When Ringling College of Art and Design hosted its An Evening at the Avant Garde fundraiser on March 18, one of the most popular activities was a virtual reality simulation. Guests interacted with a virtual robot, picking up a floppy disk using a VR glove and inserting the disk into a realistic-looking computer.
Today, Ringling College announced that VR will no longer be simply a tool used and learned by game design students. Starting in the fall of 2018, students will have the option of majoring in virtual reality through a four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts program.
The school is the first art and design college to offer a VR major.
“Virtual Reality is going to change everything,” said Ringling President Larry Thompson in a release. “The opportunities extend far beyond the worlds of gaming and entertainment—this technology will revolutionize the way we live and work, and it will offer unexplored opportunities for artists and designers.”
Thompson said the college’s goal is for students and graduates to not only lead this technological shift but advance and define the field.
VR students will create virtual experiences used in industries like health care, advertising and entertainment. Students will take classes like Visual Scripting, Concept Development for Virtual Worlds, Visual Development for VR and VR Development.
Ringling has already partnered with Flight School, a studio started by Ringling graduate Brandon Oldenburg that has been a leader in VR work.
The VR development major will be housed in the school’s computer animation department, which is headed by Jim McCampbell.
“We are excited to be forging into this new area that has so much potential for reshaping how we think about storytelling experiences,” McCampbell said in a release. “The ability to tell stories from multiple points of view and the ability to move the viewer from a role of spectator to that of a participant will serve as a brand new canvas for artists and designers.”