The University of Central Florida's video game graduate program is gaining continent wide attention once again. The Princeton Review and PC Gamer Magazine ranked the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) as the No. 2 program in North America.

For graduate students like game design major, Krishna Yeragudipati, work and play go hand-in-hand.

"The other project that we're working on is our main capstone game, which is done over a period of nine months or so, so that's a large team effort," Yeragudipati said.

Since opening its doors in 2005, the academy has graduated 537 students. Many of these students have gone on to work for 130 prominent companies in the video game industry, including Nintendo, Blizzard Entertainment and Electronic Arts. 

Masters student and interactive entertainment major, Adnan Mirza, said he believes the structure of the coursework has done more than well to prepare those entering the industry.

"Within my field especially, I get to work with people from other fields and other specialties," Mirza said, "we all work together try to make these different group projects and different kinds of games come to life."

Located in UCF's Center for Emerging Media, across from the old Amway Center, FIEA has quickly turned into a leader in video game studies.

But for FIEA's Communications and Admissions Director Todd Deary, there is always room for improvement.

"We have three different tracks here," Deery said," programming track, production track and art track. We've been working in our art track, refining it and bringing more options to the students."

In the meantime, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy will become a focal point in UCF's planned downtown campus.

Originally published April 18

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