NHTI at Center of Game Development in NH

Video games are big deal today. How big? Consider that there’s a streaming video service (akin to Netflix or Hulu) called Twitch that’s dedicated to just watching people play games.

Zack Wheeler (left to right), Jake Albano and Michael Elser talk about game development while eating snacks at this weekend’s Game Jam at NHTI in Concord on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. Related tasks, notes and drawings fill the white board behind them. Photo via Concord Monitor – see full story here.

With the level of interest rising, NHTI’s video game development program has become more of a draw, said Gregory Walek, professor of animation and graphic game programming at NHTI.

“There are schools that act as hubs for game development, and in New Hampshire we’re one of them,” Walek said. Another is Southern New Hampshire University, but its program is a four-year bachelors, as compared with NHTI’s two-year program.

“Traditionally, students transfer to a four-year bachelor program, but we’ve been able to place students every so often in jobs that would otherwise go to Computer Engineering Technology students,” Walek said.

The program has been on campus at NHTI for about 10 years, and in that time they’ve seen the game development scene take a huge leap forward in New Hampshire. Part of the reason for that huge leap forward is the NHTI program itself and something called “game jams.”

“I give them 48 hours to build a game, and at the end of it we look at what they’ve come up with,” he said. The people who’ve helped grow the game development scene in New Hampshire met at a game jam that NHTI hosted. At that event, like the other game jams, students and developers alike have come together.

“It’s more of a challenge than a competition,” Walek said. “We like people coordinating and working together. When it’s not a competition, it becomes a collaborative event, a community event.”

The Concord Monitor did a nice story on a recent game jam that you can read here (subscription may be required).

Walek said the game jams are an opportunity for students to put into practice what they’ve learned, only in a compact amount of time. Whatever the outcome, those who take part will have learned something.

“Even if a project falls apart, in the process they’ll have learned something and gotten better,” Walek said. “That’s why we hold these events — they make our students better.”

You can read more about NHTI’s Animation and Graphic Game Programming program here.

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