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RCCC turns gamers into budding developers with video game design camp

CONCORD ó These days, just about anyone can play a video game ó whether itís virtual bowling or dancing or karaoke ó but not everyone has the skill to actually design a game.
This summer, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College launched a new Game Design day camp to help students imagine, plan, design and create their very own computer game.
With the gaming industry debating the future of consoles like PlayStation and Wii, computer gaming is becoming all that much more important.
ěGame development is being implemented in many different types of industries and professions. Simulation and design are already being used in Fortune 500 companies for education, training and management modules,î said Pepsi Boyer, M.S., instructor for the day camp and Web Technologies. ěThe expansion of game design development techniques within all industries will eventually be inevitable.î
The first day camp the college has offered, the Game Design day camp was developed by Rowan-Cabarrus as an introduction for students to the world of computer programming.
ěThese budding developers often donít even realize theyíre learning important skills and concepts they must eventually master to succeed in the competitive global IT workforce ó things like object-oriented and event-driven programming, agile development, graphic interface design, idea sharing, peer review, revisioning, presentation and, above all, confidence,î said Rob Muhlstein of IBM, who assisted with the day camp. ěStudents leave having completed a game in a week that would have taken seasoned developers from earlier generations a year to develop.î
The 14 students in the camp were all boys, ages 12-16. While all of them were avid gamers, none of them had created a game themselves. The games created covered a range of interests and types ó from sports to civil duty to mazes.
ěThis program shows that education and fun really can go together,î said President Dr. Carol Spalding. ěIím excited about the new ways Rowan-Cabarrus is reaching the community. From creating a day camp like this to developing more online courses, we are trying new and different ways to improve the access and availability of quality education.î
The camp consisted of four full days of training from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a special evening showcase for students to reveal their games to family and friends. The camp was held at the collegeís Cabarrus Business and Technology Center (CBTC) in Concord.
ěWe have some great offerings here at Rowan-Cabarrus that people just donít know about,î said Dr. Scott Nason, head of the Rowan-Cabarrus Web Technologies program. ěBy doing this day camp, weíre showing students and parents that we offer things they might not think about.î
The program the students used is actually a free download called GameMaker. Several parents acknowledged that their children went home, downloaded the program and continued designing immediately after camp hours.
ěNot surprisingly, the students took to the program quite quickly,î said Boyer. ěItís also great that the program is free because the students can literally take their work home and continue to explore. Theyíll be able to build games in the future and keep learning.î
In addition to the Game Design Day Camp, Rowan-Cabarrus also offers a Web Academy, where students can become industry-recognized Certified Internet Webmasters, and a Simulation and Game Development Academy.
For more information on these offerings, please contact Dr. Scott Nason, Program Head, Web Technologies, at 704-216-3784 or visit www.rccc.edu.
ěThey really taught us a lot,î said 13-year-old Brooks Burris of Salisbury. ěI built this entire game by myself, except for the background. Itís cool.î

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