PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY (WUSA9) -- If your kid loves to play video games, let him. It may be his or her ticket to one of the fastest-growing careers around: Game design.
The new Simulation and Game Institute officially opened in Prince William County today. The public-private partnership hopes to support entrepreneurs who will create hundreds of well-paid local jobs.
The County says it is the only one of its kind on the east coast, and one of only four in the world. It provides paid internships for college students, hosts a summer camp and workshops for public school students and serves as an incubator for start-up companies. Some of the current start-ups were founded by recent Mason Game Design graduates.
They are working on new products at Mason's new Simulation and Game Institute in Prince William County's Innovation Park.
SGI Founding Director Dr. Scott Martin, who also started the Computer Games Design Program at Mason. He says it is "The fastest growing academic discipline at George Mason and in the Commonwealth, I'm told," said Martin.
"This institute is dedicated to taking ideas, advanced ideas, in how to design computer games and applying them to solve real problems," said Mason President
Mason Graduate Kenny Tindal has a simulator for training firefighters. He is working with it to allow the user to input the exact size and shape of the building.
The institute is not only for start-ups, but for partnerships with larger companies who allow students to get real hands on experience.
Zaah, which owns the popular Techno Kittah mobile app has set up shop at the Institute where programmers are moving it the game over to Android phone while also continually upgrading the app for both Android and iPhones.
"It's something that you can already put on a resume straight out of college. It's much better than an internship. It's right there, building everything from start to finish," said Stephanie Burton, SGI Administrative Assistance Operations and Finance.
Simulation and gaming is an 80 billion dollar industry, growing 7 percent every year.