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College course in electronic games a hit

By Zou Shuo | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-03 08:59

Peking University launched a popular new course on electronic games this semester in response to China's rapidly developing game industry.

The optional course - General Theory of Electronic Games - was designed to accommodate 120 students. It attracted about 200 for the first five lessons, according to the instructor.

Chen Jiang, associate professor at the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, said he was forced to change to a bigger classroom, but some students still had to stand to listen to the two-hour lesson.

"The course is not to train students in playing games, but to introduce issues relating to video game research and development, technology, industry and psychology," Chen said. "I started the course because I like playing electronic games, but more important, I want more of my students to know what electronic games are - the benefits and problems."

Chen has invited professionals from game developers such as Tencent and NetEase to teach students how to develop and promote games.

"Students will have a better understanding about the industry from the firsthand materials and experience brought by these experts," he said.

Shuai Yuanhua, a postgraduate student at the university's School of Software and Microelectronics, said, "I'm interested in playing games and in the development of the game industry. I will possibly work at a game company when I graduate, so the course enables me to have a preview of my future job."

China's gaming craze is shared across all ages and genders. The game market increased 23 percent year-on-year to 219 billion yuan ($34.6 billion) last year, the largest in the world, according to the China Culture and Entertainment Industry Association.

Many students will be involved in the game industry either through employment or investment, as the sector will develop into a pillar of the entertainment industry, Chen said.

"Our students are expected to make or enforce policies related to games," Chen said.

The course has 15 sessions. Students are required to design their own video game project at the end of the course.

In 2016, the Ministry of Education authorized 13 new disciplines, including "electronic sports and management".

"Playing games is not all bad," Chen said. "Spoiled children can learn that they are not the center of the universe from playing group games, while the introvert can learn how to socialize."

Chen also admitted that electronic games can consume time, energy and money. The key to prevent addiction to games is for parents to give their children enough attention and care.

The government and game companies should also form unified industry standards specifying how much time children are allowed to spend on games each day and the kinds of games they can play, he added.

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