Since childhood, video games have fascinated NJIT adjunct professor D.J. Kehoe, a 28-year-old adjunct professor at NJIT and recent alumnus. With his trusty Commodore 64, one of the earliest computers on the market, Kehoe taught himself by the age of 8, the language of computing known as Basic.
“I didn’t know I was programming,” he recalled. “I thought I was playing a game that made games.” Now, 20 years later, Kehoe teaches NJIT students how to program video games and is the force behind NJIT’s semi-annual “Game Expo,” on April 19, 2008, noon -10 p.m. in the Campus Center Ball Room. More than 500 high school and college students are expected to attend. For more information see: http://it.njit.edu/kehoed/gameexpo25/index.php.
Kehoe’s classes are part of a new game programming concentration at NJIT http://www.njit.edu/features/sceneandheard/videogame.php available for information technology students. The concentration, a total of 12 classes, was officially launched last fall. Students with other majors can take classes as electives. Kehoe heads the program.
The Game Expo allows these aficionados a time and place to show off their wares, gain recognition, plus compete for small prizes ranging from $25 to $200 gift certificates at NJIT.
Favorite commercial games will be available such as Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution, both of which are rhythm-based and challenge the dexterity of players. Or take the classic crowd-pleasers like Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Tekken and Capcom Fighters, popular fighting games.
A costume contest will spice up the afternoon activities. “Such events like dressing up have become staples of the electronic entertainment culture, especially in events centering on Japan and its culture,” said Kehoe.
Game programming is not all fun. At NJIT, its more serious side becomes visible upon closer examination of classes featured by the information technology department. “The program offers a background in computer science theory with the practice of applied programming,” said Kehoe. “Under our multimedia concentration, students study graphic design, game design, level editing and 3D modeling.”
Among the NJIT alumni judging the contest will be a game designer for Gameloft, James Kim; a content coordinator for Nickelodeon, Kayla Chong; and a junior producer for Skyzone Mobile, Alwin Ventura. Employment opportunities in this field are on the rise because the game industry numbers among the fastest-growing, employing professionals with skills and expertise.
“This event allows NJIT students to celebrate something they are very good at—game developing and game playing,” said Kehoe. “The students also make the expo possible. Our budget goes towards prizes and advertising. The rest comes about through donated time and equipment. We could not possible rent all the games and game consoles needed, so we rely on our students to provide them.”