Pace Magazine

Achievement Unlocked—Pace’s New Game Development Major

Johnni Medina
January 18, 2024
a frame of a pixel art platformer game

Carmine Guida, PhD, is known as the “game guy” in Seidenberg.

Many computer science students at Pace meet Guida early in their education. Guida has been working in Seidenberg’s School of Computer Science and Information for five years, teaching many of the beginner computer science classes that provide foundational skills for the field. When he’s not teaching fundamentals, though, he’s teaching games.

Carmine Guida wears a shirt that says I Heart Computer Science

A developer himself, with several titles on Steam and across mobile app platforms, Guida began teaching game development at Parsons School of Design and NYU. “I didn't realize I would love creating curriculum,” Guida says, explaining how the process of creating gaming classes became an extension of his own interest in the field. “I know I like teaching, but once I was in the thick of it, I discovered that I like creating new classes. It became another creative outlet for me.”

This seems like a natural progression for a game developer and educator. “In a game you learn an action you can take, and then another, and then the game gives you something to combine them,” Guida says. Creating curriculum is basically game-ifying education content, programming courses with specific objectives, outlining tools, and creating activities that reinforce the content. “It’s similar to education. You learn this and this and then have to figure out how to put it together,” Guida says. Instead of shooting zombies or dungeon crawling, the output is theory and skillsets.

At Pace, Guida began teaching his class CIS 151 Game Development for Everyone in Spring 2021 and it’s been a huge hit. “It’s a really fun class,” he says. “It fills up pretty quickly. Every semester I have students emailing me, sad they didn’t register in time.”

The class revealed to him the deep interest in game development right here at Pace, so he began working on a full-fledged game development major in early 2022. He already had a few classes developed, so he spent the next year fleshing out the rest of the curriculum.

a screenshot of a pixel art game with a character walking down a path in a pastoral scene
Farm Defender by Christopher Cummins

The first two years of Guida’s major focus on developing the fundamentals of game programming, with courses that explore artificial intelligence (AI), programming, patterns, pathfinding, and more. This helps students understand how to program the AI in video games, such as the non-player characters, to react to the player and environment. More advanced classes delve into augmented reality and virtual reality, development, and game publishing.

Guida also wanted to ensure that these students weren’t just learning the technological side, as the industry isn’t made up of coders and programmers alone. In his conversations with colleagues working in the industry currently, he realized the importance of a well-rounded, interdisciplinary approach. He explains, “When you're developing games, you're not in a vacuum. You need to work with artists, you need to work with writers.” Because of this, Guida designed the program to incorporate other disciplines, including digital media studies, writing, film, and math.

It's very powerful if you come into an interview and you can show them actual work you’ve done.

While working toward their BS in Game Development, students will actually develop, program, and publish their own games which can be used when they’re ready to begin the job-hunt. “When I interviewed for my job here, I brought an iPad loaded with games I had made,” Guida explains. “It's very powerful if you come into an interview and you can show them actual work you’ve done.” The major culminates in a capstone class that reinforces this experiential approach. “The students act like a tiny game studio and have 14 weeks to produce a game,” Guida says. They work together with a small team to produce a game, from the initial game development document to publication.

This hands-on, project-based methodology is a throughline in the degree program, giving students not only theory and practice, but the opportunity to build a robust portfolio. “By the time students are done in four years they have a platformer game, a top-down game, a first-person game, a mobile game, a VR game, a highly finished polished game, and so on,” says Guida. “They’ll have made games in different genres, different settings, and different styles; so, they’ll have a really good portfolio when they go out to apply for jobs.”

a screenshot of student made platformer game with two characters
Magnetic Squad by Steven Bristovitski and Sevastyan Olevinskiy

Guida’s game development major received final approval this past fall, and incoming students are already beginning to enroll, getting in on one of the fastest-growing industries of tomorrow. “The game industry as of 2020 is bigger than the film industry and music industry combined,” Guida said, and it is projected to grow.

More people are playing games than ever before, and gaming demographics are broadening. “Everyone has phones with games on them, it's such a regular thing,” Guida says. “Every day on the subway I see people playing games, you know. These aren't ‘gamers’, these are just regular folks just playing some games." Even casual games like Candy Crush, which likely isn’t the first example that comes to mind when thinking of video games, has a userbase of over 250 million and yearly revenue exceeding $1 billion.

Every day on the subway I see people playing games, you know. These aren't ‘gamers’, these are just regular folks just playing some games.

What’s more, people are beginning to give video games credit as an artistic medium. Not only has the Museum of Modern Art declared video games as a form of art, but storytellers and filmmakers are getting in on the action. “I get film majors in my classes all the time because for them, games are just another way to tell a story,” Guida says. “Netflix actually recently said they view games as their biggest competition for audiences; they’ve even started to release their own games as a result.” Studios are increasingly turning to video game intellectual property for content, such as the Super Mario Bros. movie (grossing over $1 billion worldwide!) and the critically acclaimed HBO show Last of Us.

It's likely we are entering a golden era of video game development, and with Pace’s new game development major, Pace students are positioned to become leaders and pioneers in this booming industry. "The timing is really good,” Guida says. “There aren’t many schools offering this kind of major, but I think this will be a regular thing in 15 years." As the industry levels up, Pace students are primed to join the game and shape the future of gaming.

Get all the information you need on Pace’s new BS in Game Development, and explore Pace’s library of student-created games.

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