University Launches New Collaboration with San Diego Video Game Companies

February 13, 2013

On February 13, John Paul the Great Catholic University hosted a networking event designed to introduce the University to San Diego's video game industry. The event - which consisted of presentations on the academic programs, facilities tour, and discussion - drew nearly twenty working professionals from a variety of established companies, including Sony Online Entertainment, Rockstar Games, Axis Game Factory, and Appy Entertainment. John Paul the Great Catholic University (JPCatholic) was established in 2003 in San Diego and relocated last year to a new campus in Escondido. The University offers degree programs in entertainment media, including a new emphasis in Video Game Design. Prof. Sam Shpigelman, Director of the Video Game Program at the University, organized the event to establish key connections with industry professionals, inviting them to help develop the school's gaming emphasis.

"The evening was hugely successful," said Shpigelman. "The industry knows we are here now. And not only that, but the program here was met with a lot of enthusiasm from everyone who attended. Each one of them agreed to participate on a regular basis on a panel that reviews student portfolios and offers feedback."

In addition to teaching at the University, Prof. Shpigelman is the Chief Creative Officer of HighTech Playground, a software development firm specializing in mobile applications and games. Before joining JPCatholic, Shpigelman established a very similar model of education at UCSD Extensions Digital Arts Center, where gaming professionals were invited into the classroom on a regular basis. The program was extremely successful, and Shpigelman is hoping to replicate that student experience at JPCatholic. According to Shpigelman, future collaborations at JPCatholic will also include guest lectures and the opportunity for students to visit these gaming companies.

For a University with a heavy focus on applied learning and experience, a strong connection with the local gaming ecosystem will be valuable in more ways than one." By establishing this connection with the industry, we are opening up a wide array of potential internships for our students, and providing potential employees for these businesses," said University president Dr. Derry Connolly. "It's a mutually beneficial partnership." The University combines hands-on education in art, animation, and game design with the fundamentals of business and entrepreneurship. Two student gaming companies are already being formed in the University's business incubator under the mentorship of faculty and professionals.

"The industry is changing very rapidly, and the technology is constantly evolving," said Shpigelman." By networking and communicating with the industry, JPCatholic students will get the most current and relevant guidance on their projects and on their companies. That way when they transition from the world of education into the workforce, that transition will be seamless."