Miami U. gaming program among country’s best in growing industry

Bob De Schutter is not only on the faculty of Miami s game design program, but he has completed work on an interactive history game based on interviews with his grandmother and her experiences in Belgium with the Nazis during World War II. CONTRIBUTED
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Bob De Schutter is not only on the faculty of Miami s game design program, but he has completed work on an interactive history game based on interviews with his grandmother and her experiences in Belgium with the Nazis during World War II. CONTRIBUTED

A Miami University program that has been recognized as among the world’s best in its field is continuing to prepare students for advancements in the gaming industry.

The Armstrong Interactive Media Studies program is organized under the Farmer School of Business because it is seen as a study which includes such diverse fields as math, science, liberal arts, art, design, business, even music.

“The gaming industry is massive, massive, massive. Jobs in the gaming industry are difficult. They are very stable. It’s hard to compete for them as an undergrad with no experience,” according to Glenn Platt, who is the university’s C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Network Technology and Management.

Intelligent.com announced in December it has ranked Miami’s AIMS program the best in the country, calling it the “Intelligent pick” among 23 top-ranked schools and more than 400 programs. Other rankings have Miami ranked as third in the world, which includes some private programs in addition to college offerings, and third by the Princeton Review.

“We see gaming as liberal arts for the 21st century,” Platt said, adding they emphasize the user experience with the expected coding and design as well as business. “We have an interdisciplinary approach to teaching. Gaming is often offered in computer science or the art department. We’ve got a guy from the music department teaching music for gaming, a guy in the art department, someone in English teaching writing for gaming.”

All of those skills come into play for effective and popular games, but are also important skills for anyone in any job.

Games also include history, so there is an element of that taught in the program, as well. While many games involving battle, fighting and searching have an element of history, Platt cites a real-life history-based game created by Bob De Schutter, the C. Michael Armstrong Associate Professor of Applied Game Design. De Schutter, who joined Miami in 2013, received Miami’s Junior Faculty Scholar Award for sustained excellence in business, education and social sciences in 2018.

His game, Brukel, is a digital interactive game which won a gold medal at the International Serious Play Awards 2019 last June. It was recognized in the category “games for good,” designed for use in educational settings.

“Bob spent hours interviewing his grandmother about her experiences in Belgium in World War II about the drama around her house with the Nazis,” Platt said. “He built the game and you even hear her voice. You learn history through a graphic element. It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous game. It won a ton of awards. It’s a rare game. There is not a shooter. You do not kill anyone. As you move through the game, you understand what her life was like.”