CCE Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Thomas W MacFarland

Committee Member

Eric S Ackerman

Committee Member

Steven Terrell


This dissertation proposal begins with a discussion about how the education of game programmers was not meeting the needs of the game industry. With this problem identified, this study proceeded to verify the existence of disparities of current game programming curricula. The findings from the literature review were able to: (a) justify the need to develop a career-oriented instructional design model for education of game programming; (b) identify the disparities that caused the mismatch of instructional content between academia and the game industry; (c) review research that contributed to the identification of three disparities: curriculum objectives and structure, instructional content, and curriculum orientation; (d) discuss theories and models of instructional design, student engagement, and related pedagogies; and (e) explore how these theories and models might be instrumental in improving education of game programming. The results obtained from the literature review were also used to formulate guidelines for investigating the status of currently available curricula in game programming. The research design and the research methods utilized by this study to examine the research questions are also described in detail.

Four research questions were used to guide the study with the goal of identifying or forming a guiding principle for developing an instructional design model for a career-oriented education of game programming professionals. The results of this study indicated that all of the investigated game programming curricula had not yet produced graduates whom the game companies are interested in hiring as game programmers and that educational institutions had missed an opportunity to equip students with the proper programming skills for the game industry. Furthermore, this study identified that an accreditation standard as well as an industry-accepted instructional design model was not yet available to reflect the personnel hiring requirements of the game industry. The curriculum and coursework must be career-oriented and instructional content must center on game programming. Game programming pedagogy must lead to development of core competencies. In reviewing these findings, the guiding principles for developing an instructional design model became clear. The contribution of this study was to present an immediately applicable instructional design model that could be used as a basis by schools to create or fine tune their game programming curricula. The completed model is provided as an attachment to this dissertation. This proposed instructional design model is intended to provide an initial basis towards a solution to minimize the disparities between academia and the game industry in educational areas of curriculum orientation, curriculum objectives and structure, and instructional content. As with any problem solution, future study and analysis should be done in order to optimize and standardize a game programming curriculum that will be accepted by the game industry as well as accredited by a mutually accepted accreditation body.

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