LISD teams up with Gearbox, Microsoft


Video games have become a multibillion dollar industry in recent years, and Longview ISD is developing a partnership to give our students the inside track to a career in gaming.

Longview ISD teams up with Gearbox, Microsoft

Mon Sep 21, 2020

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The video game industry has become a multibillion dollar industry in recent years, and Longview ISD is developing a partnership with some corporate heavyweights to give our students the inside track.

Last month district officials took one step closer to starting a brand new program on three campuses that would see students starting on a path towards making video games for a living. A conference was held between administrators from Microsoft, Texas-based video game developer Gearbox Software, Texas Southern University, and Longview ISD.

The program that has brought all of these different organizations together is GBX Creative Computing Curriculum, from Gearbox. It will see video game design and production come to Foster, Judson, and Longview High. This will allow students to take their first steps towards becoming video game developers.

Aaron-T-02“We are teaching students the ins and outs of working with The Unreal Engine, the same software that powers ‘Fortnite,’" said Aaron Thibault, Gearbox Software Vice President of Strategic Operations. "This program introduces students to the core creative computing skills that are employed in the videogame industry to design and develop the most popular games in the world.”

Thibault said these are the skills that are most important to many other modern industries that use computer visualization and simulation, from automotive design to artificial intelligence engineering. 

"Students who complete this project-based curriculum will be capable of making their own functioning game software, and they will explore specializations that are in high demand by videogame, animation, architecture, civil engineering, special effects, and many other employers around the world,” he added.

Where It Began

GearboxIn 2012, Joe Manns, who is the Foster video game instructor and founder of Thirsty Minds, reached out to Gearbox with a request for assistance to guide the development of a videogame program at the college level in Longview, focused on digital art, animation, and game design.

“After several years of working with Joe in his after-school digital art program, meeting wonderful LISD staff like Shalona McCray and Elizabeth Ross, and having speaking opportunities at Longview area schools, we felt that Longview ISD may be a good partner to pilot our new ‘worldbuilding’ computing curriculum,” Thibault said. “Last year, we had an exploratory meeting with (LISD) about opportunities for Longview students in the game industry, important challenges that we face as top tier employers, and how a closer relationship between Gearbox and Longview can both benefit students and support our future hiring goals.

Microsoft“It was clear that Gearbox and Longview share beliefs in high standards for student performance, the need for industry assisted teacher training, entrepreneurial thinking, and career exploration as part of technology education that supports ambitious students’ career goals.  We discussed our extreme need for hiring talented individuals with healthy teamwork mindsets who are skilled in art, technology, engineering, math, and design. We also discussed the need for more diversity in the industry; as Randy Pitchford, CEO of Gearbox Entertainment is fond of saying: ‘Our mission is to entertain the world.’ To achieve our mission, we need our development team to be more representative of all the kinds of people who are in the world. Longview’s diverse population is a perfect location to reach lots of different kinds of people, and we will hopefully inspire students to consider future careers in games and creative technology.”

Collegiate Partnerships

TSUTexas Southern University and LISD faculty are working together, engaging in teacher training as a cohort, and managing the growth and implementation of this program.

Students from LISD middle schools, high schools, and TSU college students, will be working together and helping each other with motivation, peer mentoring, critique, and developing a community of creative thinkers. TSU faculty and students will be developing technical underpinnings and code for Unreal Engine applications that will enable LISD students to have custom learning experiences in their courses.

Corporate Partnerships

Microsoft is working with TSU and Longview to provide resources for students to compete in The Imagine Cup and to support this new program as we discover what we need to help students be successful.

Career Opportunities

By the end of 2019, the video game industry generated $120.1 billion in sales from video game hardware, software, and accessories. For comparison, in 2009 the industry had a reported revenue of $19.7 billion.

“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” (Released in October 2019) earned more than $600 million during its opening weekend as well as had the best digital launch of any “Call of Duty” title to date.

The amount of money that the industry made last year, as well as the amount of a single game made in a single weekend, shows that video games are no longer a casual entertainment or entertainment of a small group of people.

Gaming Careers

The industry is booming compared to just a decade ago. With an industry that is booming means more career opportunities for the students of Longview ISD.

The video game industry has companies all over the world developing games throughout the year with job opportunities available all the time. 

To learn more about the different career opportunities that exist go to for more information about what your future could possibly hold.