EKU has state’s 1st video game design program

RICHMOND (AP) — Eastern Kentucky University is offering the state’s first degree in video game design.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the Gaming Institute has enrolled 100 students who are expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a concentration in interactive media.

The institute includes a $60,000 motion capture studio, lined with 14 cameras. Students have used it to turn the school’s Daniel Boone statue into a dancing, marching, moving figure.

Computer science professor George Landon leads the institute. He said the program is filling a need.

Student Thomas John Botkins says programing games is not just play, it requires high level math and engineering skills.

“A lot of people want to do this, but a lot of them can’t do the math required to get the degree,” he said.

Botkins recently teamed up with Olivia Hornbeck and Sean Buckner for a Game Jam, in which the students were given 48 hours to develop a working game. They created Fallen Angel, in which an angel tries to get to heaven by jumping onto moving clouds while avoiding an enormous demon hand trying to grab it.

“We’re learning how to score our own music, doing audio engineering, and expanding our artistic and technical skills,” Buckner said.

The students say it is becoming possible to work in Kentucky as a game developer. For instance, RunJumpDev is a Lexington nonprofit that fosters the local game development scene. And RalphVR, maker of the Daydream Blue virtual reality game, includes Eastern Kentucky and University of Kentucky graduates and will be based in Lexington.

“Fifteen years ago you had to go to L.A.,” Hornbeck said. “That has really changed in past years.”

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