University Park, Pa. — In a first for the University, video gaming -- an industry that generates broad-based interest, employment opportunities and as much as $100 billion worldwide each year -- will be the focus of a general-education class beginning next fall at Penn State.
According to the course description, COMM 190 Gaming and the Interactive Media will provide and introduction to the business operations, future developments, social aspects and career opportunities in industries that produce interactive digital media products such as video games and simulations for business, education, medical military and other applications.
The course also will discuss how interactive media sometimes overlap and affect the physical world in "augmented reality" applications.
"Video games are part of the lives of most, if not virtually all, undergraduate students and will continue to shape their lives at play, but also at work, in the military, in education, medicine, engineering and more," said Richard Taylor, the Palmer chair of telecommunications studies and law. "The course is offered at an introductory level so that all student may gain a foundation of knowledge about the business of this industry sector, which is relevant across many fields."
Taylor, who will teach the course, is a full professor and a member of the Department of Telecommunications in the College of Communications. He has more than 35 years of experience in the telecommunications field. His scholarly work has primarily been in understanding the impact of investment in information technologies.
"The interactive media/video game industry has extended far beyond its original markets, and is now on an economic scale exceeding recorded music and movies. It is growing while several traditional industries are entering a period of decline," said Matt Jackson, head of the Department of Telecommunications. "It is a natural outgrowth of the core curriculum of our department, and fits well with the department’s portfolio of other offerings."
The general-education course represents another addition to the communications offerings for all students at Penn State. From fall 2005 to fall 2010, enrollment in those courses has increased 28 percent as the College of Communications and its faculty meet a growing University-wide need.
"We take seriously our obligation to provide quality undergraduate instruction not only to our majors, but also to students in disciplines across the University," Dean Doug Anderson said.
In fall 2005, 1,824 students enrolled in general-education courses taught by communications faculty members. In fall 2010, 2,342 students -- about 75 percent of whom were noncommunications majors -- were enrolled.
All candidates for baccalaureate degrees from Penn State are required to complete at least 45 credits of general-education course work that is intended to cultivate a broad understanding of the arts and sciences, build on the intellectual foundations for majors from accounting to zoology, and to prepare an educated and informed citizenry.
The general-education requirement encourages Penn State students to explore new ideas and approaches to discovery and to integrate that knowledge with their areas of academic and professional specialization.