Today I want to talk a little about the next generation of game developers. When I decided to go back to school to pursue my passion for computers and gaming it was easy for me to choose the path of study I wanted. My dream job has always been to be involved in the development of games, and with hundreds of schools adding game design as a major of study in the last 5 years, it's obvious there will be a lot of competition for positions in the field. My decision was to go the programming route, since I already had a very good understanding of graphic and multimedia design. Having the ability to understand all aspects of game development is very important.
Now I sit in class next to the game design majors, who have very little understanding of programming, and a vague idea of how Maya or 3DS Max works. I can only feel sorry for them, I almost feel like schools are lying to them. With all the students graduating with game design degrees, the ones that are getting the jobs are the ones that CAN write the game themselves, or CAN come up with concept, or production art themselves. They all have an understanding of game design as a whole.
Now to my point, and why I decided to stray a little for this weeks entry. I was sitting in the lab at school working on a Java program for class. Also in the lab was a C++ 101 class, one of the students near me, a game design major, was talking about how he hated programming and, now read carefully, how he didn't know why game designers needed to know anything about programming! My mouth literally dropped open. He continued to talk about how his philosophy of school was to not do his homework and get by with any grade as long as it was a C or better, it was all just for the diploma anyway. Now believe me when I say I'm not real worried about this guy being involved in making a game I'm looking forward too, but he's not the only example I bring to the table.
In many of my classes I see these same students, some game design majors, some programming majors, even networking students. I hear them talk about how they haven't finished their homework, they didn't feel like it, or they went out drinking instead. They don't seem to really care what they learn, just that they pass the class. I was in a group with some of the students in my major and we got to talking about how life would be on the job. One student said he could understand how easy it was to program once you were putting 40 hours a week into writing code, but that right now he was struggling because he only worked on it during class. I was a bit confused, considering we've all been told over and over that we need to put in at least 8 hours of work on the material outside of class, every week. He went on to say that he doesn't enjoy sitting around and writing programs in his spare time. Many of these students I talk about like video games and feel that if they just pass their classes and graduate with a degree they can sit around and play games all day for a job. It is beyond me how they ever came to think this. If you do even the least bit of investigation as to what it takes to produce a game these days you know it's a lot of hard work, with the few weeks leading up to release requiring intense dedication.
We need visionaries! We need the next generation of game designers to be programmers and artists with ideas, people who pursue those ideas no matter what. People who are passionate, who spend their spare time writing code because they want to see their ideas and visions come to life. Yeah, there is money in it but if we want our hobby, our passion to really blossom we need game designers who are devoted artists to what is, at the deepest level, an art form. Here is to hoping there are others like me out there, lets show the world that gaming is more than an escape for lazy children!