Profiles of Game Management Programs & Schools

2K Sports

I interviewed Jerson Sapida a producer at 2K Sports who has been working on the NBA 2K series since its early years on Xbox and PS2. I asked him his thoughts on making it as a producer for a sports development studio and his career experiences.

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Mocap Suit

Sports games have been a staple of the video game industry since the birth of the home console. From Tecmo Bowl to Madden, the scale of sports games has undergone a massive change and requires very large teams to develop each iteration year after year. Gamers have come to expect their favorite sports stars and teams to look and behave exactly like their real life counterparts thanks to the power of the current generation consoles. This level of detail takes tons of resources and time, but one thing that never changes is the year time frame the game needs to be completed in. By the start of each sports season, developers need to wrap up their changes and get the game on store shelves to meet important deadlines and cash in on the excitement. Because of the unique timeframe constraints, sports game studios usually run a bit differently when compared with your average console developers that get 2 to 3 years to finish a game.

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There are many paths into game design and development, but most aspiring designers gain a foothold by beginning in Quality Assurance, commonly known as QA, where the bulk of video game testing is done. Some common questions:

What skills do you need for an entry-level Quality Assurance (QA) job? 

A good QA analyst needs to have an attention to detail to catch bugs, and the problem-solving skills to replicate these issues and to identify any relationships between errors.

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Do you have aspirations to become a game designer on a game like God of War, Mortal Combat, or Devil May Cry? Well then you’re really looking at becoming what is called a combat designer in most studios these days. Combat designers should know the inner workings of great fighting games like Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Mortal Kombat. The combat systems in these games are very complex and have stood the test of time for good reason. Although games like God of War are not straight up "fighting" games, they borrow from these systems to make the player controls feel tight and fun. Having passion for fighting games is a big plus. If you've been involved with the popular EVO tournaments then combat design is probably your type of gig.

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Top 100 Most Influential Video Games of All Time

I’ve been professionally writing about the game, film, and tech industries for six years. With a degree in 3D graphics for game art and design, I have seen, studied, and experienced every aspect of the 2D and 3D video game industry, and am currently working on my first Droid and iPhone game. After hunting down every forgotten chapter of gaming’s past and researching over a thousand famously influential games from every entertainment era, I gathered feedback from dozens of experts before deciding on the final hundred that made the cut. Games were judged on how influential they were on designers of their time, how they directed the industry’s future, and how they changed the gamer community and human culture itself.

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So you've decided to turn the permanent dents in your thumbs from game controller buttons into a career? Well played sir (or ma'am), well played. 

The world of video game design however is more cut-throat than Resident Evil, so you'll need some help to navigate that world. And where do you find that help? In resources.

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Game Design/Development Training Without Moving Away From Home 

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Below is a list of California schools that offer game art, game design, and game development degree programs:

Academy of Art University, San Francisco
Programs available: A. A., B. F. A., M. F. A. Animation and Visual Effects;
B. F. A., M. F. A. Game Design; A. A., B. F. A., M. F. A. Graphic Design; A.
A., B. F. A., M. F. A. Illustration

The Art Institutes, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Ana, North Hollywood, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Sunnyvale, San Diego
Programs available: Game Art & Design (BA), Game Art & Design (BS), Graphic Design (AS) (BS) (AAS), Computer Animation (MFA), Media Arts & Animation (BA), Visual Effects & Motion Graphics (BA), Visual Effects & Motion Graphics (BS)

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At Animation Career Review we have published dozens of articles detailing the different types of degree programs available in animation, design, gaming, and related fields. Each article defines the program, details the typical coursework involved and notes the type of career paths available to someone with that particualr degree. Bookmark this handy dandy list for future use.

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