Eastern Kentucky University’s game design program ranks 50th internationally, according to The Princeton Review.
The Princeton Review (www.PrincetonReview.com) determined its rankings based on a survey it conducted in 2015 of 150 institutions offering game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States, Canada, and some other countries.
The company's 40-question survey asked schools to report on everything from their academic offerings and faculty credentials to their graduates’ starting salaries and employment experience. Among criteria The Princeton Review weighed to make its selections: each school's academics, facilities, career services, and technology.
The high international ranking “says that we are committed to strive to keep our program and our students competitive,” said Dr. George Landon, director of the EKU Gaming Institute. “We are serious about game design and how EKU fits into the bigger picture – both in academia and industry.
“We frequently hear from students visiting schools in other states who are surprised to find out we offer a similar program in Kentucky,” Landon added. “Being ranked by The Princeton Review will make it much easier for prospective students to find us.”
EKU boasts one of the newer programs on the list. The Gaming Institute was established in 2014. “Many of these schools have been at it for over 10 years, and some are closer to 20 years,” Landon noted.
Home to the Commonwealth’s first bachelor’s degree program in game design, EKU will host Kentucky’s first-ever game design conference on Saturday, April 30. The EKU Gaming Institute (gaming.eku.edu) is partnering with the Richmond office of the Kentucky Innovation Network, RunJumpDev of Lexington and Tech Base 10 to present Vector, a celebration of developers from the Midwest and southeastern U.S. and an opportunity for them to network with leaders and peers in the field of game design and development.
“We believe this event will expand awareness of our program beyond eastern and central
Kentucky and cement EKU’s standing as the premier game design school in the state and region,” Landon said earlier this year. “It will also provide our students and alumni and working game developers with a local conference that has many of the benefits of larger west coast game conferences and create a better network for our graduating students by connecting industry with our campus.”
In fact, The Princeton Review took note of the conference, Landon said. “The Review is very interested in events we host as an academic program. With good reason they consider this in their rankings, and Vector is an important part of our ranking.”
This past year, Eastern added a cutting-edge motion capture studio to its facilities in the Wallace Building. With the addition of the studio, the University now employs the same technology that Hollywood and game studios use to capture actor performance in movies and games. Landon said at the time of its debut that the studio would “make us competitive nationally with the best programs in game design.”
Obviously, The Princeton Review agrees.
“It has long been our mission to help students find – and get into – the schools best for them,” said Senior VP/Publisher Robert Franek. “For students aspiring to work in the burgeoning field of game design, we strongly recommend EKU and each of the other schools that made our 2016 lists. These are truly the ‘cream of the crop’ institutions from which to launch a career. Their faculties are outstanding. Their facilities are awesome. And their alumni include legions of the industry's most prominent game designers, developers, artists and entrepreneurs.”
As a young program, EKU can’t yet count many alumni. But that will soon change, with 105 Interactive Media majors today.
“It’s an extremely hot career field and growing,” Landon said. “I’m constantly hearing of new ways to get into the field and new job prospects opening. It’s an ever-changing field that is very competitive, but with countless opportunities.”
The Interactive Multimedia option within the baccalaureate degree in Computer Science at EKU develops students’ expertise in game design, 3-D modeling and animation, graphics programming, and multimedia systems. The Gaming Institute focuses on the design, development, and publication of video games within an academic context. The University also offers a minor in Interactive Multimedia.
For the fourth consecutive year, The Princeton Review teamed up with PC Gamer, a monthly magazine published by Future plc (www.futureplc.com) as its reporting partner on the project. PC Gamer features the list in its May issue, available on newsstands March 29.
The Princeton Review developed its “Top Schools to Study Game Design” project in 2009 with assistance from a national advisory board that helped design the survey instrument and methodology. Board members included administrators and faculty from respected game design programs, as well as professionals from some of the top gaming companies.