Teacher finds games texts no fun

MCCC faculty member now published author

Charles Kelly, with a copy of his book, says he was driven to write it because available texts were outdated and inaccurate. The cover is by an MCCC student.
Charles Kelly, with a copy of his book, says he was driven to write it because available texts were outdated and inaccurate. The cover is by an MCCC student.

MONROE — Charles Kelly, an associate professor of computer information systems at Monroe Community College, grew tired of the outdated and inaccurate textbooks his students were using, so he wrote his own.

Working in his office, and over the summer when he was not teaching, he completed Programming 2D Games, a 425-page tome for his course in beginning game programming.

The book, which took Mr. Kelly a year and a half to research and write, has been released by AK Peters Ltd./CRC Press, a science and technology publisher.

Mr. Kelly had the cover art — a rocket ship of the sort found in video games — done by Nicholas Wilson, a student at MCCC, who used 3D modeling and took on the project at the suggestion of CheriLea Morton, his Photoshop instructor.

The book is available at the MCCC and Barnes and Noble bookstores and on Amazon.com. The retail price is $59.95, but a Kindle version is available for $47.96.

A sample can be viewed at programming2dgames.com.

Mr. Kelly said he is happy with the finished product, especially now that his students no longer must use textbooks he considered subpar.

"Part of the reason I wrote this book is that a lot of the textbooks were outdated," he explained.

"I was supplementing them with my lecture notes. The first year, I just printed out my notes and gave them to the students, telling them, ‘Here's what you can use for your textbook.'?"

Other texts, he said, contained errors because of inadequate research.

"There are a lot of books out there, and there are a lot of mistakes. People don't spend the time needed to research. There are fundamental errors in some books. That's not uncommon in this field," he said.

Mr. Kelly, 54, lives in LaSalle Township.

He grew up in Monroe and graduated from Monroe High School and MCCC.

He received another associate's degree from Lake Superior State University and went on to receive a bachelor's degree in engineering technology from the University of Toledo and a master's in computer science from the University of Michigan - Dearborn.

He has been teaching full time at MCCC since 1995.

His courses fall under the school's business division, where the dean, Paul Knollman, said Mr. Kelly has been making his mark for a long time.

"It is just in his nature to see where there was a need — for a new game programming text — and take the initiative to meet that need," Mr. Knollman said.

"Having a published author in that field as part of the MCCC team brings a level of professionalism, expertise, and prestige to our community college students that is often reserved for university-level educational opportunities."

Game software is a big industry with remunerative jobs for programmers possessing the right skills, Mr. Kelly said.

"It's a multibillion-dollar industry that surpassed the motion picture industry a few years ago," he explained, and illustrated what he meant with the example of one game, Grand Theft Auto 4, which recorded first-day sales of $310 million.

He encourages his students who are serious about pursuing game software to transfer to UM - Dearborn to gain a bachelor's degree in computer science.

Two of his transfer students there received the chancellor's medallion, which is awarded for a graduating student's academic record and personal qualities such as integrity.

Mr. Kelly said he hopes his book remains current for two years, after which he may put out a second edition, although this would depend on the wishes of his publisher and changes in technology.

He said he enjoys computer games but stays abreast of the latest in the industry more out of professional and intellectual interest.

"Gaming is just a natural offshoot of computer programming," he explained.