributed to a partner school during a scheduled lunch event or put up for auction at the annual Cadets in Cadence Dinner. While not game programming, this would be a powerful real-world example of collaboration, project management, and promotion.

So what to do? Two very different ideas with completely different objectives and outcomes but both accomplishing my goals for computer science growth at Concordia. Well, I have always been a proponent of if you can't choose one, do them all. And don't you know that is exactly what I have in store for the 2021/22 school year!

I could not be more excited to announce that this school year offers both a shiny, brand-new-off-the-shelf Unity Video Game Development course and the "Arcadet" cross-curricular video game project. Couple these offerings with our existing three Purdue dual credit cs classes, NCWIT/Girls Who Code participation, JROTC robotics collaboration, and the student-led digital signage club and it is pretty clear that if computer science is your game there is no better choice than Concordia!