The ETC is involved in other academic initiatives around Carnegie Mellon. From NHSGA, to the Game Design Minor, to the HCI Ph.D. and the Alice Project, CMU students have the opportunity to study with ETC professors from pre-college through undergraduate to graduate studies.


The National High School Game Academy (NHSGA) is part of Carnegie Mellon’s Summer Pre-College Programs. The NHSGA explores the video game industry and the skills needed to be successful in it. The program includes an exciting blend of hands-on exercises combined with traditional lecture and discussion. Students are encouraged to expand their own creative possibilities in a unique blend of left- and right-brain college-level work.


As part of Carnegie Mellon’s interdisciplinary IDEATE (the Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology) Network, the ETC offers an undergraduate minor in Game Design. Carnegie Mellon’s diverse and top-ranked departments in computing, engineering, design, and arts are uniquely positioned to serve students who have interdisciplinary interests bridging technology and creative practice. The IDEATE concentrations and minors connect students and faculty from across the university through coursework and collaborative studio experiences. Through IDEATE, all CMU undergraduates can get interdisciplinary minors and concentrations in eight creative industry areas as part of their major degree.

Undergraduate students in the Game Design minor learn both theory and skill in the key component areas of games: dramatic narrative and character development, visual and sound synthesis, special effects and performance capture, programming and engine development, interface and interaction architecture development, game assessment and redesign. In their courses, students will learn how to apply their specialized knowledge from their majors to enhance these component areas. They will work in highly interdisciplinary and collaborative contexts to parallel the experience of developing effective, engaging and well-functioning games in diverse teams.


Carnegie Mellon’s Ph.D. Program in Human-Computer Interaction is rigorous, creative, and deeply interdisciplinary. Dr. Jessica Hammer is an assistant professor, jointly appointed between the HCI Institute and the Entertainment Technology Center. She combines game design with qualitative and quantitative research techniques to understand how games impact human behavior. Her doctoral research lab explores games for impact meaning; games for health, games for learning, and games for social change – but also games for intimacy, games for creativity, and games for inspiration. This includes the emotional, social, cultural, and aesthetic ways that games change people. It also includes the many ways that players in turn affect games, from how players attribute meaning to their play experiences to how they develop house rules.


Randy Pausch helped start both Alice and the ETC, so it’s fitting to serve as the academic home for Alice at CMU and honor Randy’s legacy.

Alice is a free to download, innovative software tool that allows students who have never programmed before to easily create animations for telling stories, creating an interactive game, or making a video to share on the web.

Using 3D graphics and a drag-and-drop interface, Alice provides a more engaging, less frustrating first experience as students develop problem solving skills and learn object-oriented programming, even transitioning to the Java programming language. Alice nurtures student creativity, and is very successful in attracting women and other underrepresented groups into computer science.

The Alice system has a well developed curriculum, including textbooks, instructional materials, tutorials, and on-line support. Alice is now used around the world, and is implemented in languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Russian, and Arabic.

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