When you are young, you get to explore – to figure out what you want to be. And looking at the programs now on offer at three Danish community colleges (folkehøjskoler), young people want to design games.
“Students are often just out of regular high school and want to explore game design but don’t yet know what academic path to follow in order to enter the games industry. Others might just need a break from their regular education to reflect upon how to proceed. Some are just curious about how games work as culture and communication,” says Danish game industry veteran Thomas Vigild.
“Half of my students see the (game development) course as a way to prepare for applying to one of the formal games education programs in Denmark, the other half just have an interest in games, want to explore them and make their own games,” says Askov Højskole head of game design Jesper Krogh Kristiansen.
Kristiansen believes that the growing interest in attending game design courses at Danish community colleges stems from the fact that young people today spend at least as much time with games as they do with television, movies and music.
“Viewed like that, I think that it is only natural that some of them want to design their own games and not just play the ones made by others,” notes Kristiansen. “And with development(s) in software and tools, it has become a lot easier to make your own games.”
Vigild thinks that part of the success of game design courses is also due to games having grown in popularity to equal other forms of communication. Vigild notes that at Vallekilde, he focuses not only on digital games, but on gaming as a way of expression, “a more holistic way of looking at games and interaction”.
Though completing a four-month game design course at a Danish community college does not entail an exam or result in an actual diploma, Kristiansen has the clear ambition of sending his students off with some actual skills.
“First and foremost, students learn to analyse game mechanics and gameplay, giving them an understanding of how the stuff they put into a game affects the way players experience the game,” says Kristiansen. “They also acquire some actual technical skills and end-up being able to work with the Unity (game) engine.”
As both Kristiansen and Vigild point out, attending a Danish community college also teaches students a lot about common human social interaction, life, democracy and working with others: “I truly believe that students leave with skills far more important to their lives ahead than the quantifiable school instruction,” says Vigild.
What is a Danish community college?
The Danish community college (folkehøjskole) system is something unique to Denmark – in short, a non-formal adult education school with no academic requirements for admittance and no exams. Students at Danish community colleges typically attend for about four months, and classes are based on dialogue and mutual learning between teachers and students.
Who can attend a game design course at Danish community college?
Game design courses at Danish community colleges are open to students from all countries; however classes might not be in English. Tuition ranges from 1,300 to 1,500 Danish crowns (DKK) per week, including classes, food and lodging over (typically) four months.
Learn more about Danish community colleges (folkehøjskoler) at www.hojskolerne.dk.