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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Educational degrees in gaming

9 posts found
  Arclan

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 1/29/07
Posts: 1372

"Ideas are worthless. The only currency that holds any weight is the ability and drive to execute."

 
OP  4/11/13 2:35:24 PM#1

(Rewriting this post, to better reflect my position:)


In the past week, I've seen one person with a doctorate on game design; and another with the title 'professor of game design." This really excited me. Academic focus an elements such as gamer psychology, I believed, should lead to excellent games in the future.


Then I had a scary thought. How long has this curriculum existed? Are today's WoW clones the product of this new field of study? God I hope not.

Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.
In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit
video game company layoffs are twice the national average.

  maskedweasel

Tipster

Joined: 9/24/07
Posts: 7264

"Kids, try imagining how far the universe extends! Keep thinking about it until you go insane."

4/11/13 2:41:22 PM#2
Originally posted by Arclan

In the past week, I've seen one person with a doctorate on game design; and another with the title 'professor of game design."


On the one hand I think it's great if universities have a course on game design. On the other hand, I assume lots of people have graduated from them and we have them to thank for the craptastic games coming out today?


Hope I'm wrong; that these newly educated game designers are just now entering the game making industry. Because even a high school dropout can see 90% of MMOs coming out today are 'copy WoW.'

I think this post is a little misguided.  Degrees in game design haven't been around all that long, in comparison to other technical degrees.  In fact, many colleges don't even have full programs related to game design.  

 

As I've met and dealt with a few people who have been in these game design classes, you might be surprised to find that many of them aspire for private development in indie games, while others usually end up with small jobs doing a required position.  

 

Your next triple A MMO isn't going to be created by the guy just out of college.  Your next fun new indie  PC, iOS or Android game might be though. 

"Loan me a Dragon I wanna see space"


  nerovipus32

Novice Member

Joined: 1/15/11
Posts: 2716

4/11/13 2:45:25 PM#3
Well they do have degrees in drama and acting so i don't see why a degree in gaming shouldn't be taken seriously. We are not talking about a small industry here, it's a multi billion dollar a year industry.
  Yyrkoon_PoM

Novice Member

Joined: 9/27/12
Posts: 150

4/11/13 3:37:15 PM#4

It really depends on what studio or game company you end up working for. I've worked at studios where positions are tied very heavily to degrees, so a guy with 5+ years of game design experience would be passed over because someone with a game design degree applied for the job.  The industry has changed over the years and there was a time where things were done because experience and knowledge said it felt right to make a design choice. Now it seems to come down to book knowledge and other metrics that drive game design.  It seems that once schools started offering programs in video game design, which seems to have happened at about the same time as economic golden years started, the reasons for getting into games changed from a passion to make awesome games to more of earning a paycheck kind of vibe.

The degrees are not really the problem, as there are awesome people who have a great passion for gamming who get degrees. The problem could be caused by many different changes in the industry like the bottom line, turn over of talent between projects, watered down talent (instead of a team of superstars working on a game you may only have one), Lots of EGO involved in making games, and finally something as simple as the distribution of power among the teams working on a game can lead to disastrous results (if the quest team is given 60% of the budget bad things happen).

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13419

4/11/13 4:00:48 PM#5

I'm somewhat skeptical of the notion of a doctorate in game design.  There are real degrees in game design, though.  And for people who teach at a game design college, why wouldn't the college call them a "professor of game design"?

The value of a degree in game design is of some dispute.  I looked into what Full Sail offers just out of curiosity.  Someone who gets a degree in game design will take exactly two math courses along the way.  Total.  They do a pretty good job of hitting all of the "you can't do anything with 3D graphics at all unless you know this" topics.

And then they stopped there and didn't really teach anything beyond that.  Asking someone with that background to create or even modify a 3D graphics engine is a very bad idea.  He simply won't have the math background for it, and in some cases, will have to copy and paste formulas without understanding what it's doing or why.  Still, that's plenty of background for someone who is going to work elsewhere in game design and just needs some idea of what the graphics engine is doing without needing to actually modify it himself to do exactly what he wants.

And there are a lot of game mechanics that I wouldn't want someone without a good background in probability designing, either.  It's not that he won't be able to make the game run as opposed to crashing.  It's that there will be a lot of places where he should do something that will make the game more interesting, but won't know how to do it and won't realize it.

Now, there might be jobs in game studios where a game design degree is tremendously valuable.  I'm sure that there are a ton of positions in game development that I know little to nothing about.  But a degree in game design surely isn't everything you need to know to actually make games.

  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2300

4/11/13 4:06:41 PM#6
Getting into the gaming industry and working on a AAA title hasn't gotten much easier and newly graduated designers are looked at with a lot of scrutiny compared to anyone that has shipped a title. It still comes down to how much talent and work you have to show for. The way games are has more to do with market trends than it does with new developers.

Let's build the ultimate MMO 1 feature at a time
http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/398555/page/1

  maskedweasel

Tipster

Joined: 9/24/07
Posts: 7264

"Kids, try imagining how far the universe extends! Keep thinking about it until you go insane."

4/11/13 4:09:36 PM#7
Originally posted by Yyrkoon_PoM

It really depends on what studio or game company you end up working for. I've worked at studios where positions are tied very heavily to degrees, so a guy with 5+ years of game design experience would be passed over because someone with a game design degree applied for the job.  The industry has changed over the years and there was a time where things were done because experience and knowledge said it felt right to make a design choice. Now it seems to come down to book knowledge and other metrics that drive game design.  It seems that once schools started offering programs in video game design, which seems to have happened at about the same time as economic golden years started, the reasons for getting into games changed from a passion to make awesome games to more of earning a paycheck kind of vibe.

The degrees are not really the problem, as there are awesome people who have a great passion for gamming who get degrees. The problem could be caused by many different changes in the industry like the bottom line, turn over of talent between projects, watered down talent (instead of a team of superstars working on a game you may only have one), Lots of EGO involved in making games, and finally something as simple as the distribution of power among the teams working on a game can lead to disastrous results (if the quest team is given 60% of the budget bad things happen).

I don't usually see this nowadays.  Usually jobs require a portfolio rather than a degree in my experience.  Perhaps big companies are different.  In most cases, the know-how and being able to show you've been on previous successful projects is more important then a degree out of college where you really only get a rudimentary idea of working within any kind of team.

 

I do agree with your second paragraph though,  I feel like there is a problem with some of the turnover of some great talent and the distribution of power.  I think a well designed game comes from all angles instead of a single person with an idea when they have a minimal scope of what exactly is possible with their current resources.  

 

You see this in big games like what SWTOR did with the Hero Engine, where it may have been better for them to create or modify an existing engine as they were originally known for,  and you see it now in "games" like GreedMonger where the ideas of one person correlates to the direct mismanagement of the project as a whole.

"Loan me a Dragon I wanna see space"


  Jerek_

Novice Member

Joined: 5/08/04
Posts: 398

4/11/13 4:21:06 PM#8
The idea of getting a gaming design degree is appealing to me because I have passion for games and a lot of experience as a player, but the industry itself isn't at least from what I know of it.  I'm trying to find my way out of an industry thats moved away from long term employment to temporary and contract work already, and gaming design seems to be plagued by the same thing plus even more relocation around the country.  Getting a second or advanced degree is a lot of risk with no sure paycheck at the end.  This is just my perspective as a total outsider though, maybe I'm misjudging it.
  maskedweasel

Tipster

Joined: 9/24/07
Posts: 7264

"Kids, try imagining how far the universe extends! Keep thinking about it until you go insane."

4/11/13 4:24:10 PM#9
Originally posted by Quizzical

 

Now, there might be jobs in game studios where a game design degree is tremendously valuable.  I'm sure that there are a ton of positions in game development that I know little to nothing about.  But a degree in game design surely isn't everything you need to know to actually make games.

This is actually a very good point.  In fact, there is no single path in game design as far as I know.  For example, I've gone back to get my degree in Computer Science, which - in itself is an interesting idea.  A small background, I have experience in VB, .Net, HTML, Java and C++, but never had a degree... and I found it interesting when finally going back to get my degree that at my college campus, they offer the same courses with very different paths and languages, none of which is really explained up front.

 

Needless to say, much of my path, including my Programming and Math classes, coincide with some on the Game Development Path.  But something very interesting about that, is that there are three different paths, all with different experiences entirely within each path.  Its almost like a skill tree in a game itself.

 

For example, in my early programming classes, I met a lot of students who had never programmed before.  Some students taking their second programming class were outright confused as some of their other classes designed with modifying engines would use C++ or C#, and their first introduction to programming was in Java.  

 

On top of that, one of the degree plans was directly related to Game Management, which was basically designed around storyboarding, with very little programming, engine, and 3d graphic related courses.  Any one of these paths might get your foot in the door, but in my experience I don't see it producing a very rounded developer.

"Loan me a Dragon I wanna see space"