Edu-gaming 2

Edu-gaming 2
Tighten Those Graphics

Erin Hoffman | 29 May 2007 12:02
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And the infamous commercial? A marketing department debacle of which the college was quite aware. "They didn't really know much about the gaming world," Lynott said. New advertisements are currently in development and will be reviewed by the new professional advisory board.

Object Lessons
In the European game community, programs that claimed to teach game development but offered no experienced instruction of any sort leapt into prevalence a few years ago. "There was a mad dash to capitalize on game degrees. Most of it was utter crap, which resulted in an industry backlash and lack of acceptance," Della Rocca said. "This led to a more formal approach to accrediting programs."

The U.K. went through a graphics tightening incident severe enough to make Westwood look like masters of the marketing universe. The result was the formation of a game industry branch of the Sector Skills Council for the Audio Visual Industries. In 2006, the Computer Games Skills Forum, chaired by Eidos Product Acquisitions Director Ian Livingstone, selected four university programs in the U.K. for accreditation: two at the University of Abertay Dundee, one at the University of Paisley and one at the Glamorgan Center for Art & Design Technology.

Today, Skillset sponsors a GAMES:EDU conference to discuss games in education, held in Brighton.

Whether accreditation is next in the U.S. remains to be seen. With the large body of "live" game development occurring in the States, aspiring developers tend to educate and police themselves and the organizations that would offer instruction. And the question appears often: What should students do?

The IGDA itself is the first natural resource for students, and certainly has provided a vector into the industry for many. Student membership is arguably one of the best investments - outside of the development of concrete skills - that a student can make in his career. For the IGDA, Della Rocca was direct: "We want to be a valuable resource to all educators interested in game dev education and provide the resources and guidance they need to not suck."

The Passion
The game community's response to Westwood's commercial exemplifies its character. In nearly every other industry, education scams are accepted as a matter of course. To some they even serve a purpose, separating the wheat from the chaff - it's every dev for themselves, in other words, and if you get sucked into a scam, it's your own fault for being stupid.

But that's not the gaming community. Gamers and developers alike were outraged at this commercial; almost curiously so. One YouTube user who posted the video, "randomgenius," was especially upset: "The hill to success is hard enough without money grubbing colleges who offer no true training, but so eagerly take your money." While the advertisement was clearly a marketing mistake rather than representative of what Westwood actually teaches, this sentiment is rife among those trying to get a job making games. That no one goes into games for the money is an accepted truth, and the corollary to that fact is that anyone truly serious about a game career must be intensely passionate about the biz.

It is the job of any commercial to make life look easy. Commercials offer a dream world where our visions are delivered to us gently scintillating on silver platters. But for people like randomgenius, this illusion is salt in the wound. "[T]o make it appear that breaking into the industry is a cake walk is simply naive," he adds in his introduction to the video.

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