Dragging yourself to class is a whole lot easier when that class is called “Game Development for the 8-bit NES.” Taught during the Spring 2004 semester at Carnegie Mellon University (as part of a program that lets students teach other students), the class emphasized multiple elements of game design including programming, music, art, and even box design. (ROM hacks need not apply!) The mastermind behind the class was Bob Rost, 24, who holds a B.S. in Computer Science and a Masters in Entertainment Technology, and has development credits with Electronic Arts and Ritual Entertainment. Rost graciously agreed to answer a few questions for CGM about his,teaching experience.
Classic Gamer Magazine: Besides just being a fun experience, what do you think the students took away from the class that they can use in a career, life, etc?
Bob Rost: Some of the students gave me specific feedback on this. I think that everyone gained a greater appreciation for the amount of work that goes into creating a video game for any system, and the complexity involved in humble little grey boxes sitting by the TV. I know that some artists learned more about how computers deal with graphics, and musicians learned a bit about digital music, and how it differs from the concert hall. I was surprised to hear from several computer science students that the class actually helped them to put together years of seemingly disconnected programming knowledge. Using the development tools I created for a low-powered system such as the NES, and understanding why I created them the
way I did, allowed the students to begin to understand how modern computer science evolved. I was surprised to hear comments like this even from some of the Masters students. And of course, I hope the most important lesson everyone learned is that learning, research, and hard work can be really fun and rewarding in the right context.
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