Laurel Springs teacher Alek Talevich understands what it’s really like to be an online high school student. That’s not just because he’s been a Laurel Springs teacher for ten years, but also because he’s a Laurel Springs alumnus. Alek is excited about the options available to our students via our new industry-focused curriculum pathways. In particular, he’s a fan of the Computer Science & Technology courses, specifically, the Game Design course.
Alek has worked in the video game industry himself. “I was a character designer and script supervisor for an independent game development studio in Vancouver. I love games and learned what a herculean task it is to actually make a game. It’s like building a never-ending Jenga tower.” Alek brings his industry experience to the Game Design course, along with a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a Master’s degree in multidisciplinary English—which are also pertinent to creating video games in terms of working with a game’s plot, characters, and setting.
“I’ve been teaching the Game Design course for six years. During that time, I’ve learned that students who thrive in the course can’t just have a strong love of video games…they also need to love to solve problems, and want to understand how things work.” Computer science is all about figuring out how to solve problems, according to Alek, and students who are good problem-solvers will be successful in other subjects as well. “If you can critically deconstruct something in an English class, then you can succeed in the Game Design course. And if you’re a strong math student, you will probably enjoy this course.”
The Future of STEM Careers
The Game Design course is one option in the Computer Science & Technology curriculum pathway, developed especially for online high school students who find their passion in STEM fields related to coding, robotics, or social media. Industry leaders say that skilled professionals will continue to be in high demand, even as the industry shifts to accommodate new technology. Laurel Springs students can take advantage of courses like 3D Modeling, AP Computer Science, Cybersecurity (in addition to other courses including Game Design) in order to get a jump on their college and career plans.
Students in the course explore the full scope of what’s involved with video game design, and Alek said that many students are surprised by what’s included in the content. “The business is constantly reinventing itself in terms of what it takes to put all the individual parts together. Video gaming is not just a tech or art business, now it has multiple facets that are important and highly specialized and students might not realize that. When you watch the ending credits for a game, they can be 20 minutes long! Each of those people had a very specific role. Whether they were responsible for modeling trees or clouds or acting or editing, no one person can do it all. Most students are surprised to learn how much labor from many people goes into a single game.” It’s all about collaboration, which Alek said is an important skill for future video game designers to build.
Transforming a Hobby Into a Career
What can students expect from this dynamic online school program? For starters, it’s a two-part course. Students who have an interest in the history, development, marketing, and technology of game development will explore those topics in the first part of the course. The second part of the course expects students to engage in the creation of their own games—it dives into coding, modeling, action scripts, animations, and other important technical aspects of game development. “You can delve into the individual moving parts of a game and learn about what separates an indie game from a big name game.” Students learn what parts of the design process they like and want to take further in college and career.
Many students seek out a path that helps them transform their favorite hobby into a career they love, and the Game Design course encompasses a variety of career development topics.
“With the exception of some rare cases,” Alek said, “you’re dealing with studios that have staff all around the world. Someone in Singapore might design a ship, for example, and send the files to an office elsewhere for motion. Students benefit from understanding what the real-world business of game design is like. If you want to work in the business, you can choose your specialty, and you have options about where you might live—the whole business isn’t just based in one geographic area. We talk about future careers a lot as part of the course.”
Laurel Springs is proud to offer these types of courses that help them explore their areas of interest on a whole new level, so they can gauge their potential for even deeper discovery through college courses and future employment.
Computer Science & Technology is just one of many curriculum pathways at Laurel Springs. Ready to learn more? Contact your Laurel Springs representative or our admissions team to learn more about how we help online high school students plan for futures in growing industries, in-demand occupations, and outstanding post-secondary programs.