UCF game development school first in country to use Microsoft development kits

11/02/05

UCF's Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, Microsoft have entered into agreement to allow FIEA students to use the Xbox kits as part of training

ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 2, 2005 -- The University of Central Florida's graduate game-development school, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA), and Microsoft Corporation have entered into an agreement that allows FIEA students to use Xbox Development Kits as part of their educational training.

Part of UCF's School of Film & Digital Media, FIEA welcomed its inaugural class into a refurbished, state-of-the-art building in downtown Orlando in August.

The development kits are used by licensed Microsoft game developers in creating games for operation on the Xbox console. This is the first time Microsoft has licensed the use of its Xbox Development Kits to an academic institution. The total value of the development kits covered by the agreement is approximately $1 million.

Starting in the spring, the development kits will be used in FIEA courses like "Visual Development" and "Software Production" to teach students how to implement game ideas on a piece of dedicated hardware. Programmers will learn how to create code and applications for a console game, and artists will get to see their models and environments rendered on a television-based platform. In addition, producers will get to implement game designs particular to the Xbox environment.

"This unique agreement with Microsoft will benefit our students and program," Executive Director Ben Noel said. "Being able to enter the game industry with experience working on these kits will give our programmers, producers and artists a head start on developing games for the platform when they enter industry."

"In today's world of multi-platform game production, console development opportunities have been severely limited for students." said Chris Satchell, general manager of Microsoft's Game Developer Group. "This unique collaboration between Microsoft and UCF targets changing this and will provide students in the FIEA program with incredibly valuable experience in gaming console development. By giving students access to a contemporary console platform, we hope to energize the next generation of gaming professionals who will go on to create new amazing experiences for consumers."

FIEA's master's degree in interactive entertainment offers intensive, project-based courses set in a building that mimics the production environments of successful gaming studios. The students work together in cohort teams on projects meant to replicate the various stages of video-game production. Faculty members include UCF professors and former video-game professionals from Electronic Arts, Disney and Microsoft Game Studios.

FIEA was created from a unique partnership between UCF, the state and Electronic Arts. The program got its start in May 2004, when the Florida Legislature provided $4.2 million in start-up funding. Electronic Arts helped with the formation of the academy and in the development of the curriculum. Students who have a passion for gaming and strong portfolios in areas such as computer modeling, programming and animation are well-suited for FIEA. FIEA and the School of Film & Digital Media are located at 500 W. Livingston St. in downtown Orlando.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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