Students at colleges in the Atlanta University Center consortium will be able to take advantage of the booming gaming industry thanks to a new grant. Learn more in the Spelman release below.

Photo Credit: Wilson Center

Spelman College plans to send more women of color into the gaming industry. The nation’s premier liberal arts college for African American women just got a helping hand with a $300,000 three year grant from the Unity Charitable Fund, administered by Tides Foundation, to develop a gaming curriculum supported by Unity Technologies.

Unity was an early funder for Spelman’s Innovation Lab, a campus-wide source for creative inquiry, unconventional research, experimental pedagogy and exploratory play. The new grant will allow the lab to extend gaming efforts to students at other Atlanta University Center institutions, including Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and, possibly, Morris Brown College, said Jerry Volcy, co-director of the Innovation Lab.

“The grant from Unity really allows us to expand the gaming space to include more women of color,” Volcy said. “It gives women of color a voice in the industry and has created a lot of interest in purposeful games.”

The Innovation Lab at Spelman College is home to a budding program, Gaming+, which encompasses game design, gaming theory, game development, elements of interactive media, virtual and extended reality and other technologies linked to gaming. 

“The grant will be used to develop Gaming+ into a formal curricular area of concentration or minor, support faculty research in gaming, and create and maintain gaming workshops,” Volcy explained. “This will bring experts to campus and provide a learning and networking opportunity for the campus community,” he said. 

Madeleine Brown, 20 and a junior computer science major at Spelman College, had set her heart on a career in network security. But the Dallas, Texas native’s life was changed last summer after receiving a flier via email about the Innovation Lab.

Brown is busy on her first video game — a 3D racing game featuring a woman of color. She has sketched a track configuration, created the first race cart and is building out a virtual world. 

“I’ve started to code; I know Python, but I’m learning C-Sharp for Unity,” she said. “I’m hoping to have a fully working character model in the cart by end of year.” 

The new program will allow students to combine several skills, Volcy explained. “Gaming+ offers an immediate opportunity to pull together coding, art and storytelling for the purpose of creating a product that none of the constituent disciplines could individually achieve,” he said. “In so doing, marketable products may emerge, or, at a minimum, students will obtain portable technical skills important for entrepreneurship.”

According to Brown, the future looks brighter. “Before, I didn’t know that a game could help my future career. But now that I’ve learned about the different careers, it has opened my eyes to infinitely more possibilities,” she said. “I’m excited to see what comes up out of my game by the time research day comes along in spring, and how my career develops.” This summer she secured an internship at a AAA gaming company.