Menacing, metallic and mega-gun brandishing, the cyber super soldier looms over Richard Fleming’s desk. Not exactly stereotypical for a professor’s office at Johnson County Community College? Well, as the "Gears of War" crowd might say: "Eat boot! Suck pavement! Get back into your hole!" This professor under the "Halo 3" figure teaches video game development. So lock and load, zappers of Nazi zombies or the locust horde. All those hours wearing out your thumbs in front of "Halo" or "Gears" actually could mean a college degree and fast career path, reports the Associated Press. Before you drop your joystick, remember a degree in video-game design is math and science laden. Or it could involve serious art skills. This year, 254 of the nation’s colleges and universities in 37 states have such programs, up 27 percent over the year before. At first, computer information science program leaders resisted bringing in video-game courses, recalled Jeff Huff, assistant professor of graphics at Missouri State at West Plains. "They didn’t see them as worthy," Huff said. "It was real easy to dismiss it by saying, ‘They are video games, how important could it be?’ " According to the Entertainment Software Association, which monitors the game industry, video-game design is the fastest-growing industry in this country.