Responding to the digital media industry's appetite for skilled workers and the tastes of a new generation of students raised on Game Boy and Xbox, a growing number of schools and universities--including at least one Ivy League institution--now offer courses in video game design.

Down the hall from Shawn Lawson's classroom at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), college students study steel design and software engineering. In Lawson's class, they learn how to digitally animate a ball bouncing through a flaming hoop.

"We need to give him a real squish when he


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