NYU and NY Poly Create Collaborative Game Development School

Move over, Californian game schools. New York University is stepping up.

This fall, New York University plans to join forces with Polytechnic Institute of New York and open a 40,000 square-foot academic space devoted solely to the combined universities’ game development program in downtown Brooklyn. The new Media and Games Network (or MAGNET) center will be home to a budding interdisciplinary program that mingles the efforts of both schools in things like game design, coding, artistic theory.

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The new multi-school cluster will co-locate teaching and research programs in games as a creative art form, game design, digital media design, computer science, and engineering – with each program retaining its department affiliation and school identity. It will include undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students from NYU and NYU-Poly. It will serve as the first space at NYU to co-locate faculty from different schools – including NYU-Poly, which will become the school of engineering at NYU in 2014 – creating a shared facility for collaborative teaching and research.

The ultimate location for the school seemed like a no-brainer to its collaborative faculty, especially Katherine Isbister, associate professor of Computer Science and Engineering and research director of NYU-Poly’s Center of Innovation for Technology and Entertainment Game Innovation Lab

Brooklyn has a vibrant arts and independent gaming community that already participates in many events at the NYU-Poly Game Innovation Lab. Having MAGNET in place will bring a much larger and diverse group of students and faculty into the mix, creating even more cross-traffic between Brooklyn indies, artists, and start-ups and the NYU/NYU-Poly community. Downtown Brooklyn is one of those places where space is cheaper. There’s an intersection of worlds and a quirkiness that was there 20 years ago in Manhattan, but is getting harder and harder to find.”

The goal of the new MAGNET center is primarily collaborative, created to bring students, faculty and other developers together to share resources available to both schools. The lab environment was designed to bring students sufficient “power and data infrastructure to support gallery-like shows, research studies, and student projects; classrooms equipped with instructional technology; and specialized spaces for audio engineering, motion capture, and digital arts.”

The specific collaborative programs housed in the MAGNET school are:

Graduate programs in Game Design (MFA, Tisch); Games for Learning (MS), Digital Media Design for Learning (MA), and Educational Communications and Technology (Ph.D.) and Integrated Digital Media (MS, NYU-Poly). …Undergraduate majors in Integrated Digital Media (BS, NYU-Poly) and minors in Game Engineering (Computer Science and Engineering, NYU-Poly).

The new MAGNET school will allow for significant expansion within the gaming program at NYU, which started six years ago as a handful of elective classes. Now, the program hopes to admit nearly fifty MFA students with the space the new facility allows, and to expand the program to radical dimensions to encourage students’ free will in creating technology-based video games to  board games and everything in between–essentially only limited by imagination.

With the creation of the MAGNET school, it’s interesting to ponder the economic benefits that the surrounding areas of downtown Brooklyn might see. The addition of game-related advanced degrees in already-heavily STEM schools can only mean good things for New York (and the entire east coast). Ideally, this will allow for growth in development on the other side of the country, which typically has to compete with the lure of Silicon Valley giants. “It means more entrepreneurs and folks with a penchant and proclivity for digital arts and media sciences,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (a local development corporation) told the Wall Street Journal.

Ken Perlin, director of the Games for Learning Institute and professor of computer science hopes the combined program will work to benefit the entire industry of game culture. “This is truly a rare opportunity to break down the walls that too often divide technology and the arts.”

Header image copyright Wall Street Journal.


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