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Lanier Tech rolling out video game development program

OAKWOOD — Angel Vargas enjoys playing video games, but that’s just the start of his interest in the pastime.

“There’s more to it, and I want to learn what’s more to it,” said the East Hall High School student. “I want to know … what makes them work.”

The teenager and others with a similar passion are in a good place to realize such a dream, as Lanier Technical College is preparing to roll out a video game development program.

College officials and industry representatives touted the program, which will start with the opening of the new campus off Ga. 365 and Howard Road in fall 2018, as part of a celebration event Wednesday at the school.

“I haven’t played a game in a long, long time, so I cannot imagine how this technology and this entertainment venue has exploded over the last several years,” said Lanier Tech President Ray Perren.

“But I do know there are a lot of job opportunities for people to develop games … and that’s really the purpose of today’s [event].”

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, lauded the college for pursuing a program “that is new and cutting-edge.”

“The thing that so excites me about this program … is when we unleash the creative processes in our students,” he said.

Dave Parrish, Lanier Tech spokesman, said that before the new curriculum officially starts, the college will work to build awareness of the program.

“The gaming community is not just young people,” he said. “It’s all age groups … and it’s very global. So, it’s very important that people in Georgia, especially in our area, know they don’t have to [travel far] to do what they want career-wise.”

Perren said Georgia “has a game curriculum that we will be following, to begin with.”

“And as the program continues to grow, we want to work with all these partners in the room today to assure that the program supports what their needs are,” he said.

Wednesday’s event was held in tandem with the Entertainment Software Association.

Also attending were Asante Bradford, digital entertainment liaison, Georgia Department of Economic Development; Andrew Greenberg, executive director of the Georgia Game Developers Association; Molly Proffitt, co-founder and CEO of Ker-Chunk Games; and District 25 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon, a Republican from south Forsyth, who is chief technology officer for Hi-Rez Studios, an Alpharetta-based video game company.

Brian Gonzalez of Johnson High School said he became interested early in life in the technology behind video games.

“That kind of drew me to [wanting to] make video games for myself and other people to have fun with,” he said.

Adrienne FitzGerald said she has always been more attracted to the “artsy side” of video games.

“I like the animation, but I’m also interested in the technical side,” she said.