SEATTLE -- Instead of reading Facebook threads on an iPad, Karyn McCullough is stitching sock monsters before history class. When it comes to the gamer generation, she's pretty old school.

I still havemy oldGame Boy, she said. It's older than some of the other students here!

Here isthe DigiPen Institute of Technology, one ofthreeDigiPencampuses around the world where students receive degrees in nine different game development fields. It's what Karyn feels she was designed for.

I used to play Legend of Zelda on my Game Boy. There was no stopping, she saidon her Redmond campus. It was like, Karyn, stop. Go do homework!

Nearly 400 American schools now offer courses, certificates, or degrees related to computer and video game design. Karyn recently won a scholarship from the Entertainment Software Association Foundation and insists the slacker stereotype is pure fantasy.

People look at video game school and think sincetheylike to play video gamesthey can go make them. Then they realize what it takes to make them and they realize it isn't what they thought it was.

Right now, the global gaming industry alone is bigger than box office and music combined. Revenues are projected to hit $82 billion by 2017, according to Forbes.It's an economic engine thatmany at DigiPenbelieveis just getting started. Gaming via phones and tablets is in its infancy. And even if gaming should one day completelydisappear?

DigiPen's vice president of software production,BenEllinger says, If all of a sudden commercial video games are no longer viable in any way, people would ask, what about all our graduates who are trained in video games? They're doomed! No. They immediately go into software in other areas, and they'd be excellent at it.

The International Game Developers Association lists the entry level starting salary for a video game designer at between 50,000 and 80,000 dollars. Karyn McCollough is looking forward to an 80% to 90% employment rate when she graduates and starts the job hunting game.

Read or Share this story: