Dec 10, 2023  
Rensselaer Catalog 2018-2019 
Rensselaer Catalog 2018-2019 [Archived Catalog]

Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences

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Director: Benjamin Chang

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences offers a major program called Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) that leads to a B.S. degree in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences and provides the option of concentrations or dual majors in these areas: Electronic Arts, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Management, Music, and Writing. This interdisciplinary major is offered through the Departments of Arts, Science and Technology Studies, Cognitive Science, and Communication and Media.

GSAS has two components stressing acquiring fundamental principles and skills in a range of disciplines, while also obtaining depth in a single area of concentration in game studies. The first component fulfills the requirements for the B.S. and is designed to ensure that every graduate develops a set of integrated skills that external reviewers, industry leaders, academics, and GSAS faculty have identified as important for leaders in the field: experience working in interdisciplinary teams, proven abilities in producing work as demonstrated by having a portfolio in hand at graduation, analytical and communication skills, and experience pushing the boundaries of present-day genres and technologies through research. The second component allows students to concentrate in one of several disciplines directly related to existing or emerging career paths in the games and simulation/entertainment industry: Electronic Arts, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Management, Music, and Writing. The curriculum in both components provides many team experiences and cycles of design, analysis, and iteration, as well as a formal research component. The curriculum is designed to help ensure that graduates can develop as leaders in the game industry as well as in other fields that make use of highly interactive media, e.g. training and simulation applications found in business, education, and government; business management in emerging new media fields.

The study of games and the game experience offers fascinating new opportunities for collaboration among academic disciplines in engineering, arts and visual design, cultural studies, social and behavioral sciences, computer sciences, and information technology. The commercial and entertainment function of games and the industry’s explosive economic growth stimulates the study of digital games. But equally important, emerging applications for interactive simulation will create breakthroughs in communication, education, training, artistic expression, modeling complex systems, and social simulation and prediction. These burgeoning areas use games as software interfaces, simulation platforms, and as virtual communication environments and pose important questions for research and education.

The keys to success in this dynamic area of intellectual pursuit are a balance of disciplinary competence, a comprehensive understanding of interactive digital media, and a mastery of a clearly defined set of related disciplinary choices. One signature of GSAS graduates is their ability to communicate and interact effectively within teams composed of individuals with highly diverse backgrounds, while bringing a strong disciplinary background and developed skill set of their own to the team.

Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum

Students who successfully complete this program will be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to work effectively in goal-oriented game development teams and have well-developed leadership and management skills.
  • a strong sense of “procedural literacy” (how to construct, analyze, and manage processes), through scripting and programming.
  • fluency in at least one programming or scripting language used in the production of interactive games or interfaces, with expertise in at least one game development platform.
  • an ability to produce written, oral, and visual communications that clearly express their ideas.
  • an ability to explain and apply basic psychological theories of human perception, learning, motivation, social interaction, and play.
  • an ability to develop a solid portfolio illustrating abilities and work experience (e.g. examples of industry experience, research, writing samples, and creative works).



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