Playing the Field

Video game industry hopefuls could benefit from partnership, exposure

By Brittney Coulter

The Baylor Game Club is partnering with gaming industry executives in order to give students a competitive edge as they enter the world of video game development after graduation.

In previous years, the club served as a forum for students to discuss games and their cultural impact, but this year the focus is a more hands-on approach to exploring games.

Dr. Corey Carbonara, a professor in the film and digital media department and adviser for the club, said he is excited about the club’s recent partnerships with industry leaders, which will allow club members to receive valuable feedback and hands-on experience with professionals.

“The industry connections with the game club [are] providing students with a tremendous opportunity to get a total experience with true industry players that they can put on their resume,” Carbonara said.

Gearbox Software has agreed to partner with the club. The company is an award-winning independent developer of interactive entertainment based in Plano that has worked with successful game franchises such as Halo, Tony Hawk and James Bond, names familiar to members of the club.

Carbonara and members of the club spoke with Aaron Thibault, vice president of product development for Gearbox Software Oct. 12 at the Austin Game Developing Conference.

“Mr. Thibault was highly generous with his time and gave us a couple of hours of full focus, not only working on directives of interfacing with the knowledge base of industry professionals, but also expanding out to look at other companies such as Sony [and] Microsoft in particular,” Carbonara said.

The game club has also been invited to participate in a competition sponsored by Microsoft that allows students to experiment with new approaches to game creation and development.

Carbonara has high hopes for the results that could come of the industry involvement.

“When you start to think about that involvement for the game club, that’s pretty awesome,” Carbonara said. “It’s going to be real tangible things with real executives that will allow students to kind of put some novel solutions on some of the problems that they’re facing as an industry.”

Houston senior Tyler Walker, a game club officer, joined when the club started in 2007. He expressed excitement for the new direction the club is taking.

“I think it’s an amazing opportunity and something we’ve needed for quite some time,” Walker said. “Working with actual industry professionals and getting feedback from them on what we’re doing gives everyone motivation to actually get going and work on stuff more.”

The recent steps taken by the club coincide with exposure received (PDF) by the video game development program in the computer science department, including acknowledgement by the state for the program’s innovative approach which combines classes in both film and digital media and computer science.

Frank Gibeau, president of Electronic Arts, a major player in the game development industry, also recognized Baylor’s efforts. He cited innovative programs provided by area schools like Baylor as a primary resource for creating more jobs in the Central Texas area.

“What the president of EA talked about was the amount of quality educational programs directed towards developing students who have an emphasis in understanding how to make games,” Carbonara said. “He mentioned Baylor [and] it made us feel pretty good.”

The club holds official meetings two to three times a year, but members spend most of their time involved in development groups that are organized by officers and faculty to help members develop their ideas.

“If someone has an idea for something, we try to help them get people that might be interested in it as well to work on it,” Walker said.

The club intends to hold an official meeting soon, and new members are welcome to attend. Students are encouraged to join the mailing list by emailing