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February 04, 2013

Earn your Game Design Degree in Fewer than Two Years

Tribeca Flashpoint Academy students explore the history of games at The Galloping Ghost arcade.
Tribeca Flashpoint Academy students explore the history of games at The Galloping Ghost arcade.
Chicago - Gamers of the world get psyched -- the Tribeca Flashpoint Academy Game + Interactive Media program provides game lovers the launchpad they need to land a career in the fast-growing field of game design and interactive media.
TFA’s intensive, hands-on curriculum allows students to earn a direct-to-industry associate degree in just two years, along with a portfolio of real-world project work and professional collaboration. 
“Getting my name in the credits of a fully developed and eventually published game       in my first year of school is more than I ever could have imagined,” said Patrick Purcell, a Game + Interactive Media student who collaborated in the development of Avarice, a high-speed, customizable combat game released on Steam this summer.
Through access to state-of-the-art media technology and instruction by industry professionals, students learn to build full-fledged game systems from the ground up.
“The real hard thing to find is people that are well-trained and prepared to take on this field,” Steve Gradman of gaming startup Kaboom told CBS news of Tribeca students. “They’re ready to go right out of the gate and what’s nice is they’re use to problem solving things they don’t know.”
TFA looks at gaming not just as a pastime activity, but as the full range of dynamic technologies that shape how we learn and interact with the world around us, with student projects ranging from commercial video games to military and medical training programs.
“The curriculum is designed to introduce students to the four main disciplines that are part of game development: programming, art, design and production,” said Nick Ehrlich, chair of Game and Interactive Media. “Every student is exposed to all four of those disciplines their first year so they really have an opportunity to experience it. Once they have that experience, in their second year they actually choose which of those disciplines they’ll focus on and they spend their second year really locking down and putting their nose to the grindstone to become the best producer they can be.”
The TFA curriculum challenges students to develop their own creative vision while building practical skills in game design and media arts and the soft skills of teamwork and collaboration.
“Group projects in your first year may be the first opportunity you'll have to start developing the games you've been building mentally for years,” second-year Game + Interactive Media student Bretton Hamilton said.
Ehrlich emphasizes to students that “creating games for a living is not a solo endeavor,” and models TFA’s Game + Interactive Media classroom based on the collaborative environment of a professional game studio. “In a field where technical ability is widespread, it is often a candidate’s soft skills that set them apart from the pack and help them land a job,” he said.
TFA trains students to integrate the fundamentals of art, composition and color theory with the ability to code and program, all the while providing access to exclusive, professional programs like Blender for 3D modeling and GIMP that graduates will encounter when they begin their studio careers.
“Most other schools couch their game department under a computer science degree,” Ehrlich said. “Because there are four disciplines, it’s not just about programming and learning to do all the other stuff while you’re learning to be a programmer. While we do offer programming, we offer these other concentrations that are outside the realm of programming to provide students the ability to work in an industry that has more than just programmers in it.”
A venture with Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Enterprises, Tribeca Flashpoint Academy is one of the nation’s most well-respected digital and media arts colleges—offering a progressive training model that erases the boundaries between education and the professional world by exposing students to real-world, industry experiences and state-of-the-art software and equipment beginning their first semester on campus.
For more information on TFA, visit
Edward Glassman
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