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University Alliance Promotes Discipline of Play

Could there be a cabinet post for a "czar of play" in this country's future? If the newly formed Higher Education Video Game Alliance has its way, that could happen — right along with the Bureau of Labor Statistics starting to keep track of people working in the games industry and researchers performing analyses of the state of play alongside other sectors such as health, education and technology.

The new alliance has drawn 26 institutional members, including Washington, D.C.'s American University, Arizona State, Massachusetts' Becker College and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York, to promote the impact of video game programs in education. Members expect to share and publicize best practices, do research, raise funding, form industry connections and educate policymakers and the media.

According to the alliance, 381 colleges, universities and trade schools across the country include video game design as part of their curriculum. Of that number, 55 have associate's degrees, 226 have bachelor's degrees, 46 have master's degrees, and four have doctoral programs.

The organization will be run by Constance Steinkuehler, a former senior policy analyst from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Steinkuehler is also an associate professor in digital media at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a co-director of the Games+Learning+Society center at the university's Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

"By coming together as an alliance, I believe that we will better showcase the critical role that video game programs play in educating and preparing students for the 21st century workforce," said Andrew Phelps, a professor and founder of RIT's School of Interactive Games and Media and director of RIT's Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC) center.

"The Alliance will give Becker faculty an opportunity to share their expertise with other game professionals," said Paul Cotnoir, director of Becker's interactive media program. "Academic discourse of this sort allows faculty to examine ideas and evidence rigorously in order to acquire a better understanding of the subject."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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