Games go Global at Becker College

Published on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Yuya2 520x350The emphasis of a Becker College education is firmly rooted in the transformative power of creative thought, inquiry, and self-discovery. Becker interactive media design programs—video games and more—teach graduates not only to seek personal and professional success within the context of their chosen major, but also to contribute to a greater good in a global society. The well-documented uses of video games to teach, heal, create art, entertain, simulate, and solve large-scale intractable problems have the power to positively transform our world.

“Becker College’s brand of game design education has a definitely global flavor—from study abroad, to Japanese language courses, to a curricular framework which permeates almost all classes in the major–and  the making of global game designers is a key element of the Becker College game design experience,” says Paul D. Cotnoir, Ph.D., director of design programs at Becker. “The fact that Becker students graduate as global citizens implies not only a working knowledge of a diverse set of tools aimed at multi-national competence, but also signals a deep commitment to social justice.”

“During my years teaching [Modern Japanese Society] at Becker, I tried to harness my students’ passion for Japanese pop culture–namely anime and manga–and tried to show them how all of it was influenced by centuries of Japanese history,” says David Curewitz, former adjunct instructor. “As an educator, I found nothing more rewarding than to see, read, and hear how students realized that the media they have enjoyed for much of their lives was influenced by people who lived thousands of miles away who, in turn, were influenced by centuries of events that they had never known about before.”

“A global perspective is undeniably a necessary part of a comprehensive curriculum in interactive media design,” emphasizes Dr. Cotnoir. “For instance, video game designs must have cultural, linguistic, and graphic relevance in order to be successful on a large scale. Only those game properties which demonstrate such relevance will find markets in Japan, South Korea, China, and Europe as well as the United States. This is especially true for mobile applications, where the U.S. is not the largest market sector.”

Yuya Takeda (pictured above and right), from Osaka, Japan, is in his second year at Becker, studying psychology and teaching Japanese language within the Becker Department of Humanities and Yuya3 380x560Languages. “Language learning is a cumulative process, and as an instructor I can see the process very clearly. It is enormously exciting for me to see students’ progress and growth,” says Takeda-sensei.

Takeda-sensei went on to describe a sense of responsibility that Becker faculty share for their students. “As much as possible, I try to bring into the classroom real-life situations that people are likely to face in Japanese society. If I am successful, some students will actually go to Japan or establish connections with people in Japan by using the knowledge and skills they acquire from my course.”

Game design student Erin McWay ’15 took advantage of the study abroad program at Becker to attend Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka.

“Going to Japan was one of the best experiences of my life; I met so many new people and experienced things I never could while in America,” says McWay. “I think studying abroad has given me a new perspective on how what I’m studying relates to people outside of America, and even how [game design] might be seen differently [in other countries].”

Interactive media design students have expanded international connections for themselves by establishing a chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) at Becker. The host IGDA offers such opportunities as the Global Game Jam, a weekend-long work session for developers around the globe to gather together to create new games. The Becker IGDA chapter launched a website and publishes the IGDA Chronicle, which includes interviews from industry professionals and local developers, event information, and student work.

An important component of all the majors at Becker College is to prepare students for the global workforce, whether their future job is in downtown Boston or downtown Tokyo. Students are learning the benefits of thinking globally, even if they are acting locally. Becker College graduates will be well prepared to pursue a career in their chosen field and successfully work as a socially conscious citizen of the globalized world, whether they are developing video games, running businesses, or creating effective multi-national policies.