Build Your Own Adventure With APU’s Games and Interactive Media Degree

by Micaela Ricaforte '20

The gaming industry is growing at a rapid pace, changing the way we engage with entertainment. Developing successful video games means building new worlds, creating characters, and crafting compelling stories. Beginning fall 2019, students can explore the intersection of faith and this dynamic field by enrolling in Azusa Pacific’s new Games and Interactive Media major. Students will learn to build various types of games from a well-rounded curriculum that integrates narrative, game mechanics, art, sound and more.

Develop Creative and Strategic Skills

“The demand for a program like this in higher ed––and in the industry––is immense, and we’re excited to step into this space,” said Tim Samoff, MFA, program director. “Games and Interactive Media is a comprehensive program that begins with the fundamentals and ends with a professional-level game made by a student-led development team. Students will learn the history, culture, business, and theory of games, as well as the production process for game concepts, pitching ideas, and making both tabletop and digital games.”

Samoff described the type of student that can excel in this program. “Game designers are creative, dedicated, detail oriented, and have very high expectations for both themselves and their games. Of course, those who make games also understand the value of fun as well! We’re looking for people who aren’t afraid to put their ideas down on paper—no matter how wacky they might be—and stand behind those ideas and ultimately, bring them to life.”

During the application process, prospective students are asked to submit a "Video Game Proposal" or "Original Game or Project."

Get Involved In A Growing Industry

The game industry generates more than $100 billion in revenue each year, with the United States making up more than $36 billion of that total. "Video game designer" was ranked on CNN Money's 2017 Best Jobs in America, reporting a median salary of $81,600 and a 10-year job growth of 13 percent.

A Games and Interactive Media degree will provide students with a wide skill set to work in various positions in the rapidly-growing industries of game design and interactive media. Those who receive a B.A. in this program have the opportunity to become game or level designers, producers, or junior level game programmers. Students may also choose to add a minor or add the gaming program as a minor.

Interactive media expands beyond traditional video games to include smartphone applications, virtual reality, Esports, multiplayer games, and more. Samoff gave some examples of possible career pathways. “If a student majors in Games and Interactive Media and minors in computer science, they can get a job as a mid-level game programmer,” he said. “If a student minors in English, they could get a job as a narrative designer. A minor in art would be great for a game or concept artist.”

Students will also have a chance to be mentored by Christian faculty who have connections with video game companies like Blizzard, EA, and Square Enix. APU’s proximity to the multimedia industry hub of Los Angeles boosts internships and full-time employment opportunities after graduation.

Tell Meaningful Stories

The entertainment and interactive media industry needs people with a commitment to quality storytelling. The first of its kind among the 140 universities that comprise the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, APU is committed to helping students become not only game makers, but game changers. Samoff said he thinks that the Christian experience has the potential to inspire many unique ideas in game design. “As Christians, we understand the value of story—our own personal narratives as well as the Grand Narrative,” Samoff said. “This is a central philosophy of our program.”

Micaela Ricaforte is a public relations intern in the Office of University Relations. She is a double major in journalism and honors humanities.