Sheridan College admits 75 students to first video game degree program

Sheridan College has admitted about 75 students to Canada’s first four-year degree program in video game design.

The Oakville-based school, which also has campuses in Mississauga and Brampton, said Monday the 75 students were part of a group of 600 who applied for the program, which starts in September.

“Unlike Sheridan grads from illustration or animation, we’ve developed this program to specifically address the game design aspect of the industry,” Sheridan program coordinator and professor Avrim Katzman told YourMississaugaBiz.com.

“Gaming is a rapidly growing cultural industry in Canada and one that’s maturing in complexity and sophistication,” Sheridan’s Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design dean, Ronni Rosenberg, said in a statement.

“We have a wide range of players from young start-up studios to multi-national companies who tackle everything from traditional console games to games for mobile devices or social platforms. Yet Canada lacks a comprehensive educational program that can prepare the high tech, high touch game designers and artists needed to sustain the industry’s future.”

Everyone in the incoming Sheridan game design class has to have passed Grade 12 U-level math as a requirement for the technical side of the program. “If they are isolated to one particular aspect in the visual arts, you can’t design something comprehensively if you don’t understand all aspects,” Katzman said.

“We aren’t training people to be programmers, but we are training them to be literate in programming.”

About 15 of the 75 students are international students and the class is almost 40 per cent female, which Katzman said was very unusual for the normally male-dominated industry.

“There’s really been some issues related to women working in the game field and we’re trying to overcome those prejudices,” he said. “The stereotyping of the gamer, which is really a mainstream activity where everyone should participate.”

Gaming has definitely become mainstream and a big business. In a report last year, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada said there are 348 companies operating in the $1.7 billion sector and more than three quarters of them expect to hire new graduates.

The University of Ontario Institute in Technology in Oshawa offers a Bachelor of IT with a stream in game development and entrepreneurship and the Vancouver Arts School offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a similar focus.

But after four years of development, Sheridan said its Game Design program would be the first fully dedicated Bachelor Degree in Canada. In addition to drawing from existing staff for classes like Intro to 3D Animation, the college has hired two new full-time faculty.

“It’s no secret we’re building on our success in animation,” said Rosenberg.

“Having this track record has earned us partnerships with companies like Ubisoft who have joined the Program Advisory Committee for our new degree. Students will also be required to complete a 14-week industry placement after their third year of study, so partnerships like this one are absolutely critical.”

Sheridan has about 18,000 students at its three campuses and is one of Ontario’s fastest-growing colleges.

 

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