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Gaming Focus boots up

Students in the Game2Know Focus program have everything a college freshman could want--spacious rooms in Bell Tower Dormitory, sleek video iPods and classes dedicated to the art of video gaming.

Proposed by the Information Science + Information Studies Department, the pilot program aims to show students that "gaming" is more than mere entertainment. Professors said they hope Game2Know will give students a better understanding of interactive media and its effect on modern society.

"Make no mistake about it, this is a challenging academic program with high standards and rigorous requirements," wrote Richard Lucic, associate professor of the Computer Science department and director of the ISIS curriculum, in an e-mail.

During the semester, Game2Know participants will learn how to create a Java-based video, dissect the mathematical model of games and write essays on how game metaphors reflect the human psyche, among other things.

"Multidisciplinarity is a core concept in gaming, and with Duke's reputation for providing interdisciplinary experiences, it is natural that we would become a leader in the academic study of game systems," Lucic said.

Artists, scientists and writers alike signed up for the Focus cluster, said Rachael Brady, adjunct associate professor of computer science and Game2Know instructor.

Currently the smallest Focus program with 17 freshmen, Lucic said ISIS hopes the cluster will generate more interest in the ISIS Undergraduate Certificate.

Every Monday, students meet for a Game2Know dinner, during which they share their classroom experiences, play video games and listen to iPods.

Freshman Gabi Delva, who enrolled because of her interest in robotic engineering, said she is particularly happy about using the video iPods, which belt out Podcasts on topics such as game addiction and the economies of multiplayer role-playing games like War of the Worlds and Maple Story.

Delva said she looks forward to "learn about how to make [her own] Podcasts and cutting and creating films."

Several other students said they are excited about visiting local software companies to observe the process of game development first hand.

Although the future of the program is still uncertain, Brady said she looks forward to learning lessons from the program's first year and continuing to improve the cluster as the semester continues.

"New media studies is a very recent field of investigation for historians, social scientists and humanities fields in general. We don't have the answers yet," Brady said. "I think it's important to bring this new line of thought to freshmen."

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