Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Gin, Juice, and Videogames

The Escapist Staff | 2 Jun 2009 12:12
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In response to "Ivory Tower Defense" from The Escapist Forum: Great article. When I first started learning about engineering and programming, I did so on my own, and learned in a very practical hands-on matter. Stepping into a bachelour's degree in university was an entirely different world and a lot of the same prejudices where present.

The independence from commercial goals has a huge effect on the freedom and creativity that academia can encourage, and while some of these ventures may not culminate in anything practical and marketable, sometimes it opens entirely new fields. Consider even the computer itself -- born as an academic novelty, it has become a ubiquitous part of our lives.

On the other side of things, experience is undeniably valuable. The myopic vision of those in the ivory tower is a reality for some. It becomes apparent when somebody tries to take an arbitrary research project and market it; often, the idea isn't practical enough or there is no interest for it in the market. Sometimes the academics get lost in their interests and what they learn is of no use to society at large.

Overall, your article makes it clear that a stronger relationship between industry and academia would be advantageous to both of them. Academics could stir up the stagnancy that industry has fallen into, while industry can keep academia within the realm of the practical and usable, while sharing lessons with them that can only be learned through experience.

- ReverseEngineered

Wonderful article. It touched on so many important things, some new and some old. It is close mindedness on either side that is the paralyzing deficit, not whether or not you are an academic or an uneducated person with experience. Insecurity and ignorance drives statements like, "I have no respect for people who teach in a game program who haven't worked in the industry." Such sentiments really don't make sense because, beyond death, there is no such thing as "real life" and some assumed and hypothetical "unreal life." Actually, anyone can acquire experience but getting an advanced degree is another matter. Both are valuable but it's a backward notion that gaining a difficult and valuable Ph.D. is somehow a bad thing. I hope we can bridge this gap but it exists in many fields. Working together will only benefit the gaming industry.

- MeowCat

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In response to "Games Dev 101" from The Escapist Forum: As fun as these courses look, I honestly can't see Sony or EA hiring someone with a media A-level and a "game design" degree over someone with maths & physics A-levels and a computer science degree. Kojima/Suda-esque hirings just don't happen any more.

I think a lot of youngsters see senior figures in today's industry who got their first job by randomly walking into an office in 1988 and assume they can do the same. But times have changed. The only modern positions which are based solely on ability (as opposed to qualifications) are artistic, i.e. skills which cannot be taught.

Game designers are almost always going to be senior figures who have been in the industry for a decade or more with a traditional trade (usually programming). To convince students that they'll be designing games after finishing a college course is misleading.

- Harhol

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