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Champlain College makes list for top game design schools

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 8:24 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The game development program at Champlain College has been around since 2004, but in recent years it has been expanding and gaining attention. Now, the program has been recognized by the Princeton Review as one of the best in the country, ranked 17th out of 50 undergrad programs.

Former grads and other fans say it’s what the program is actually doing that is drawing new students in year after year.

“Champlain is a very practical, very career-focused program,” said alumnus Scott Barrett, who now works for Ubisoft Montreal.

Barrett says that helped him land his job.

“Whatever your field is, they train you to get good at that very quick,” he said.

That, combined with good campus culture, has landed Champlain College on the Princeton Review’s list of top schools for the field of Game Development for nine years. The program at Champlain is made up of six majors, all with a common thread.

“We focus a lot on practical applied work in all of the majors. We have theory, but for the most part, it’s about let’s make it, let’s build it, let’s publish it. For our collaborative curriculum, we focus on experiential learning and all those soft skills you need to be successful in the workplace like communication and self-management,” said Amanda Crispel, the assistant dean of game development.

She says since the industry is constantly evolving, so does the curriculum, meaning students are prepared for life after college.

“We have seen great success in where they go and what they accomplish,” Crispel said.

“Basically, any major company I hear about, I am confident I could email someone and within one or two steps, just know someone that I already know,” said Barrett.

He says it was that network of relationships that made Champlain feel different. And while the technical skills he learned are crucial for jobs, teamwork is everything in the field.

“So I had already had like three years at least once or twice a year working with a group to develop a game in a pretty short amount of time,” he said.

Even since graduating in 2016, Barrett says the field has continued to grow. It is expanding into fields like simulation, aerospace, virtual reality and even tech for self-driving cars. He says it was only a matter of time and Champlain game development grads are ready.

“They have been pushing boundaries in games literally since games have come into existence, so it’s not too surprising that people are taking how far the boundaries have been pushed there and applying it in other places,” he said.

Barrett says for the same reason other schools are highly rated in other fields, Champlain finds success in the game studio.

“All the students are excited for it, all the professors are excited about it, it’s what we are here for we can’t wait to do it, and it’s just that translated to games,” he said.

Coming in May, seniors from the program will be showing off their designs in a live stream over Twitch.

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