BTS Assistant de Gestion 1998

A Vancouver venture will produce North America's first video-game grads in the fall of 1999.

There was a time when students cut classes to play video games. Now, in Vancouver, there's a group that goes to class to play them.

No, this is not another morality tale about the end of civilization as we know it. It is the story of DigiPen Applied Computer Graphics School, North America's first school for video-games programming, launched last year by Vancouver-based DigiPen Computer Graphics Inc. The school will graduate its first batch of Mortal Kombat hopefuls in the fall of 1996, whisking them into a market that is desperately short of good programmers and offers high-paying rewards for those who dream up the next hot game.

Such pay-for-play prospects attracted 1,200 applicants for the 30 openings in DigiPen's inaugural freshman class. Those who made the grade and were willing to fork over $8,500 in annual tuition fees, according to Claude Comair, DigiPen's president and the school's founder, are problem-solvers with strong creative and mathematical abilities. More than half are from the US, all but one are male and they range in age from 18 to 24. But whether they enrolled after university or straight out of high school , they all have one thing in common : a passion for video games. Says Comair : "They have lived with them, grown up with them, played with them every day of their lives - and they love them."

Classes run Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ; Friday and Saturday are practical days during which students form groups and prepare games. In their first year, they learn general computer science and mathematics. The second year concentrates on the assembly of games on the Power Macintosh and the Super Nintendo Emulator.

Nintendo spent two years with Comair developing a suitable curriculum and the company is only too happy to promote the program and heap praises on it. Will Nintendo also be targeting graduating students for recruitment ? " That wasn't the objective," says Gabriella Nobrega, spokesperson for Nintendo of Canada Ltd. "It was to help the industry as a whole. However we will, just like every other potential employer, be looking at the students. And it may, in fact, turn out that we do hire some.

They'll have to move fast. With the industry's demand for good programmers intensifying, the grads of Video U don't expect to be on the block for long.

Canadian Business, July 1997

grads : graduates

Video U : Video University

to be on the block : (here) to be waiting for a job

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