Students interested in becoming video game developers or working in the field of augmented reality will be able to earn a degree focusing on just that starting this fall at the University of Houston-Victoria.

A Bachelor of Science in Digital Gaming & Simulation will be offered for the first time at the university. Students interested in digital gaming and simulation previously studied these areas as a concentration within the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

The new degree will allow students interested in digital gaming and simulation to focus more on those areas in their classes.

“I am glad to hear the program is going in this direction because it will help students have more experience with creating conceptual art in games,” said Kevin Madrid, a gaming enthusiast and UHV student from Odessa who is earning his degree in this area. “I’m excited for the changes.”

Madrid, who enjoys playing open-world video games, such as the “Legend of Zelda” and “Final Fantasy,” said he is looking forward to taking more artistic courses with the degree change.

Madrid is a senior in the program and would like to become a 3D animator and modeler for a video game company after he graduates.

Madrid said what he likes most about working toward a digital gaming and simulation degree at UHV is the variety of gaming software taught in the program so students after graduation aren’t limited when searching for jobs.

Beverly Tomek, interim dean of the UHV School of Art & Sciences, said she is excited to see the computer science department grow at the university.

“Being able to offer more degrees allows us to help our students achieve their dreams by acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in a variety of computer science-related careers,” Tomek said.

The decision to make the change began in the fall, said Rogerio da Silva, UHV director of the digital gaming and simulation program. The program also recently was included in Animation Career Review’s Top 10 list of programs in the Southwest region for the school’s academic reputation, program quality, value for graduates and employment data.

Previously, students majoring in computer science with a concentration in digital gaming and simulation wanted access to more artistic design courses, da Silva said. Most of the courses in the program focused on building a game from the ground up through computer programming.

But now the degree program, including other programs under curriculum revision such as the Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences with concentrations in digital gaming and simulation and web and media and the Bachelor of Science in Communication Design, eventually may offer different tracks or program options for students.

These options would be for students interested in gaming-related majors in addition to a technical track in gaming, such as gaming design or communications design, da Silva said.

Gaming design would focus on creating the blueprint of the game, such as the story, characters and visuals.

Communications design would concentrate on using graphic elements to convey messages in the game, such as advertising, art and data visualization.

There are ideas right now for new courses that will help provide students with more career options. While the digital gaming and simulation degree can be used for careers in the gaming entertainment field, the technology students learn through the program can be helpful in other technology-based fields, such as building educational simulations, augmented reality, advertising and robotics, da Silva said.

“The sky is the limit,” he said. “The idea for this degree is to open the possibilities for our students.”

To learn more about the university’s undergraduate digital gaming programs, contact da Silva at 361-570-4204 or dasilvar@uhv.edu.

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