Creating a video game

Monday December 12 2011


The character on the screen is running up an incline, trying to outrun rising water as he avoids boulders and other obstacles hurtling at him.

"The boulders are too slow," one student complains, while another starts tinkering with the code to speed it up.

Such conversations and interactions are commonplace in Lynchburg College's gaming class, taught by Dr. Will Briggs, professor of computer science.

Jeremy Hachey '14 said his job was to work on the rendering -- the way the game actually looks. "I want to get into game design," he said. "That's why I am majoring in computer science."

LC ranked as one of the 50 best undergraduate institutions in the U.S. and Canada for studying game design, according to The Princeton Review's "Top 50 Undergraduate Game Design Programs" 2010 list. The list was developed in partnership with GamePro, one of the top publications in the video game industry, reaching more than three million gamers a month.

Dr. Briggs started teaching a games class in 2001 to introduce graphics work into LC's computer science major.

"From the students' perspective, the class is about making cool games," he said, "but from an educational perspective, the class focuses on 3-D graphics, sound, and user interaction. Even more importantly, they learn to work on large projects in teams."

Bernard Davis '13 said he learned a lot in the class, including how to make characters move and toggle switches work. His real interest is hardware. "I want to build actual computers," he said.

Karla Inge '12, the only female in the class of eight computer science majors, organized the end-of-semester presentation. She said the hardest part was figuring out how much they could actually accomplish in just one semester. "We finished twelve minutes before we walked in," she said at the presentation.

Michael Holt, a 2009 graduate of LC's computer science program, said the gaming class helped him prepare for life after college. After graduation, he took a position as a software engineer at VGT (Video Gaming Technologies) in Charlottesville, Va., working on the server side of gaming technology. He said the collaborative work in Dr. Briggs' class has helped the most in that job.

Learn more about LC's computer science program.