Opinion: Think of the children

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Posted 1:29am on Fri 17 July 2009
VG_Staff
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Opinion: Think of the children
Could the government do more to engage the developers of tomorrow?

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Posted 1:29am on Fri 17 July 2009
FantasyMeister
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Could the government do more to engage the developers of tomorrow?

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You can currently do 3 and 4 year BA/BSc degrees in Computer Games Development, Computer Games Design, Interactive Games Design, and can even get more specialised and do a 2 year HND in Games Testing, degrees in Games Culture, Animation, Modelling, A.I. etc. UCAS lists over 300 such courses at roughly 80 establishments just in England alone.

Back in the 80s when I was in education and home computing was just taking off, we had home brew computer clubs at school but none of the above further education options existed so we were left to read Ian Stewart's books ('PEEK, POKE, BYTE and RAM' etc) in our own time if we wanted to advance.

Today anyone is fully enabled to go into further education to study game design related courses, even if they flunk school any adult can take a 1 year Access Course to get a University place on any if not all of those 300 plus courses.

I'd say no to making it a GCSE/A-level subject though, kids have enough to learn these days and I think school should be about nurturing an interest and giving them the basics so that they can decide what they want to do rather than churning out 'ready for work' at 16 or 18.

E.g. what would be the point in having a A-level in Games Design if they can't express their ideas in English or configure a bit of mouse software?

Personally I think the educational infrastructure is all there, the courses are in place, you've got giants like Electronic Arts sponsoring a lot of new courses and studios, as well as smaller games companies developing links with local education, and as these programmes have only been around a decade or so they'll continue to be tweaked and developed until they're as natural as doing a degree in Criminology, Psychology or Equine Sports Performance.

Maybe we will see some more games design oriented content in the GCSE syllabus, but I think it'll just appear as a module of IT or Media Studies rather than a fully fledged subject of its own. In the same way, they never taught Film Studies in my school as part of the GCSE curriculum, it was an optional after-school activity although if you shop around you'll find a GCSE being taught for it.
Posted 1:59am on Fri 17 July 2009
CheekyLee
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In response to FantasyMeister's
You can currently do 3 and 4 year BA/BSc degrees in Computer Games Development, Computer Games Design, Interactive Games Design, and can even get more specialised and do a 2 year HND in Games Testing, degrees in Games Culture, Animation, Modelling, A.I. etc. UCAS lists over 300 such courses at roughly 80 establishments just in England alone.

Back in the 80s when I was in education and home computing was just taking off, we had home brew computer clubs at school but none of the above further education options existed so we were left to read Ian Stewart's books ('PEEK, POKE, BYTE and RAM' etc) in our own time if we wanted to advance.

Today anyone is fully enabled to go into further education to study game design related courses, even if they flunk school any adult can take a 1 year Access Course to get a University place on any if not all of those 300 plus courses.

I'd say no to making it a GCSE/A-level subject though, kids have enough to learn these days and I think school should be about nurturing an interest and giving them the basics so that they can decide what they want to do rather than churning out 'ready for work' at 16 or 18.

E.g. what would be the point in having a A-level in Games Design if they can't express their ideas in English or configure a bit of mouse software?

Personally I think the educational infrastructure is all there, the courses are in place, you've got giants like Electronic Arts sponsoring a lot of new courses and studios, as well as smaller games companies developing links with local education, and as these programmes have only been around a decade or so they'll continue to be tweaked and developed until they're as natural as doing a degree in Criminology, Psychology or Equine Sports Performance.

Maybe we will see some more games design oriented content in the GCSE syllabus, but I think it'll just appear as a module of IT or Media Studies rather than a fully fledged subject of its own. In the same way, they never taught Film Studies in my school as part of the GCSE curriculum, it was an optional after-school activity although if you shop around you'll find a GCSE being taught for it.

» Go to FantasyMeister's original post
Whilst the courses are there, what I think you fail to realise is how they are perceived. A first class Games Design degree is no more likely to get you a job with Rockstar than a Desmond in Maths. You would really need to get on one of the specialist courses to have it mean anything. Part of the problem is that there are 300 courses, each with its own distinct take on the core. My own degree was called Computer Games Production, but it was ultimately a course in middle management, which is why I left it.

Speaking as someone who has seen firsthand what such courses can consist of, I would barely be able to defend them against anyone who slapped the 'Mickey Mouse' badge on them. When my first year consisted of "Audio Principles" (digital sound techniques), "Platforms" (a sort of potted history of computers), "Scripting" (Javascript), "Creative Technologies" (basically how to use digital cameras and Flash), "Data, Networks, and The Web" (Data modelling, network descriptions, and HTML), and the SOLE games related unit "Introductory Games Studies", then you can see why such courses are not taken seriously. Honestly, I felt as if the work being demanded of me was more suited to college level.

I'm also not sure that games design can be entirely academic, at any rate. Certainly we can discuss and dissect great games with the hopes of understanding what makes them so, but to be able to then somehow imbue people with creativity as a result? Knowledge only takes people so far, there is still always going to be a quantum between what is great in theory and what is great in practise.

All that being said, I applaud anything that moves towards taking games more seriously. As a fully fledged ludologist, how could I not?
Posted 8:47am on Fri 17 July 2009
GlitcH
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Could the government do more to engage the developers of tomorrow?

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Nice in put lad's I'm impressed and aware of these courses as I was a fraction away from choosing them instead of graphic design. Who know's where I could end up, after teaching in a few years, this is great.
Posted 9:36am on Fri 17 July 2009
Karlius
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Could the government do more to engage the developers of tomorrow?

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Actually Lee as with all IT courses most follow a structure.

1st Year is a basic overview of the subject in question.
2nd Year is more in depth but still for those that want to get on this seems pointless.
3rd year should then specialise.
Same with mostly all courses. And when i took a multimedia degree course back in 2000 I quit for similar reasons to yourself its not until I have now taken a Computer Science Degree that I realised this.
Posted 11:13am on Fri 17 July 2009
nch2k1
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Could the government do more to engage the developers of tomorrow?

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When I was at scholl some 13 years back now, we had a youth centre that we could go to at break, lunch and even after work. In this centre there were maybe 15-20 master systems that people could play on, but tucked away over in the corner there were several commodore 64's where a couple of the IT teachers would be showing kids how to program VERY basic games. I dont know if this has carried on in the years since I finished school, but I do know that some of the kids at the time were so impressed with what could be done that they would go away and try themselves (normally resulting in frustration as it never worked); but I'm sure there must have been one or two that 'got' how to do it and moved on from there. If you can inspire one or two people then thats a job well done as far as I'm concerned. Oh and I was in the 'never worked' catergory, so I just went back to playing paper/rock/scissors in Alex Kidd :-)
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