Ready new major? Why Metro State should level up on game studies

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The gaming industry is booming, and we at Metro State have a chance to get on board.

Gaming can be more than a hobby to pursue in our free time. Students should have the opportunity to turn their passion into a profession.

For students interested in the gaming industry, Metro State currently offers a game studies minor — but no major. Pushing to create the first game studies major in Minnesota is Dr. Alex Layne, associate professor in the School of Communication, Writing and the Arts.

Layne has laid the groundwork for this exciting new program. But the effort to get a game studies major in the undergraduate catalog will be a multiplayer one.  

What exactly is game studies?

According to Layne, game studies is “the critical study of video games as a rhetorical cultural artifact.”

Just as with film studies—or any other major with a critical, analytical emphasis— there is a heavy focus on the interaction between the gaming industry and society.

“We’re looking at the impact games have on our culture and we’re looking at the way our culture influences games,” explains Layne.

What do students gain with the game studies minor?

The minor consists of four courses and 16 credits. Core curriculum is three courses: Children, Adolescents, and the Media; Video Game Culture; and Writing for Video Games. For the fourth course, students pick an elective from an approved list.

Layne says the core courses explore games as a creative medium and investigate their impact on users.

“Games are worthy of attention and investigation at a higher level and the minor provides the setting to do that,” says Layne.

Why make game studies a major?

Gaming is steadily increasing in popularity and expanding into other markets.

“Everyone wants to gamify everything and make everything like a game,” Layne explains. “The Mayo Clinic is wanting to gamify their patient portal.”

For the major to come together, additional courses must be added. Programming, coding and game development classes will be key to powering up students’ skills.

Graduates of the game studies major would be primed to become video game developers for top companies like Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Sony and Sega.

“You could also go and make your own indie studio and make your own games,” says Layne. “Making online interactive environments is our future.”

Layne hopes to have the game studies major on the books within five years—though fall 2020 would be even better.

“No one else has done it yet,” she says. “We have the first minor in the books, so we have a foothold in the door.” Layne finds things happen way faster at our university when there’s broad support.

Metro State has the opportunity to take the top spot on the leaderboard in this emerging academic field. So, students, let’s work together to level up to a game studies major.