Two of the most common responses I get when I tell people I’m majoring in Computer Science Games are 1) “Oh so you do game design?” and 2) “So you must really play a lot of games”. And while a decent answer to both of these questions is yes, it’s not what CS Games is really about. I thought I’d write a post and give some insight as to what my major actually is, and very importantly why I chose it.
Computer Science (Games) is one of the options in the larger computer science umbrella of Viterbi along with Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, and Computer Science and Business Administration. The program focuses on getting computer science students classes in game development.
As a CS Games major, you don’t lose out on a great Computer Science education. Check out the Viterbi Handbook and see that the course requirements are not wildly different to regular Computer Science. While it is true that I take a few classes through the School of Cinematic Arts and it’s important for me to understand game design, it’s a different program and doesn’t cover all the same topics as the Interactive Media and Game Design major in the film school. Instead, the majority of my games courses focus on computer science in relation to game development, in addition to having opportunities to work on projects with people from the film school. Some required CS games classes include ITP 380: Video Game Programming, ITP 485: Programming Game Engines, CTIN 484: Intermediate Game Development, and CSCI 423: Native Console Multiplayer Game Development.
I had a long-time passion for games before coming to USC. I had tried out programming and development in high school and knew I loved it. When I was researching programs USC came up as having the #1 games program multiple times so of course I had to come. In my experience, the games community has been really amazing. The CS Games majors often work with students in the School of Cinematic Arts to make high quality and really fun games. I think it’s really cool that both schools play an important part in the development process for both programs.
There’s nothing more satisfying then seeing a game prototype come together over a course of the weekend in a game jam, or just experimenting in a game engine to see what you can build. Through the program I’ve been exposed to things like developing for Virtual and Augmented Reality which I look forward to pursuing more in the future. Yes, I do love games and make the time to play them, but at the end of the day it’s more important to me to get to make fun ideas come to life, all for my undergraduate education.