New Academic Tracks Explore Game Design, Sports Communication

Guided coursework, intentional campus experiences provide academic preparation for students with career aspirations in fields of growing interest.

Alma College has created new academic tracks in game design, sports communication and sports media — fields in which students have expressed growing interest and skill development.

“Our faculty have designed these tracks in areas of existing strength, creating academic pathways that are directed and intentional,” says President Jeff Abernathy. “These are guided tracks within existing majors that span both academic coursework and out-of-classroom experiences to enhance learning and ensure that our students are prepared to enter professional positions or graduate school. We are excited to offer them to our students.”

Bringing Art, Sound, Text, Code Together Persuasively

Game Design focuses on design principles, storytelling, game writing, world building, art techniques and the programming required to create both digital and non-digital games, says Lauren Woolbright, assistant professor of new media studies. The academic emphasis encompasses courses in art, computer science, English and new media studies.

A screenshot of Linked, a video game created in NMS 101. A screenshot of Linked, a video game created in NMS 101.“Because of Alma’s small size and interdisciplinary focus, we have the ability to make well-rounded game designers,” says Woolbright. “Our track draws on expertise across academic disciplines, including history, anthropology and psychology, subjects that can influence game design and character development: Why do game characters behave the way they do?”

Students are required to complete an internship and encouraged to become involved with co-curricular groups, such as the Alma College Gaming Guild. Students also will have opportunities to attend industry and academic conferences and showcases and hear directly from game design professionals.

“We focus on collaboration and public presentation to provide opportunities for hands-on experiences and building a portfolio of work,” says Woolbright. “Our emphasis is about more than digital games. Graduates can apply their game design skills in other areas, such as interactive museum exhibit development, web content creation, graphics and environmental design.”

Building a Digital Portfolio of Sports Media Work

Sports Communication/Sports Media provides a guided pathway of study for students interested in careers in sports information, journalism, broadcasting, marketing and media. The track encompasses courses in new media studies, communication and English and gives students hands-on experiences and opportunities to build a portfolio of work.

Joey Moran, Tryone Bruce. Joey Moran, Tryone Bruce.“There is a lot of interest in sports communication, and a number of our new media studies students have gone on to careers in sports media,” says Janie Diels, associate professor of communication and new media studies. “Our sports communication/media emphasis provides a set of relevant courses and campus experiences for students who have these career aspirations.”

Students are required to complete an internship and will have opportunities for hands-on learning through partnerships with the Athletics Department, Sports Information Office, the Almanian student newspaper and other student media organizations. Students will develop portfolios of work that may include highlight reels, writing samples and photography.

Alma students have demonstrated excellence in sports communication work, winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s Tom Renner Award four consecutive years and five times since the award’s inception in 2008. The MIAA bestows the award annually to a sports information student assistant for outstanding service.

Story published on November 19, 2018