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Atari class offers a new type of 'pong' this summer

By Emily Glaser
On January 24, 2013

Miami University students who are fans of the classic video games Pac-Man and Frogger will soon have the opportunity to create their very own games using the same computer system. Bo Brinkman, associate professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering, will be offering a class on the Atari 2600 gaming platform for the first time this summer.

Atari 2600 was the first very successful video game console, which came out in the late 1970s, according to Brinkman.

"The Atari uses a dying form of programming, but it helps you understand how computers think," Brinkman said. "I think I am a more effective software developer because I understand programming at a low level."

Brinkman said the course will be aimed at students who have had one programming class, and will be set up as a studio course, meaning students will have the four weeks of the summer term to solely work on their project.

"By setting it as a studio course, we'll be able to go through the process of design, critique, revision and discussion and build a community around the course," Brinkman said.

Brinkman said he hopes to use the summer term teaching the class as practice for next year's January term.

Junior computer science major Taylor White said he thinks the studio format is a good idea for this course.

"I think it's cool because you could walk away from the class with a distinct project that you created," White said. "I would definitely consider taking it in January if I can't take it this summer."

White said he is interested in the class because the Atari is more technical than software that he has worked with, and it is interesting to see how technology has evolved.

Bizzy Young, senior interactive media studies major, said she would also be interested in the class, although she plans to graduate in May.

"Right now I'm taking a couple classes where we're learning to design games for iPhone applications," Young said. "I'm taking a lot of [computer] programming classes but we haven't really looked into the history of gaming and where it all started."

Brinkman said the class is modeled after a class that has been taught at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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