Gaming majors get new high-end computers on campus

St. Edward’s University has acquired 30 new Alienware computers for its new gaming major.

While there are currently 25 computers in Moody 206, there are also four in the Woodward Office Building computer lab as well as one extra computer in case any of the active ones break down.

The new machines are meant for the university’s gaming majors and for digital media management majors, but anyone can use them.

“Alienware is basically just a Windows 7 machine,” said Assistant Professor of Digital Media Management Gregg Perry. “They’re basically just … extremely high-end Dells.”

Although these computers are not the top of the line available from Alienware, they go above and beyond the call of duty of gaming and animation demands.

Each computer has a solid state hybrid hard drive, which is a faster hard drive that uses a small amount of RAM to buffer memory while it writes the memory to a regular hard drive. Perry said it is “like a big flash drive. “

Programs that run well on the school’s other computers run even better on an Alienware computer.

“At around 60 frames per second, it has the best video cards to handle high frame rates,” Perry said.

Students are able to edit full films with the Alienware computers using Adobe Premiere, and they can also create 3D, full motion and full screen games.

“We use the Unreal Development Kit [to create games],” Perry said. “We’re using the exact same tools used to create games played on Xbox 360, PlayStation3 [and other major gaming consoles].”

With these computers, students don’t have to worry about running their programs through the night to finish creating a project.

“Fifteen or 20 years ago, you had to let [the machines] work through the night. Now, the game’s ready to play in a couple of minutes,” Perry said.

Users of the new Alienware computers don’t have to worry about readjusting and relearning how to use a new machine.

“There are some strange symbols on the keyboard designed for online gamers and the spacing between the keys is wider than on other computers. This is also designed for people who play online games and don’t want to press on other keys,” Perry said.

Gaming and digital media management majors can use these computers as tools to further their careers ambitions.

“These machines are designed for animation and graphics,” Perry said. “A lot of students have been using their creations in portfolios when they look for jobs at gaming companies.”

The computers will eventually run programs called Maya and 3ds Max. These programs are standard in the film and gaming industries.

However, if students want to take their creations a step further and try to put their games on the market, they will face some limitations on licensing, Perry said.

“We have an educational license, so none of the games created can be marketed. But if I see potential in a game, we’ll work to get it out there,” Perry said.

Anyone can use the new machines, but only if they use them courteously.

“We ask if someone is working on a digital media or gaming project while you’re just using Word, please use one of the other machines,” Perry said.