Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) in Pittsburgh is a huge school for students who have a passion for the technology and gaming industry. The university’s ETC has its own advantages for start-ups that allow video games and other technology to be grown from there through the various companies that have been spawned by the ETC.
A Professor at the ETC and CEO of Schell Games had this to say in regards to how affordable life is in Pittsburgh and how much easier it is for the youth to find jobs in gaming at her company, “The joke about Pittsburgh is that it’s both the westernmost east coast city and the easternmost Midwest city, plus the northernmost southern city and the southernmost Canadian city, but one thing that is nice, the costs here are much lower. You saw our studio. The average age is probably 29. More than 50 percent of them own their own houses, which I don’t think would be true out in Silicon Valley.”
Schell’s company receives a lot of new employees from Carnegie Mellon and the ETC, and specializes in creating transformational, meaningful, and educational games such as the mobile game on iPad, Happy Atoms which teaches children about chemistry and one of their most popular titles being I Expect You To Die, a puzzle game where the kids have to figure out a way to escape a trap set for them by a villain. Other tech companies such as Facebook, Disney, Google, Duolingo, Oculus, Uber have also set up shop in Pittsburgh and are working with the companies on getting tax credit to create jobs.
When people attend or visit the ETC nowadays, the walls are decorated with art from games, comics, and animated movies, old video game machines are displayed in glass cases and the bathrooms even have a Mario theme. ETC teaches students interdisciplinary skills in art, design, coding, technology, and the student’s knowledge doesn’t just limit them to creating video games, many of the students go on to create Pixar films, theme park rides, interactive museum exhibits, children’s educational sites, and video games.
Teamwork is a large part of the curriculum as well and students frequently work with each other in group projects to build social working skills and learn about each other’s strengths. Director of ETC Drew Davidson, stated in an interview, “It’s like an MBA for people in the creative industries, It shows them creative career path opportunities. We joke that everybody here is a like a mutt, trained in a lot of different things.”
Jessica Trybus, CEO of Simcoach Games, felt as though games could be used for other purposes, which lead her to start Simcoach Games, the company has 20 employees and has made 150 free games (most of them being on the mobile platform) the games are sponsored by corporations and teach people various skill about learning trades, being construction workers, or how to create tech careers, overall giving back to the community and teaching people how to start their own careers. The only problem Pittsburgh faces in the gaming industry is that their aren’t that many gaming companies compared to other places, so sometimes after graduates earn their degree they move to another city to find better jobs. However Pittsburgh is slowly building up their reputation in the gaming industry and hopefully, in the future, they will be able to compete with other industries in the gaming world. Happy gaming!
Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons