As high school juniors and seniors grapple with college decisions, they may be surprised to find a promising career path is already in their hands—in the games and apps they play for fun and rely on for everyday life.
In the Fall of 2019, Villa Maria College will launch two four-year degree programs—Game Design (BFA), the first full program of its kind in the Buffalo area, and Computer Software Development (BS).
Built on the foundation of Villa Maria’s highly-regarded animation and graphic design programs, each new track is projected to enroll new students in 2019. True to the Villa Way, the ultra-small class sizes guarantee individualized attention in hands-on, studio-based environments where students will learn cutting-edge technologies and approaches.
A veteran animation professor, Jeffrey Werner helped create the Game Design program. Werner is the founder of E-regular Games, an online gaming platform where he creates games that encourage creativity, problem solving, and social interaction. He and his fellow collaborators have launched a number of games over the years. “The Video Game Industry in the United States is larger than both the Movie Industry and the Music Industry combined,” said Werner. “This means that highly educated employees are in high demand and a degree from Villa will offer students a hands on approach to learning every aspect of Video Game Development in order to properly prepare them to excel in the industry.”
In Computer Software Development, program consultant Jeffrey Lesinski designed classes like Comparative Programming Languages, delivering a curriculum that covers more languages than is typical. “Villa’s new Computer Software Development program has both depth and breadth,” said Lesinski. “This is a high demand field and students can expect to learn the contemporary programming languages within a complete set of environments and platforms, from machine-level through mobile apps to high-level systems. The projects students will complete during the course build off of common principles and are realistic in that students work individually, in a team setting and in internships.
Outside classwork, students have free reign of Villa Maria’s diverse studios, including an art shop, photography lighting lab, stop-motion studio, recording studio, and state-of-the-art computer lab. The fact sheets linked below present a fuller picture.
“Villa Maria College has a long history of being recognized for its high-quality programs in design, arts, and technology. Game Design and Computer Software Development build off of that history, complement and strengthen existing programs like Animation and Graphic Design, and prepare students for lots of opportunities in today’s job market,” said Dr. Matthew Giordano, Villa’s president. “These programs fit perfectly within the signature mission-driven, hands-on, student-centered learning environment that Villa offers. We are excited to welcome a new cohort of gamers, artists, designers, and techies to campus!”
For students who embark on these career paths, the outlook is bright: The Department of Labor reports that computer software developers are enjoying faster-than-average job growth around 24%, with the median salary pegged at nearly $108,000. Similarly, video game designers pull in an average salary of $88,000, with growth expected around 10% over the next decade.
Here in Western New York, an active video game development culture and ever-growing startup scene confirm the potential and enthusiasm that surrounds these two programs. John Futscher, President of Buffalo Game Space, a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting local game developers, said “We’re excited to see more programs supporting our mission of growing STEAM skills and furthering game development as an industry here in Western New York. The skills that go into making games are incredibly valuable not only for our local workforce, but also benefits the culture of the area in this exciting new medium. We look forward to working with these new students.”
“There is more activity in Buffalo’s startup ecosystem than ever and 43North applauds Villa Maria College’s efforts to prepare their students for the jobs of the future,” said 43North President Alex Gress. “43North recently invested in a cutting-edge educational video game design company, Immersed Games, and we are excited to see how the graduates of Villa’s new program might contribute to this growing sector in Western New York’s economy.”
Villa Maria’s Spring Open House is scheduled for Saturday, March 23, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Interested students and families can RSVP today, or schedule an individual visit for a more personalized tour.