Some believe that having a big-time college football team is the key to boosting enrollment. George Mason University has found that offering a degree in video game design does the trick, too.

GMU, located in Fairfax, Va. and the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, says the Fall 2010 anticipated enrollment in its newly created Computer Game Design program is five times what it expected. "We've been overwhelmed," said Scott M. Martin, assistant dean for Technology, Research and Advancement.


The program had hoped to enroll 110 students by 2012; they're already over 200.

Naturally, game design is an extremely popular offering, considering the desire many have to work in the games industry and the small ratio of dedicated game design programs to more traditional computer science and graphic arts sequences at American universities. Mason also benefits from its location, close to heavy hitters such as Bethesda Softworks and BioWare Mythic.

"This course bodes well for the future of gaming in this region," Eugene Evans, the BioWare Mythic general manager, told the Fairfax Times. "The team at GMU is putting a strong emphasis on a broad set of disciplines and instilling an entrepreneurial spirit - which could mean many new start-ups within a few years."

Though it is the largest university by enrollment in Virginia, to most before now, George Mason may have been more commonly known in the U.S. for its basketball team's run to the 2006 Final Four. Maybe games design can raise its profile even further, on a longer-term basis.


New Gaming Degree Program ‘Wildly Popular' at GMU [Fairfax Times via Game Politics]