Our Academy


Our Program

The be.next Game Design Academy is a part of the be.tech Charter School Academy in the Manteca Unified School district.

When be.next was designed, we were told to create a high school that we would have wanted to attend.  Being major video game fans, we recognized how designing video games could be used to reinforce and teach lessons from nearly every other core discipline in academics.  We are not just "gameifying" our courses.  be.next is not about playing games, it's about making games.  Creating characters, exploring environments, and telling stories.  It's about math in game programming, physics of game objects, English lessons for storytelling, historical scenarios for game development, and the science of character biology and anatomy.  We are using game design as a foundation for an entire education. 

This two year program is for Juniors and Seniors that are interested in pursuing a career in video games design, character design, or computer programming.  Our philosophy is simple:  Flexible learning, customized to the individual student's needs and interests.  Our program includes all of the core classes required for graduation and college admission, while also offering students time during the school day to explore, experiment, and more importantly, learn how to teach themselves new skills.  One of our key learning concepts is teaching students how to teach themselves.  The ability to seek out new knowledge and gain new skills is one of the keys to success in today's society.  Most traditional programs feature structured, instructor guided lessons. While this is necessary for many subjects, we have integrated time into each day for the students to work on individualized projects, while the staff acts as mentors rather than instructors.  This "experimental time" is a place for students to explore, research, and practice new skills without the fear of failure or the pressure of deadlines and due dates.

The Academy features four year-long Game Design courses, delivered over a two year program.  Seniors entering the program will normally be placed in Level 1 courses, unless Game Design 1 has been completed as a CTE/ROP course.  Core classes are delivered in a hybrid format, utilizing both online and instructor-led sessions.  For students interested in game design, but are not quite ready to enter the academy program, we also offer stand alone game design courses.  See the CTE Course section at the bottom of this page.

Transportation is provided from MUSD high school campuses to the be.next campus, located at Lathrop High School.  Students enrolled in the academy are eligible to play sports for his or her home high school, as well as participate in any activities at Lathrop HS or their home site.  Our program allows for limited credit recovery.  Students that are required to make up classes may be eligible to complete those courses using our online course catalog. 



Academy Courses

Level 1 - 11th Grade

Period 1:  Character Design - Practical to Digital is a complete course on character design including drawing, sculpting, 3D modeling, and costume design.  Students will create a variety of characters using a wide range of mediums from traditional clay maquettes to rendered 3D models.

Period 2:  Core Classes - A mix of online and instructor-led lessons, this period is when core classes are assigned.  Students meet with a subject area instructor twice a week for each core class, and participate in project-based lessons to supplement the online content.

Period 3:  Character and Prop Design / Maker Lab  - This class is divided between hands-on life skills labs, digital literacy labs, and student driven shop time.  During the life skills labs, weekly guest presenters teach our students practical skills needed for life after high school.  From changing a tire, to using basic hand tools, the labs cover a wide range of essential skills.  The Digital Literacy labs cover basic computer skills, from assembly to networking, students practice computer and technology skills that are vital for today's workplace.  The remaining three days of the week are spent working the character and prop replica shop, learning how to use a wide range of tools and equipment to create character masks and prop replicas.  Our shop is equipped with a Makerbot Z18 3D printer, CNC machine, Epilog Laser Engraver, Vacuum Forming Machine, as well as a wide range of power and hand tools.

Period 4:  Game Design 1 A UC A-G approved College Prep Math Elective, Game Design 1 is an introduction to computer programming and game design.  Students program several games, before moving to 3D level design and game theory.  We use commercial game engines and assets to create games in the same methods used in the video game industry.



Level 2 - 12 Grade

Period 1:  Game Art - Models and Environments covers the development of game environments and game assets for use in the classroom projects.  Students develop game assets using Maya, 3dsMax and Blender.

Period 2:  Core Classes - A mix of online and instructor-led lessons, this period is when core classes are assigned.  Students meet with a subject area instructor twice a week for each core class, and participate in project-based lessons to supplement to online content.

Period 3:  Character and Prop Design / Maker Lab - This class is divided between hands-on life skills labs, digital literacy labs, and student driven shop time.  During the life skills labs, weekly guest presenters teach our students practical skills needed for life after high school.  From changing a tire, to using basic hand tools, the labs cover a wide range of essential skills.  The Digital Literacy labs cover basic computer skills, from assembly to networking, students practice computer and technology skills that are vital for today's workplace.  The remaining three days of the week are spent working the character and prop replica shop, learning how to use a wide range of tools and equipment to create character masks and prop replicas.  Our shop is equipped with a Makerbot Z18 3D printer, CNC machine, Epilog Laser Engraver, Vacuum Forming Machine, as well as a wide range of power and hand tools.

Period 4:  Game Design 2 continues the lessons from Game Design 1 into Game Theory.  Students work on more advanced game types, using the Unreal Engine, with a focus on VR titles.



be.next Facilities

Our program is located at 647 Spartan Way, on the Lathrop High School campus, in Lathrop California.  Our facilities include two computer labs, a fully stocked prop replica workshop/maker space, a student reference library, and a life skills classroom.  Our classroom computers are high-end gaming systems, and we use only industry standard software for most of our classroom applications.  The equipment in our classrooms is the same as that being used in game development studios around the world, so our students are learning skills that are directly transferrable to future careers.  Our current lineup of software for game development includes Unreal Engine 4, Maya, Mudbox, 3dsMax, and Photoshop.  The hardware in our lab and shop includes gaming desktops from iBuyPower, Saitek Flight Controls, VR gear from Oculus and HTC Vive, mask making equipment from The Monster Makers, Makerbot Z18 3D printer, Epilog 50W Laser Engraver/Cutter, Roland CNC machine, and a Centroform Vacuum Forming Machine.  In addition to our facilities, students are able to use all of the Lathrop High School facilities, including clubs, athletics, and other student body activities.



 

 

 Students using SimCity during Economics class to reinforce classroom lessons.

 The be.next character design lab.

 

 

 Field trip to EA Games

 Field Trip to the USS Hornet


 





Career Technical Education (CTE) Programs

Computer Programming and Game Design 1 and 2

For students interested in exploring computer programming and game design, but don't want to enroll in the Game Design Academy Charter School, we offer two ROP/CTE courses in game design and programming.  The courses are sequenced, and Game Design 1 is required before enrollment in Game Design 2. 

Game Design 1 is an approved UC A-G College Prep Math Elective for college bound students.  For general education students, Game Design 1 may count as a 3rd year of math toward the MUSD graduation requirements.

These two courses offer the same basic curriculum as the be.next program game design program, but do not include the character design, art, or core subject material.  The CTE programs are considered regular electives, but are one year in length, and will count as two choices on the course selection ballot.