My Perfect Game Design Degree

My Perfect Game Design Degree

To close out the student series of Inside Job, I want to recklessly tackle head-on what appears to me a glaring lack in most game education programs: a definition system for a degree in game design.

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I wish I'd read this sooner.

"Some colleges, particularly smaller ones hungry to differentiate themselves from larger, slower research institutions, have made the claim that they teach game design, but the vast majority of them don't live up to their claims even remotely. "

That's my school right there. Here at CSU Monterey Bay we have a Game Design emphasis in the Information Technology and Communication Design (ITCD) major-- basically computer science. Only two semesters of "Multimedia & Game Design", and even with that I am very skeptical of the quality of the courses. The rest of the curriculum? Flash.

Even more frustrating is that I tried approaching faculty about my feelings of the game design curriculum only to be told I'm wrong. In fact a faculty member I talked to told me that game design is all about technology, such as Flash, and that if I wanted to write for games, I should change majors and try and get a job as a writer for a gaming magazine. I was offended because I made an effort to present information I had tracked down online from industry professionals, but he just swept it aside (I had even printed out several pages). I was very polite but it doesn't seem like anyone cared, as they dismissed my comments rather quickly. They should not be offering a Game Design emphasis here with the current curriculum.

I wish I had noticed sooner and not during my 3rd year here, but I am transferring ASAP to another larger university where I have more options. Even though I'm sure it will be a more flexible learning environment, it still will probably be far from perfect. In order to get an education I can be confident with, I'm going to have to work hard and stack on the units. If I had done some research I could have started off at a better school. Now I'm set back. There's a lesson there for any aspiring game designers seeking an education.

Yikes. I'm sorry to hear about your experience. And I know that what you're describing is exactly what a lot of game developers tangentially interested in this whole games-in-academia development -- and, to be fair, a lot of academics themselves -- are afraid of.

It's unfortunate that the academic world, just like the 'real' world, is full of sharpsters and people who want the sparkly part of something without putting in the research or hard work. Game studies are kind of like that -- they're the next hot thing, the next big uncharted territory in academia. Most academics are stuck trying to find something original to do research on in a world full of papers on so many subjects already, so the lure of new territory is too much for some of them to resist, even if they have no idea how it works and no experience with it. Couple that with a blanket attitude that no *professional* or *technical* (these are derogatory words) person could possibly have the rigor or enlightened understanding that an academic can and you get some truly colossal attitudes in universities. Not everywhere, but often enough. Academia is its own virtual world with its own virtual rules. The up-side is that their sheltered/alternate status means they can do some really interesting work when the right people get installed there -- I have several favorite people in academia, and I've tried to interview most of them for the Inside Job.

I'm hoping that your experience is a rough spot in the transition to more formalized standards for game education. I've experienced first hand how unresponsive colleges can be to feedback from their students -- it isn't uncommon in technology fields for the students to actually be working ahead of the curve of local academics. I think your decision to hit up a larger university is a sound one, and good on you for at least trying to show your college the light. Not your fault that they couldn't see it, but very sad you got caught in the crossfire.

The good news is you can always become a game designer by doing, and there is very little education that *doesn't* apply or can't someway be applied to game design. What's here and in the followup column (which you might want to check out, too) is advice on a clearest-path, but there is no one path, and you already have the most important characteristic, which is the ability and willingness to go outside of established norms for your information and edification. Good luck to you, and let me know if I can be of any help.

I thought the live is a scalloped fleck in the passage to author formalised standards for spirited upbringing. I've tough low help how insensitive colleges can be to feedback from their students -- it isn't special in subject comedian for the students to actually be working forwards of the bend of anesthetic academics. I judge your pick to hit up a larger university is a fit one, and fatless.


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