Tiga Questions Value Of Game Courses

Tiga Questions Value Of Game Courses

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Tiga, a trade association for game developers in the U.K. and Europe, has questioned the value of videogame courses in the U.K., saying graduates are leaving educational institutions lacking employable skills.

In a speech at the the Northern Exposure conference, Tiga CEO Fred Hasson said, "What companies have been telling us is that very few of those graduates that come out of so-called games courses are fit for purpose. In fact, one quote we had back from a company was, 'we don't know if we'd even use them for QA.'

"Basically, these courses are a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but no basic foundations for a skill set."

Tiga is in talks with the U.K. government to examine the changes and opportunities for the country's creative industries, a process Hasson said is essential in order for the games industry to stand out as a unique component of the sector. "For better or for worse, the games industry is lumped in with all the other creative industries," he said. "If we don't tell the government what we want then they're not going to listen."

According to its website, "Tiga's overarching objective is to keep developers in the UK and Europe at the heart of the global games industry, by ensuring a favorable business environment." Members include Codemasters, Midway, Free Radical and numerous other studios and affiliated businesses. Tiga provides a wide range of information and services to developers, publishers and other parties, including model contracts, R&D tax credit information, and liaisons with various levels of U.K. government.

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I'm currently sitting one of those courses and my classmates view on the course is varied. The most common remark is that they feel the content doesn't seem relevant. I feel the content is often relevant but is too varied.

Each semester, on my course, one of the 3 modules has been tailored with games design/programming in mind. The other 2 are typically general computing classes shared with other courses. Sometimes the classes try to summarise the basics of a more advanced course. For example we have to know advanced maths for programming in 3d so they teach us about some of the content which is necessary.

My biggest concern is that they're teaching both design and programming (and some other things to fill the time table like level design and multimedia editing). So even if you feel you are learning useful skills you still think that only half of the course is going to help you in the industry. I personally want to focus more on the programming because I'm very good at it. However, it wasn't until my 3rd year (my current year) that I was allowed to even touch C++. Even then we were thrown into the deep end. We were expected to have already been taught some C++ on another module which we hadn't (I had decided to learn some over the holidays after 2nd year luckily) and we then had to learn the basics within a fortnight before moving on to learn DirectX. I managed with no problems as I am a good programmer but my class mates weren't as good. When it came to our group coursework I had to do almost all of it myself as my team mates didn't consider themselves programmers.

As for games design, a lot of people on the course (even the ones who want to be designers) feel it is disheartening. It seems to be less about taking a good idea and developing on it but rather pestering people with questionnaires to build up a persona of someone who doesn't actually play games to justify to a publisher that a game can have 'mass' appeal. Oh, and that persona stuff is meant to be done before even scribbling down an idea. We are constantly told that we can't make games for ourselves because we, 'avid' gamers, make up only a small amount of the potential market. I can see the purpose of user centered design in improving games but I feel that the western market in video games is dieing because of the publishers need for demographics. Designers have to make a game that pleases the producers of the game more than the players. On my course if I want to design a game, I want to design my own game. I find it hard to imagine musicians and script writers thinking about what the market wants, they just make a demo or draft and see if anyone will take them on. I would rather learn how to make a design specification than an imaginary friend who only plays Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo.

The 2 reasons that most people are still on this course are that they still have good friends on the course or it's too late to back down with the student loans looming on the horizon.

I remember when "multimedia" was a buzzword and the schools were looking to cash in on the demand from businesses. There was one course that was so haphazardly designed (the curriculum must have been developed by someone's nephew) that the students knew that it was worthless halfway through and banded together to demand their money back. Apparently, they got a large portion back. History has a funny way of repeating itself, Pottsy. ;-)

The quality of game courses is going to be a crapshoot, due to their novelty. Even if it's accredited, there's just not enough experience in designing them to be sure that it's effective. Hoping that the institution is willing to adapt the course to meet the students' needs can only get you so far; as a profession, game development is not yet so entrenched that it is possible to get by without taking significant initiative and effort to educate yourself. If this is a problem for you, then you've very probably picked a bad time to get on the bandwagon.

Of course, game development education is never going to get better without guinea pigs like you and me.

Bongo Bill:
Of course, game development education is never going to get better without guinea pigs like you and me.

My university has had a Master degree course for post-graduates for a while before I came. I joined the Bacherlor Degree course though on it's second year running and quite a few things were changed due to feedback from the year ahead of me.

We're going to be taking a close look at these kinds of courses in The Escapist in a couple of weeks. I think the key is, as with most colleges and college courses, it depends on the professor and the program.

oh yes, depends of the professor, of the program, but MAINLY of the students too. i can see some of them dont have the initiative, the guts, necessary for make games.

 

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