My New Game Development Course at Tufts

by Ming Chow

Related link: http://www.cs.tufts.edu/~mchow/excollege/s2006



I have returned to Tufts University to teach a new course Introduction to Game Development this semester. I am excited and fortunate for another teaching opportunity. Last year, I taught "Security, Privacy, and Politics in the Computer Age" at Tufts University, and it was a tremendous success. Teaching the course was a most rewarding and flattering opportunity for me. My course evaulation was very good. The students appreciated the applicable value of the course, and it gave them an exposure to the "tech culture" (most of the students were non-technical). Many of the students expressed that they wanted more technical content. Finally, the Tufts Experimental College asked students what courses they would like to see in the future, and many said a course on game development.



My experiences with computer graphics, networking, databases, software engineering, HCI/user interfaces, and algorithms, will all come in handy. My past development of several small games will certainly be valuable as well. When I was a Computer Science student at Tufts, most of the courses offered were theory-based and very few implementation-based. I always questioned the value of what I was learning, and how could I put everything that I learned together. That is the beauty of game development: it requires all facets of Computer Science. I wished that such a course was offered to me when I was a student, and this is a major reason why I am teaching the course back at my alma mater. Already, my course is filled. Several students said that they appreciate that I am teaching such a course at Tufts.



I will be using Java in the course, not C/C++. Why? Two reasons: portability and cost. I do not have a computer lab for the course, and not all students have Windows PCs. Most of the Java development tools, including the SDK and Eclipse, are free as in free beer, so students can do their work from their PC in their dorm room. Many students said that they know C/C++ so I'll spend two days giving a Java crash course. And yes, I know that Killer Game Programming in Java will be vital resource for me and my class.



I welcome any insights or concerns. All the lectures, assignments, examples, and resources are available on the course website at http://www.cs.tufts.edu/~mchow/excollege/s2006/. Please feel free to follow my course online.