12-8-10 -- Free and open to the public, a December 9 video-game competition at UNM gives gamers a chance to test, play and provide feedback on student-created video games while having some gaming fun in the process.
The games will be available for play from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the lobby of the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department of the School of Engineering, located at the southwest corner of UNM's main campus (building #46 on the campus map). The games are the final project for students in ECE Assistant Professor Pradeep Sen's Introduction to Computer Graphics (ECE/CS 412) course.
As attested by test-players interviewed by KASA Fox 2 in the fall 2007 competition, the quality of the games promises to be remarkably high. In fact, Professor Sen and five of his ECE/CS 412 students last year were recognized by UNM-STC for copyrights awarded to them for video games they developed in the 2009 course.
To see a 2-1/2-minute clip of KRQE News 13's April 2009 report about the class, click here (13MB).
This is the fourth year for the Video Game Competition, which is hosted by UNM's Advanced Graphics Lab (AGL). AGL's video-game development program is ranked among North America's "Top 50 Undergraduate Game Design Programs" by The Princeton Review and GamePro magazine. The program combines practical application with a solid theoretical foundation, so program graduates have the technical background they need to thrive in the game industry. The curriculum produces first-class computer engineers, not just game developers.
"Companies are looking for people who already have experience developing games that have shipped to the public," Sen said in describing AGL's approach to teaching game development. "Unfortunately, most students graduating from traditional game development programs do not have that kind of experience." In the joint ECE/Computer Science courses, students publish real games to the public.
For example, the Advanced Video Game development class that Sen teaches has released student-developed video games to the Xbox 360 platform using the Xbox Live service. These and other student games can be previewed on AGL's YouTube channel or downloaded from the AGL website.
Thanks to the success of the AGL Games Division, UNM has joined MIT, USC and the University of Washington on Microsoft's list of technical universities that have game development programs featuring XNA, Microsoft's game development toolkit. In a 40-minute podcast interview with UNM Live, Professor Sen talks about what digital media and computer graphics are, the collaboration on digital media between engineers and artists at UNM, and job prospects for graduates.
The New Mexico Business Weekly reported on the Advanced Graphics Lab and the video game industry in New Mexico in this November 2007 article.
The Advanced Graphics Lab, located on the second floor of the ECE building, is the research laboratory at UNM that focuses on the technical aspects of computer graphics and digital media. The lab is directed by ECE Assistant Professor Pradeep Sen, who co-founded AGL with Assistant Professor Joe Kniss of the Computer Science Department, where Sen holds a joint appointment. AGL also hosts associated researchers, visiting professors, and graduate students. In addition to the educational program in game development, the AGL team does cutting-edge research in areas ranging from real-time rendering and computational photography to computer vision and visualization. Research by Dr. Sen and his students has been published at SIGGRAPH, the leading conference in computer graphics, as well as peer-reviewed journals such as ACM Transactions on Graphics, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, and the Eurographics Computer Graphics Forum.
The Electrical & Computer Engineering Department in the University of New Mexico's School of Engineering is the largest ECE department in the state of New Mexico, with 32 tenured and tenure-track professors. Both its Computer Engineering and its Electrical Engineering graduate programs are ranked among America's Best Graduate Schools by U.S. News & World Report, and both undergraduate programs are accredited by the national Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. ECE@UNM has a range of 14 research concentrations and offers graduate degrees in 14 areas; it confers more than 100 degrees annually; and it has an average enrollment of about 400 students. ECE@UNM is celebrating its centennial in 2010-11.
The University of New Mexico is the state's largest university, serving more than 32,000 students. It is North America's only institution designated both by the U.S. Department of Education as Hispanic-Serving and by the Carnegie Foundation as a research doctoral university "with very high research activity," the highest level of research that Carnegie designates.