UCF’s video game programs are recognized as among the best in the world

Princeton Review and PC Gamer rated UCF's video game programs highly.

Yes, we know Orlando is famous for its theme parks. The University of Central Florida (UCF) runs a hospitality management college in the tourism corridor where the school trains future leaders to work in the theme parks and hotel business.

But UCF is becoming known for another popular field: video game development. The Orlando school is winning national recognition in that area.

“The Princeton Review and PC Gamer recognize that UCF’s programs are among the best in the world,” UCF said in a press release.

“UCF’s graduate game design program, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA), is ranked No. 1 in the world for the fourth time in five years. The undergraduate game design program, Games and Interactive Media (GaIM) in UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media, achieved its highest ranking ever, advancing to No. 5 in the world.”

The rankings emerged as Princeton Review ranked the top college programs for video game design by surveying administrators at 150 institutions in the United States, Canada and four European countries. The survey takes into account everything from academic rigor, faculty credentials and student outcomes.

“We’re pleased that The Princeton Review and PC Gamer recognize our exceptional faculty and how our talented graduates thrive as innovators and leaders, often right here in Central Florida, home to many of the nation’s leading gaming, film and animation companies,” UCF Provost Michael Johnson said.

FIEA, which opened in 2006, gives students an opportunity to collaborate, develop video games and learn animation, computer programming and software engineering. About 1,000 students have completed the program so far and about 85% of graduates have gone on to find jobs in their chosen field where a gaming graduate can get paid an average starting salary of $81,300 a year, UCF said.

Some UCF graduates are involved in designing popular video games, such as Spider-Man 2, Madden NFL 24, Remnant II, Diablo IV, Hogwarts Legacy, The Last of Us Part I and God of War Ragnarök.

“FIEA is a major source of new talent at our Orlando location, and we have been fortunate to benefit from that thriving talent pipeline since the program’s inception,” said Daryl Holt, senior vice president and group general manager at Tiburon Studios & American Football.

The pipeline between UCF students and the industry is also strengthened because FIEA and Electronic Arts, the maker of “Madden NFL,” are both located in downtown Orlando’s Creative Village.

“When our legislature approved the development of the FIEA program at UCF in 2004, we envisioned an environment where students, faculty and industry practitioners explored, learned and developed the world’s best video games,” said FIEA Executive Director Benjamin Noel.

“Twenty years later, the Creative Village is the thriving home to over 2,000 video game students and professionals. It’s been good for our community and we are positioned for the brightest game development future of any global media hub.”

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    March 19, 2024 at 11:15 am

    How is this allowed to go on in Florida? There’s nekkid ladies in so many video games.

    Game programmers are nothing but a bunch of demented perverts, which would be perfect for Florida if they leaned G0P, but they don’t. They lean left!

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