Gamers, learn how to make playing pay up

Addicted to Halo? Always wanted to know how Call of Duty makes those explosions so realistic? Saint Joseph’s University has a new certificate program with your name on it.

The video game animation and graphics certificate program, offered through the school’s College of Professional and Liberal Studies, combines the technical and artistic aspects of video game creation. It’s designed to teach aspiring animators from scratch — so don’t worry if you have an artist’s eye but can’t tell the difference between Maya software and 3ds Max.

“We bring them through all the technical aspects, starting from nothing,” says associate professor George Grevera, the program coordinator. “The work is interdisciplinary: There’s the technical component, the aesthetic component and, in some games, even a strong music component as well.”

On the other hand, if someone does come in with an advanced computer-science background: “We’ll waive some of the rudimentary requirements,” Grevera adds.

Classes cover game design, 3-D modeling and animation for use on characters, creatures and cars — as well as “texture image manipulation” with Photoshop. It takes about a year of part-time study to complete them all.

While you may not land your dream job with a major name like Electronic Arts, the industry includes plenty of smaller “mom and pop” companies that put out simpler games, Grevera says. In addition, large technology corporations often seek to hire those trained in animation software.

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