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.
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.
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.
In response to “Back to Basics” from The Escapist Forum: This article was great in many ways. Very interesting and quite poignant. However, there was one point I have to disagree with strongly.
Games are NOT older than novels. They are older than film in the non-computer sense. If you allow a regression from your subject of computer gaming to just gaming, then you have to regress on film and novels too. In that case, novels are the oldest, because their ancient form, the verbal saga, is far older. I’m talking thousands of years older, here.
It just seemed unfair to regress one medium and not the others, wording it in that way. But I liked the enthusiasm.
Good article. Good ideas in it. Still, we’ve never had this problem in our course. The whole class was split into groups of two or three and tasked to create 3 levels in the Quark toolset for Quake II. My level wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. My other two members though did a fantastic job. Excellent lighting, perfect map layout. I was team leader of the project and I must say I definately learned from my team what makes a good map (the map also had to be the general shape of the first letter of our name).
In saying that, perhaps it was the way the class was taught what makes a good map during class? Could also be the toolset you used in modding Counter-Strike?
In response to “Don’t Knock the Aztecs” from The Escapist Forum: One weird thing about Civ IV that never sat right with me was the inclusion of tribal villages, which were little more than random resource acquisition points. On one hand, a game that presumes to teach history is technically correct in rendering these ‘non-cultures’ as targets for assimilation and conversion into assets, since that’s what often happened. On the other hand, the way tribal villages are represented reveals an inherent Westernized perspective on development and colonization. The player doesn’t even have the choice to leave these villages alone (they are automatically negated and converted into resources once your sphere of influence reaches and encompasses them). Specifically European advancements and achievements are also given a rather weighty presence and value.
I hate politically-correct indignation as much as the next guy, but even ‘learning’ games like Civilization are wide open for these kind of critiques. The good news? At least they get people thinking and talking. Open dialog is better than glossing over colonial history.