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Wake Tech gaming students very serious about making fun

Posted June 20, 2008
Updated June 21, 2008

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— Let the games begin!

The world of digital gaming comes alive on Wake Technical Community College’s main campus this weekend. That’s where students are sharpening their skills to fill high-demand positions.

In a few months, Ryan Snell will graduate from Wake Tech. The result of his two years of higher education? A video game set in a flower garden.

"You actually have to keep these rabid bunnies away from stealing your flowers and another bunny who comes over and mows over your flowers," Snell explained.

The game is child's play, but the work behind it and other games is anything but simple. In his simulation and game-design courses, Snell has studied math, physics, history and programming.

"When people actually play it and they get into it, and they are like, ‘That is fun’ – that is an exhilarating feeling," Snell said.

In a two-day digital game expo at Wake Tech, Snell and other students will give potential employers the controls. Students hope to win jobs. The average salary after three years experience? Around $70,000 a year.

"It is one of the fastest-growing industries in the Triangle area," Walter D. Rotenberry, an instructor in the Simulation and Game Development program, said.

There are only about 10 students in the games program’s first graduating class. The number of job openings? Closer to 200.

More than 40 gaming companies have offices in this area, and more are on the way. It is a billion- dollar industry that is hungry for fresh, young minds, and the first students to graduate from the new simulation and gaming program will walk across the stage in a couple months.

"I think I have gotten just about all of our graduates already placed for jobs starting in the fall," Rotenberry said.

The instructor says more students are signing up for the courses than he has space to accommodate. After all – who doesn't want to make a living out of making games?

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