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Developing video and computer games in higher education

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 business commentator

Dallas, TX – No doubt about it, video and computer games are a growing business. It's an industry that generates over $6 billion in sales. No wonder higher education is considering it as a degree. But can it do so while the moral controversy looms overhead? I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Middays.

This week's Austin Business Journal reports that the University of Texas and Austin Community College are contemplating setting up separate gaming-related academic programs. At the University of Baltimore, you can major in it. The University of North Texas already has curriculum in it.

For Austin, it's a natural move. There are over thirty game-development studios there. With most of the high-tech industry grasping to stay alive, game development is standing solid. My comment, ya so. Since the introduction of video games in 1970, violence has been the predominant action. As the technology progressed, so has the violence. Computer and video games have been blamed for the evolving aggressive nature of our kids. But the proof is thin. Not ALL kids who play video games develop a violent temperament. You decide.

Here's an abridged version of one of the most popular games in the market, Grand Theft Auto 3, GTA3 for Playstation. The technology is said to be groundbreaking on all levels. Everyone's nuts about it. So, GTA3 establishes a back-story about you being a small-time crook, you escape jail, and now you need to steal a car. Your "missions include driving a prostitute around town, beating people up, killing people, delivering a 'stiff,' setting bombs, bribing police and other day-to-day activities of organized crime. Successful completion of missions provides you with money and enables you to climb the gang hierarchy."

Now the question is being asked. Does the violent subject matter outweigh the hours of pleasure? Does the negative attitude towards women offset the sheer enjoyment?

Starting a curriculum for development of these games might be just what's called for. And the prerequisite "How can we show respect for one another in a video game?" For KERA Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

 

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 p.m. To contact Maxine Shapiro, please send emails to mshapiro@kera.org.