Journal Record features national gaming award

Jeff Price
Jeff Price

The Journal Record featured Oklahoma Christian University's recognition by The Princeton Review as of the best undergraduate schools in North America to study video game design.

OC receives nod for video game studies
By Brian Brus
The Journal Record

Sometimes it can seem as though academic studies at Oklahoma Christian University are all fun and games, associate professor Jeff Price said.

That’s as it should be, actually. The university recently earned an honorable mention on The Princeton Review’s list of best undergraduate schools in North America to study video game design.

The annual list named 15 undergraduate schools and 15 runners-up. It was the only Oklahoma school and one of two in the Southwest to make the list.

“We’ve completely revamped the degree program for this area over the last four years, and it’s nice to see someone noticed,” said Price, who teaches animation and design. “When I came here four years ago, we held back 3-D modeling until senior year, which just isn’t enough time to master it well enough to make games. Now they’re modeling in 3-D their freshman year. It’s really enhanced the degree option and made it more valuable.”

The Princeton Review based its list on criteria such as curricula, faculty, facilities, financial aid and career services.

This year the review partnered with PC Gamer magazine, which will feature the rankings in its May issue to be published in early April.

The recognition is valuable marketing for the school, Price said. Potential students visiting the school still mention an earlier version of the list from 2010, in which OC was ranked in the top 50 of about 500 schools. Price said OC will probably ramp up its advertising for the program to attract students who might not otherwise consider a Christian university.

Price said the OC gaming and animation curriculum includes gaming and animation history, technical skills classes covering about 30 software programs and studio classes to develop their own games. However, the skills that students learn won’t pigeonhole them in the entertainment industry - although that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, given the wide range of media such as movies, smartphone applications and technology still evolving.

“This can take them into military simulation, scientific data visualization working with doctors, the education field, product designs, or even architecture and sales,” he said. “One of our students works with a homebuilder to do visualizations for the types of houses they can build.”

Price said he remembers being reprimanded in his first computer programming class in Mustang High School on the west side of the metro area in the 1980s.

“He got onto me because we were supposed to be writing a program to calculate the interest rate on a car lot, while I was making an interactive game like Dark Tower with branching storylines,” Price said. “I think we can see where the industry went with that.”