Teachers at New York University are giving kids a reason to go to school this summer — and look forward to it — with their second annual Video Game Camp.
Program organizers point out, however, that those who think the course is all fun and ... well ... games are mistaken.
"The kids who sign up for this summer course aren't the types that sit in front of a video-game screen all day — they are doers," camp director Nicole Tecco said. "These kids are more likely to build computers, create music on their PCs, and design their own clothes in their free time."
For about $5,000, students take rigorous courses including History of Gaming, Economics of the Gaming Industry, and Games and Violence. The four-week program also includes perks like field trips to video game production studios, pizza parties and a fierce competition at the end of camp in which two teams of students are pitted against each another to see who can create a more engaging video game.
"Last year we saw the most beautiful games created by both teams," Tecco recalled. "You'd be surprised how technologically savvy the younger kids are. They're really up on their game."
Tecco designed elements of the coursework to emulate a real-world video-game company in order to help pre-college and first-year college students decide whether or not gaming is the right major for them to pursue in college.
"It's horrible to go to college for something and then realize that you hate it once you try to get a job in that field," she said. Tecco creates this "real world" environment by hiring industry veterans to teach the courses, which she feels helps the students make connections that could lead to a career. Some of last year's participants, she noted, were asked to help create an online Volvo commercial.
Although the response from students has been overwhelmingly positive, Tecco admits some parents are concerned that their children are going to sit inside all summer and stare at a computer screen. Although this is true for the most part, Tecco insists the students are "loving it."
"They are so engaged when they are here," she said. "These kids are the real deal."
The program runs from July 5 to August 5 at NYU and is open to students age 14-21.