Princeton Review Ranks Becker College Among Its Top 10 Video Game Design Programs

Published on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Becker College is once again ranked among the top 10 on The Princeton Review’s list saluting the best undergraduate schools in the U.S. and Canada at which to study video game design. Since its 2010 ranking, Becker has increased enrollment, expanded its curriculum and acquired a new building to house its students, academic program and a video game institute.

The Princeton Review, one of America’s best-known education services companies, salutes 30 institutions (15 undergraduate and 15 graduate) for their outstanding game design education programs, including Becker College at number 10 and Worcester Polytechnic Institute at number 6. Reported in the April GamePro magazine, the list is also accessible on the websites of The Princeton Review and GamePro.

“With Becker College and WPI both in Princeton Review’s top ten game design schools in the nation, Worcester, Mass. has clearly emerged as a powerhouse in interactive media design education. We are leading the nation, we are setting the standard.” said Paul D. Cotnoir, Ph.D., chair, Bachelor of Arts in Design.

“What distinguishes Becker from other schools is the emphasis on combining art and technical skills with psychology and history, storytelling and ethics—all the elements of a good game,” said Terrasa Ulm, instructor of design. “From the first day, students step into an amazing social and academic community within the program and essentially become an informal independent company, living and working in the same residence hall. This camaraderie is truly motivational and does wonders for productivity.”

Internships involve video game development students in the community and give them valuable portfolio experience. Becker students are being considered for an internship project with American Science and Engineering (ASE), to build software and to develop simulation training for cargo x-ray scanning inspection machines.

Becker student-created games teaching school bus safety, and history, are in use by the UMass Medical School-City of Worcester Mobile Safety Street Bus, Old Sturbridge Village and the Danforth Museum, with similar projects in the works for the Worcester Historical Museum and the Why Not Stop Project. Students have also shared their skills with the Easter Seals and Center for Living and Working’s Tech Savvy Group and helped build game development communities in local public high schools.

Student work will also be showcased at the Becker College booth at the game festival, PAX East, now in its second year in Boston, March 11-13 at the Boston Convention Center. IDA (Infection Detection Assistant) is a series of mini mobile games that students integrated into the PAX East experience; players solve puzzles in search of a cure for an unknown contagion that has infected the public.

Alumni of the video game programs at Becker have gone on to work for numerous entertainment companies such as Harmonix, Blizzard and Blue Fang Games, as well as in other digital technology applications for John Hancock, the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Army.

Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray announced last December that Massachusetts would create a Video Game Institute, to be hosted at Becker College, and he challenged Becker to work with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative John Adams Innovation Institute and a cross section of industry, government and academia to create a plan that will include strategies for statewide academic cooperation, economic development and job creation.

Robert Franek, Princeton Review senior vice president and publisher, said, “We salute Becker College for its commitment to the field of video game design study and the innovative program it offers. For students aspiring to work in this burgeoning field, and for the companies that will need their creative talents and trained skills, we hope this project will serve as a catalyst for many successful connections.”

Marci Yamaguchi Hughes, President of GamePro Media said, “There are now more colleges and universities than ever focusing on game development, and graduate school has become a viable option for game design. Game design study is an incredibly relevant subject for our readers, especially given the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC), which showcases the real-world application of this education.”