Cool Classes: Game Design Students Take Their Coursework to Market

Cool Classes: Game Design Students Take Their Coursework to Market

The on line casino video games trade is booming, producing greater than $400 billion in annual international income. And with legalized playing increasing all through the world, the demand for brand spanking new and improved on line casino video games is on the rise. Even in locations like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the place gaming has been an financial staple for many years, expectations are quickly altering, calling for brand spanking new gaming experiences calibrated for a brand new era of gamers. 

That’s the place UNLV teacher Daniel Sahl’s Gaming Innovation course is available in. 

A Course Like No Other

Tapping into a few of the finest minds within the gaming trade, college students enrolled within the Gaming Innovation course are bringing viable on line casino sport ideas to the desk — actually. It doesn’t damage that the Gaming Capital of the World is actually at their doorstep!

Offered each fall semester by way of UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, the course calls on every of its 20-plus college students to work individually or in teams to produce novel ideas for the gaming trade. The whole class then works to slim down the ideas, deciding on three or 4 with probably the most potential. Depending in the marketplace viability of the chosen video games, Sahl (with the help of trade companions) will assist the scholars develop a proof of idea of the sport (which can embody a playable demo) or assist file a patent.

“This is actually a novel class,” Sahl says. “There are plenty of colleges that do sport design, however that is the one place the place you possibly can learn the way to design and commercialize on line casino video games.” 

Course tasks to date have proven measurable outcomes. Since the category launched in 2013, 24 patents have been issued to UNLV college students.

It is a components that continues to profit college students in additional methods than one.

“Multiple college students have efficiently commercialized their improvements by way of a sale or licensing settlement with sport builders,” Sahl says. “This is likely one of the solely courses on the planet the place your closing venture would possibly truly repay your pupil loans.”

An Experience for Everyone

Established as an elective, the Gaming Innovation class is coveted by UNLV college students from a wide range of disciplines, together with hospitality administration, engineering, artwork, and legislation. Non-degree-seeking people with a watch on the gaming trade repeatedly enroll as effectively.

Also, the course’s on-line hybrid format makes it straightforward for college students from different states and nations to be a part of the category.

Sahl says the course is ready up as a collaborative house that celebrates individualized expertise and abilities. The pupil who’s doing the programming, for instance, will not be the identical pupil who’s growing the sport’s design, music, or total theme. It’s an setting the place nobody is excluded.

“One of the most important misconceptions is that you’ve to be good at math to be on this class,” Sahl says. “I’ve some college students who’re phenomenal at math. Others are phenomenal at artwork and design. It’s actually a category for anybody at any ability degree.”

Innovation pupil and Hospitality College senior Joo Yeun Kim identifies “idea improvement” as her forte. Kim’s sport, Baccarat Spin, takes the standard sport of baccarat and provides a twist to attraction to youthful gamers.

“Young folks don’t need to play video games primarily based on luck solely,” Kim says. “I knew that to catch their consideration I wanted to add a component of ability.” 

As one of many few hospitality packages on the planet with a bona fide focus in on line casino gaming, the Hospitality College gave Kim a tutorial outlet for her fascination with the on line casino trade. Kim’s internship with gaming firm IGT has additional enhanced this curiosity, significantly the monetary aspect of the enterprise.

“The approach casinos earn money may be very totally different from the resort,” says Kim, who plans to make a profession in on line casino sport expertise. “And particular person video games earn money very otherwise from one another. It’s so fascinating to me.”


UNLV’s Gaming Innovation program creates alternatives for college students to carry their concepts to market. Here, pupil Troy Petite presents throughout a UNLV Innovation Lab session at a previous G2E Global Gaming Expo on the Sands Convention Center. 

Nurturing Talent

Sahl has been a gaming innovation devotee ever since attending the category in its 2013 inaugural semester. He would go on to full a doctoral dissertation on on line casino sport design whereas working underneath the tutelage of former Gaming Innovation teacher and gaming innovator Mark Yoseloff, who established the Center for Gaming Innovation throughout the UNLV’s International Gaming Institute (the college’s suppose tank for gaming analysis and coverage).

Following in Yoseloff’s footsteps as the brand new director of the Center for Gaming Innovation, Sahl set out to encourage college students the identical approach he was impressed.

“There is numerous demand amongst builders for college students who’ve expertise and concepts in sport design,” he says. “If a pupil is dedicated to the method and desires to construct their very own portfolio of video games, I’m right here to assist.”

Sahl encourages college students to develop any and all forms of gaming tech, although traditionally, probably the most profitable video games have concerned new ideas in desk video games, slots, sports activities betting, and lottery. Not each sport makes it previous the conceptual stage, however Sahl makes certain all college students go away the course with a working data of startups, licensing, advertising, regulatory considerations, mental property, and different key parts particular to the on line casino gaming trade.

Built-In Industry Support

The success of the Gaming Innovation class is in no small half the results of sturdy relationships with on line casino trade consultants.

Hospitality College trade associate Konami Gaming, Inc., for example, supplied funding for the mock on line casino lab/classroom the place the Gaming Innovation course and different Hospitality College gaming courses happen. 

The course additionally enjoys the backing of cell gaming firm DraftKings, which helps this system and helped set up the DraftKings Gaming Innovation Studio at UNLV. The studio employs college students to develop and experiment with a variety of gaming prototypes.

DraftKings, which has operated a sport design facility in Las Vegas since 2020, advocates for college students by way of hiring in addition to serving on the course’s mentorship group. 

“They [DraftKings] helped me with my concept,” says Kim, who tweaked her sport idea following her first presentation in entrance of the group. “At first, my sport was too easy. After getting their suggestions, I modified my idea utterly. They have been very useful.”

Not solely did Baccarat Spin make it by way of to the house stretch of the category, however Kim’s sport is now heading for a subsequent part of improvement: demo creation. Though sport improvement is a protracted course of that spans effectively past the size of 1 class, the help Kim receives from Sahl and his trade community would possibly simply get her to the end line.

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