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An Interesting Look at the Video Game Industry

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the all-thumbs dept.

Games 361

Bamafan77 writes "USATODAY has an interesting article in their Money section on the video game industry. The centerpiece of the story is an overview of DigiPen, the only accredited video game university, but it also describes aspects of the video game industry in general including the explosive growth of the industry (e.g. Barnes and Nobles would've reported a loss without their Gamestop subsidiary) and how many universities not only fail to prepare students for the game industry, but still don't take it seriously. However, I believe things are slightly better than the days when Trip Hawkins (EA's co-founder founder) Harvard professor told him to stop wasting time with games."

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361 comments

Spot Rifts, Sport Sift, Fort Spits, First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

FirstPostRobot1 (631217) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806417)

Though I have pledged to be civil, I must take this opportunity to say...
All your First Posts are belong to us!
Take that, Mr. Hidden Goatse Link.

Generated by FirstPost! version 1.1.0

Re:Spot Rifts, Sport Sift, Fort Spits, First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806443)

Come on, that doesn't even rhyme. What kind of poem is that?

Re:Spot Rifts, Sport Sift, Fort Spits, First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806478)

Where can i download FirstPost! v1.1.0?

Heh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806421)

It's pretty well known video games cause violence among kids.. I think there should be a restriction on selling games to kids until they have enough common sense to know wrong from right.

Re:Heh, TROLL (0, Offtopic)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806437)

If I had moderator points I would troll this so up your eyes would pop out(sorry can't think of anything better to say)

Re:Heh, TROLL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806494)

Thanks for your well thought-out rebuttal.

Re:Heh (2, Interesting)

Mr Teddy Bear (540142) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806440)

It's pretty well known video games cause violence among kids.. I think there should be a restriction on selling games to kids until they have enough common sense to know wrong from right.

And who is going to detirmine this? You? I think not. It is impossible for any government institution to accurately say when every single child will be able to tell right from wrong. That, my friend, is up to the parents.

I still stand by the fact that video games do nothing to increase (serious) violence in anyone. If someone was going to snap they would have done it with or without the video games. Worst case is that the game may have sent the person over the edge a couple days sooner than he would have normally.
But I could be wrong.

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806467)

Heh.. they do it for movies, drinking, driving, smoking... why not games? I agree with you that videogames do not cause violence among normal people.. but children are still at a point in development where they are learning what is real and what is not.

Re:Heh (1)

Mr Teddy Bear (540142) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806562)

Heh.. they do it for movies, drinking, driving, smoking... why not games? I agree with you that videogames do not cause violence among normal people.. but children are still at a point in development where they are learning what is real and what is not.

Well, driving, I almost agree with, while I don't think everyone is ready at 16 and some might even be ready at 10 to drive, some limit needs to be set somewhere for that and 16 seems to be pretty good. Drinking and smoking I don't think should have age limits on them. I think drinking should just be plain illegal and smoking should carry a much higher tax. Which leaves only one other thing which you mentioned: Movies.

The rating system (up until NC-17 and X ratings) are merely suggestions. I have no issue at all with putting ratings on games, in fact I think it is a very good idea. It gives parents the chance to make an informed decision (and do it quickly when the kid is screaming about how they want it.) ANYWAY, this is a bit offtopic for the article so I will stop now.

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806489)

I have been involved in exactly one firearm dispute in my life, before XBOX, before PS2, hell it was even before PacMan, but after pong.

I blame pong for all of the violence in the world.

Re:Heh (1)

stormrage (626983) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806566)

huh ??? what a joke ? let me tell you if you did not know .... there are a lot of games which are non violent and are very good. there are a lot of games with puzzles to improve your thinking capabilities , imagination and what not? games can be used as a teaching tool for kids. yes i agree that there are some games that can cause violence among kids .. and most of the games are rated accordingly . yes its definitely up to the parents to decide on what their kids are going to play but .... the games can be made in such a way that it would be very pleasant for the people playing it .

I guess someone has to say it... (4, Funny)

ShadowBlasko (597519) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806484)

"Computer games don't affect kids. I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."- Kristian Wilson, Nintendo Inc. 1989

Re:I guess someone has to say it... (1)

Mr Teddy Bear (540142) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806525)

"Computer games don't affect kids. I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."- Kristian Wilson, Nintendo Inc. 1989

Which if you think hard about it... not too many pacman players are doing that. It is the kids of the pacman players. What that says exactly, I don't know... but I think it has something to do with parents being crappy.

Is this Quote Accurate? (1)

Viscount9 (612677) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806689)

So, can anyone tell me if this quote is accurate? On what occasion was it said? Where? What newspaper/speech/newspaper?

I've seen this quote alot and I've always wondered if its accurate and true.

Anyone knows?

Thanks

Re:Heh (5, Funny)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806512)

"It's pretty well known video games cause violence among kids.."

It's also pretty well known that the Earth is flat, the moon landing was a hoax, and masterbation makes you blind. I agree that common sense should be divvied out, but I don't think you're channeling it in the right direction.

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806544)

Point taken.

Games do make kids more violent (1)

danny256 (560954) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806633)

not significantly more violent, but at least a little bit. Its a contributing factor, at least that's what i've learned in every psych class i've ever taken. There have been studies that prove this.

Game devels ... (3, Funny)

YahoKa (577942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806439)

... aren't made; they're born :)

Re:Game devels ... (5, Funny)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806464)

No wonder my mom resented me so much.
The keyboard and mouse I carried out of the womb musta hurt like hell.

Re:Game devels ... (2)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806530)

"No wonder my mom resented me so much.
The keyboard and mouse I carried out of the womb musta hurt like hell."


Your mom was lucky. I was a Super Scope baby!

Re:Game devels ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806596)

I think you mean.. "You grammar nazis can bite my ass."

Re:Game devels ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806634)

Super Scope... was that that bazooka w/ scope for the super nintendo?

Me too! Me too! (3, Funny)

radiumhahn (631215) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806451)

I majored in tetris! I also have degrees in Donkey Kong Theory and Token Economics!

Re:Me too! Me too! (5, Insightful)

Mr Teddy Bear (540142) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806507)

"No wonder: Even while the economy struggles, the video game industry has become one of the fastest-growing forms of media entertainment:" - from article

Of course the video game industry will always thrive, just as the movie industry did in the 30's durring the depression. People needed an escape and those mediums provided the perfect way to do just that. These forms of entertainment will always do well any time when times are rough.

Re:Me too! Me too! (2, Insightful)

zapfie (560589) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806641)

I would daresay videogames might even succeed moreso than movies during these times, especially when you start talking about massively multiplayer RPGs a la EverQuest.

Give it another 10 years... (5, Insightful)

billethius (543553) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806474)

At the small private college I attend, we have absolutely nothing that might prepare us for programming in a game environment. Especially nothing graphical or in the realm of artificial intelligence. The only thing I have done with graphics so far has been writing a small solitaire program in java for a class on object oriented programming. And even then all we learned was enough to get the program to draw itself correctly. The focus was more on the actual objects in the program. As to artificial intelligence, there is usually a course offered here once a year, and I have yet to have the opportunity to take it, so we'll see how that turns out.

All in all, I'd say that most universities turn out computer science students who know how to program applications. Word processors and the like. I doubt that many universities take video games seriously because they only came onto the scene in my lifetime. Give it another 10 years and we'll see where things are at then.

Re:Give it another 10 years... (4, Insightful)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806547)

I don't think any of the professional game coders I've asked for friends have said they learned anything applicable to the industry in University.

When you tell that to the person wanting to know how they can get into the industry though, they don't want to hear it.

For someone without programming knowledge school is a good stepping stone, but currently you have to turn to online resources and bookstores to find the real treasures.

It might be quite a while before we see real growth in the area too... the people who really get it are too busy doing what they love... many of the most qualified would probably be miserable teaching.

Re:Give it another 10 years... (1)

Cyno (85911) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806709)

I would not be miserable teaching. I would be miserable making a teacher's salery or dealing with economics while I'm trying to focus on education and information related to my field of study. I've said it a million times, but no one seems to hear me. Capitalism and our overrated value of money is what is causing all these problems. If we simply cared about the work, making the programs, making the products, instead of caring more about money than anything... maybe we wouldn't notice that Joe Bob grabbed an extra turkey for Thanksgiving, while he hacked up a popular graphics driver or whatever. Its not like we don't have enough for everyone. Everyone has enough right now, they just can't afford to keep it. And so I can't afford to give my time away for free and teach you how to use computers. Vote no on Capitalism!

Re:Give it another 10 years... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806553)

Funny, my school (and I'll refrain from naming it, but it is a small private university in Dallas, Texas) offers an AI and a graphics programming class (OpenGL). In the graphics class, they teach you how to draw a small 2D shape like a rectangle or a square. And the biggest part of the code was getting the program to read from a data file.

In my experience the curriculum has been to teach theory with little application, which is great if you're going into academia for the next 10 years of your life, which I'm not. By the time I get out, I'll have little practical knowledge of what is being used in the real world. I'd love to work at a company that produces video games, but I don't have the experience to do anything. Perhaps you just have to get lucky and find a place that will train or maybe pick it up in your spare time. I wonder if this is how it goes at the other uni's?

Re:Give it another 10 years... (5, Insightful)

Evil Adrian (253301) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806635)

As far as college preparing you for programming in a game environment, what you learn in college (for Computer Science anyway) is mostly algorithms, data structures, and most importantly, how to tackle problems. The hope is that you will understand how to tackle any computer problem with an API reference and your knowledge.

I have programmed real-time video projects, yet received no training in college on real-time programming, graphics, video, etc. Would I have been able to do it without what I learned in college? Sure, but I would have had to teach myself for quite a while. The college education certainly made things clear-cut, and comparatively easy, for me.

What do you need to do video games? Programming experience, probably in C++... some linear algebra (so you can do the matrix multiplication that is so shmooper in 3D gaming), some Physics 101, OOP, Software Engineering, Computer Graphics... all standard for any decent school offering a CompSci degree. Really, you can do anything you want with computers with a CompSci degree.

The way I look at it, college prepares you for the video game industry as well as it prepares you for any other programming job. You can code anything as long as you sit down, think about the problem, and familiarize yourself with the tools you need to get the job done.

Re:Give it another 10 years... (1)

billethius (543553) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806706)

That's pretty much what I've been taught here too. More theory than actual applications. And I don't really have a problem with this. I think I probably could go out and work on games given my education that I will have recieved when I graduate. But my point was that there are no classes specifically geared towards game development.

Re:Give it another 10 years... (3, Insightful)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806710)

An RTS is just graphical accounting software.

If you learn the application of concepts instead of concepts, you're screwed no matter where you go.

I've taught myself how to make games by analizing how games work. I also taught myself how to code. My university is teaching me how to code well.

You don't need a university to teach you how to make games which is obvious since it's very unlikely that too many of those in the game industry went to DigiPen.

If "applications" (like Word, ect) geared university is going to screw you over when it comes to making games then a games based university is going to screw you over when you try to make a supporting app for your game project.

The fact is, you need a rounded understanding of concepts and it shouldn't matter where you start, you should easily beable to do both apps and games. Otherwise you need to come up with a new career idea because the concepts are very much the same.

I wasn't taught how to make games or apps. I was taught how to code. That's the way your education should be.

Ben

Hmm (5, Funny)

Patik (584959) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806482)

Trip Hawkins (EA's co-founder founder)
So he's the guy that found the guy that founded the company with another guy? Wow, what a guy!

Trip Hawkins (5, Funny)

SpaceRook (630389) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806490)

However, I believe things are slightly better than the days when Trip Hawkins' (EA's co-founder founder) Harvard professor told him to stop wasting time with games."

Gamers [toastyfrog.com] have been begging Trip Hawkins to stop wasting time with games for years. I guess Hawkins' prof was just ahead of his time.

speak it, brother (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806499)

how many universities not only fail to prepare students for the game industry, but still don't take it seriously

Yeah, when I tried to explain to them the reason I was flunking out was because of playing Final Fantasy, they decided to suspend me anyway!

Re:speak it, brother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806683)

You should of said you were researching the field that you would of liked to work in.

Co-founder founder? (4, Funny)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806505)

I'm confused. I know what a founder co-founder is (one of the parents of the founder), but what is a co-founder founder? The original from which the co-founder was cloned?

The game industry... (5, Insightful)

kaxman (466911) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806514)

...outsold the motion-picture industry by a billion dollars last year, and movie studios and record labels wonder why they are losing money? Come on! I've always thought that it was an obvious fact that 'x' dollars only go so far, and if some kid chooses to spend his allowance or paycheck on a computer game, there's that much less money LEFT to spend on a CD or movie ticket. Don't forget, either, that even just last year video games weren't nearly so prevalent. There are a lot more choices out there for me to spend my money on, but (go figure) I don't seem to have any more money this year to spend... The times, they are a changin', and the dinosaurs will be left in the dust.

Yeah, I sound just like a million other people, but I imagine myself and all those other people will continue to say the same things until they no longer need to be said.

Re:The game industry... (5, Insightful)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806632)

"Come on! I've always thought that it was an obvious fact that 'x' dollars only go so far, and if some kid chooses to spend his allowance or paycheck on a computer game, there's that much less money LEFT to spend on a CD or movie ticket. "

I think you're on the right track, but there's more to it than that. The Game Industry does a far better job of ensuring customer satisfaction than the Movie/Music industry does.

-Game reviews are plentiful.
-Demo/rental versions are easy to acquire to try out.
-You can trade/sell a game to try out other ones. There's more entertainment for your buck.
-You have the time to sit down and enjoy the game at your leisure. (as opposed to being at a theater by a certain time...)
-Mods, mods, mods...
-A bad game isn't as bad as a bad movie. (Your mileage may vary...)

It's funny, if you think about it: Video games cost quite a bit more than movies. You'd think that the industry would be all over trying to get things like P2P shut down. But they don't. They understand that people are willing to pay for games, they just need reassurance that the game will do what they want. (Hence the popularity of Demo CDs...) If the *AA would learn from that example, then maybe they wouldn't be $1B behind the Game Industry.

Re:The game industry... (1)

kaxman (466911) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806739)

You're right, I never really considered a lot of that. And, I suppose you get tons more replay out of a good game than you do a movie.

And...uh...I suppose there isn't a whole lot more that I can say, since I basically agree with you. ;)

Re:The game industry... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806643)

Actually, video games didn't outsell the motion-picture industry. They only earned more money than made at the box-office. When you add in the DVDs and rental monies, movies are back in the lead.

whohoo! (1, Troll)

Guipo (591513) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806515)

what I've always wanted! Quake 101, Doom 3 basics, and of course, star craft essentials for living 2a! Best College credits ever!

Free Games! (5, Informative)

MoThugz (560556) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806516)

DigiPen has a cool collection of downloadable games created by their students here [digipen.edu]... None of them open source though :P

Games industry (2, Interesting)

Funkitup (260923) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806518)

Personally i found the games industry very enjoyable at first. Then, once the novelty of having the latest gaming hardware and software in the office (Rebellion where we worked on AvP) wore off, I realised what the (western) industry really is like.

It's a macho male dominated industry where predominantly male ideas such as 'cars and guns are cool' and 'hit your competitor (colleague) before he hits you' dominate. The executives sell products to children which are antisocial, addictive and are rarely educational.

The people who work in the industry can be genuinely nice, and it is interesting work - but I didn't see the point meself. My particular company seemed to prefer to pay its staff as little as it possibly could get away with and the whole process of having to threaten to leave to get a pay rise left me with a sore taste in my mouth. I left before AvP was realised and hence didn't get a penny (not that i'd have got any money anyhow), or my name on the credits of the game.

Job Demand (4, Insightful)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806520)

There's sooo many people who would love to go into game development, there isn't really a need to specifically train people. Those who want it the most, will learn. It's hard enough to find a game job right now as it is, If we were spewing forth graduates with a BS in GD (Game Design) then what would happen.

But I'm happy making educational software [tomsnyder.com] ... it's more fun than business apps, is mildly morally rewarding, and doesn't require 60 hour weeks like I'm sure a lot of game shops gave.

Re:Job Demand (1)

skivvie (24247) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806637)

I'll tell you exactly what will happen... the same thing that happened with the web "design" industry over the past few years. Not so bright people figured out you could make money doing it as did every 2 year college on earth, whom quickly started offering "web associate degrees" and jonx like that. As soon as the thousands who went to school for web design and coding graduated, the bubble had burst and they were left high and dry, and flooding the market for those who'd already been in the industry for years.

The game industry is one of the few tech biz's making money right now, and it's STILL hard as hell to get a job in the industry. I've been in it for 2 years and have been trying to get friends jobs for as long, and most places just aren't hiring unless you've got at least 2 years experience. I can't wait to see what happens when colleges start adopting gaming industry programs and start spitting out crappy game makers.

I gotta say though... we are ALWAYS hurting for good console specific coders. They are almost always in demand. So i guess there is that. But like you said, the people who want to do it most will teach themselves, and that's the kind of people the industry wants.

One of the driving forces in technology (2, Informative)

very (241808) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806523)

Better games (look and feel; gameplay-wise, etc) requires more and more resources over time.
Anyone remember PONG?
Compare it now to any games made today. PONG is s simple and requires less hardware capability.

Gaming industry is one of the driving forces that PUSH the technology development.

Why would one need the latest and greatest Graphic Card?
Mostly for games......

Would video game specific education be necessary? (4, Insightful)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806528)

Judging from the dot-com fiasco, where it was proved wrong that "education doesn't matter, just stick some high-school grads on the problem, and they'll do it faster/cheaper than old farts", is "video game education" really necessary?

If I need someone to write a story, I'd hire an English major who studied playwriting.

If I need someone to make artwork, I'd hire a Fine Arts major

If I need a (virtual) space designed, I'd hire an architecture major.

And, if I need software written, I'd hire a math/engineering/computer science major.

Then, you'll get the job done right! I'm doing work for a company that a bunch of people with a degree in "Entertainment Technology" from a leading university. While many of these people are quite good, many times I feel we'd be better served if they hired smart math, engineering, fine arts, and English majors.

Re:Would video game specific education be necessar (4, Insightful)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806577)

"If I need someone to make artwork, I'd hire a Fine Arts major "

No you wouldn't. Then you'd hire an experienced artist who's done work that impresses you. You wouldn't punt them for lack of a degree. (If you did, you'd be making a serious mistake.)

The only reason I'm nitpicking this particular part of your post is that art is different from the rest of the professions you mentioned. A degree in art is very helpful for an artist, but it means zilch if you have no actual artwork to show. There are artists out there that can get by just fine w/o an art degree.

Re:Would video game specific education be necessar (2, Insightful)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806598)

Grrr....

Repeat after me:

Having a degree in a particular field does not make you an expert.

Yes, there are people out there using their degree everyday. However, many people in IT either A) Don't have a degree, or B)Have a degree in something completely un-related to IT.

YOU HIRE THE BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB, NOT WHO HAS THE SHINIEST RESUME.

Re:Would video game specific education be necessar (1)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806617)

Having a degree in a particular field does not make you an expert. Of course! But, you see, I was responding to a particular post about "VIDEO GAME SPECIFIC EDUCATION". The debate about whether having a degree in a particular field makes you an expert is a whole other matter.

A degree is a piece of paper. (1)

MatthewNewberg (519685) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806616)

A degree is a piece of paper. I would hire people who have already done what you want them to, then look at people who have peices of paper saying they can do what you want them to.

Why should they take it seriously? (5, Interesting)

Christopher Thomas (11717) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806536)

many universities not only fail to prepare students for the game industry, but still don't take it seriously.

Taking preparation for a video game design career seriously is like taking preparation for a rock musician career seriously. At best you can argue that it's an art that people can pursue out of interest. Claiming that universities in any way do their students a disservice by not offering it as a career-preparation stream is very silly.

In both industries, you have a very small number of people who can possibly make a living at it, because you just don't need that many providers in the mainstream market. This is even more true with video games than with music, as niche markets are few and local markets are nonexistant. Anyone who *isn't* one of the big players in either industry had better be doing it because they like it, and have a day job that they're trained for, because they'll have a hard time making a living.

Video game creation also doesn't require as much specialized training as music. It requires a _lot_ of training, but most of it is the same stuff you'd get doing a CS major or 3D or 2D art major or a drama/literature major (depending on the aspect of game design you're targetting). The usefulness of a specialized stream of study is questionable.

In short, I think the importance of "preparing people for the video game industry" is overstated.

Re:Why should they take it seriously? (3, Insightful)

Thomas M Hughes (463951) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806604)

Because there are a number of film schools in this country, and the market for video games is (arguably) comparable to the film Industry. There are also entire departments based on music and art. I seriously doubt that there's a market large enough for all those art students, but who cares? What if I just like art and want to get a 4 year degree? I think that's plenty reason to at least pay some attention to the video game market. Maybe not a department, but certainly a minor would be interesting.

There's a lot to making a video game. There's writing concepts you should know, art concepts to work with, physics concepts when needed, not to mention the fact that this all needs to be coded in whatever language is chosen. Some training _would_ be useful in this industry.

Re:Why should they take it seriously? (3, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806655)

Not to mention fundamental principles of game theory that you should know, and probably basic principles of AI that you should know, and probably other things as well.

Re:Why should they take it seriously? (2)

The Vulture (248871) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806711)

All of the concepts that you and your parent poster touched on are actually touched upon in any decent Computer Science curriculum at one point or another.

Here's what I'm afraid of - you'll get people who have their BSc. degrees in "games programming", however, it's really a "BS" degree, in that they don't know their stuff. I honestly find that people who have an interest in the field and persue the specifics of it outside of their regular curriculum are more likely to have knowledge that they can apply to more than one specific situation.

But hey, then again, I'm not the person hiring, but I'd really hate to have to work with one of those people.

-- Joe

Re:Why should they take it seriously? (2)

The Vulture (248871) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806671)

I'd have to agree here.

Most of the game developers that I met are actually people who took the normal Computer Science curriculum, and gained their real skills for the industry outside of school, working on their Commodore 64's for example.

Heck, it's how I got into the industry (been out of it for almost two years though) - some of my work on the C64 was spotted by my then-to-be co-workers and it made a good impression on them, and their bosses.

I prefer that the schools offer a balanced curriculum, and encourage those who want to focus on specific disciplines to do so on their own time. Or, alternatively, they can try to go to a school that focuses on said discipline, but I feel that narrowing your options isn't such a good thing. Not everybody can be a games developer, but if you have the "generic" skills, you can work in other areas, like applications, or embedded devices (which I work in now).

Remember, this isn't the "olden days", where school was used as a training ground for preparing you for that job in the factory assembly line... Well, then again, seeing some people that I've had to work with, maybe it is. :)

-- Joe

Re:Why should they take it seriously? (1)

Cyno (85911) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806750)

Yeah I know what you think. You think school is and should be designed to prepare people for work. I think school should be designed to teach people how to think. How many people get a degree and still have no clue what they want to do for a career? Its a lot. And why do we still insist on calling it a career if we're really just preparing them for something we want them to be? They're a worker, they're a slave. They don't have a choice to be a musician or game programmer because that would be unfair to you. I'm sorry you feel that way, I'm sorry you're so short sighted that you think people should work their entire lives in this system to support you. I don't want people to support me. I want all these CPUs and electric motors and software to suport me. I want my family to be well educated. I want them to have the oportunity to be more than what society expects of them. I don't want them to pay to be trained how to work at Taco Bell. Vote no on Capitalism. :)

The game industry is... (1, Offtopic)

InferiorFloater (34347) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806539)

getting assaulted by free candy and caffinated drinks when ALL YOU WANTED was to GET A FUCKING DRINK OF WATER AND GET BACK TO WORK!

I'm surprised game developers live past 40.

US of A Today (1, Funny)

reconn (578681) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806550)

"Dad, I think this paper is a flimsy hodgepodge of pie graphs, factoids and Larry King.

Hey, this is the only paper in America that's not afraid to tell the truth, that everything is just fine."

Studing and Gameboy.. (5, Funny)

McFly69 (603543) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806556)

Going to school and studing to be a game developer reminds me of the famous quote from Animal House.

"You can major in GameBoy if you know how to Bullshit".

Re:Studing and Gameboy.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806738)

When "Animal House" debuted GameBoys didn't exist.

don't waste your life like jon carmack did (-1, Troll)

GoatPigSheep (525460) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806569)

Lets talk about Jon Carmack. Jon is the legendary programmer of such classic PC games as Wolfenstein, Doom, Duke nukem 3d, Quake 1, 2, and 3, unreal, and the upcoming doom3. Jon has single handedly created the genre known as the first-person-shooter. He has also popularized the Direct3d 3d format over Microsoft's competing Opengl format, as well as caused public interest in 3d cards when he first released accelerated quake for the s3 virge chipset. Jon carmack has redefined gaming on PC's.

Now stop for a moment and think... What would have happened if Albert Einstein had worked creating amazing pinball games instead of creating the theory of relativity? Humanity would suffer! Jon carmack is unfortunately doing JUST THIS, using his gifts at computer coding to create games instead of furthering the knowledge of humanity. Carmack could have been working for NASA or the US military, but instead he simply sits around coding violent computer games.

Is this a waste of a special and rare talent? Sadly, the answer is yes.

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there. Not only is Jon carmack not contributing to society, he is causing it's downfall. What was the main reason for the mass murder of dozens of people in columbine? Doom. It's always the same story... Troubled youth plays doom or quake, he arms himself to the teeth, he kills his classmates. This has happened hundreds of times in the US alone. Carmack is not only wasting his talents and intelligence; he is single-handedly causing the deaths of many young men and women. How does he sleep at night?

Carmack is a classic example of a very talented and intelligent human being that is bent on total world destruction. Incredibly, he has made millions of dollars getting people hooked on psychotic games where they compete on the internet to see who can dismember the most people. I believe there is something morally wrong when millions of people have computerized murder fantasies, and we have Jon Carmack to thank. Carmack has used his superior intellect to create mayhem in society. Many people play games such as quake so much that their minds are permanently warped. A cousin of mine has been in therapy for 6 months after he lost a 'death match' and became catatonic.

It is unfortunate that most people do not realize how much this man has damaged all the things we have worked hard for in America. Jon has wasted his intelligence, caused the deaths of innocent children, and warped this country forever. To top it off, he got rich in the process and is revered by millions of computer users worldwide. Perhaps one day the US government will see the light and confine Jon Carmack somewhere with no computers so he can no longer use his intelligence to wreak havoc on society.

Re:don't waste your life like jon carmack did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806615)

i could have sworn it was Microsoft DirectX, and that Quake 3 was run on Open GL

if you're going to flame, get it right

Re:don't waste your life like jon carmack did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806701)

What was your point again? You took that in about 600 different, conflicting directions.

Re:don't waste your life like jon carmack did (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806714)

Great Troll! you're the man.

University (1)

MatthewNewberg (519685) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806575)

When did Digipen become an University? Is Digipen the only Game Design school? And is the Game Industry really in need for more programmers. Just becuase they make a lot of money, doesn't mean a lot of studio's are not closing currently.

No kidding (1)

TekReggard (552826) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806580)

I took a year long programming course, and the only "gaming" related material was to code a game of pacmac for the rest of the class to goof around with.

From the article: (5, Interesting)

KarateBob (556340) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806586)

Video game sales exceeded the movie industry's annual box office draw last year by $1 billion.

I'm thinking thats probably mostly from The Sims, and Grand Theft Auto 3.

Then I read the next line:

The current video game hit, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, sold more than 1.4 million copies at an average $48 apiece in its first three days. That $70 million windfall easily puts it in the ranks of a blockbuster movie.

Also, There was a 2 issue article in GamePro about "Take This Job and Love It!." Working in the video game industry. Heres a link to the lo-fi version, search for the pretty oneTake This Job and Love It. [gamepro.com]

Re:From the article: (0)

Sex_On_The_Beach (621587) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806695)

"..sold more than 1.4 million copies.." and there were about twice as many pirated copies in asia:P. Imagine what a shitload of money if everyone bought legit copies.

Will Program for Food (2, Informative)

Tomah4wk (553503) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806592)

Sadly the games industry is using less and less programmers, and more and more artists (so good for the artists at least). Look at major 3d games titles at the moment, and you have a small core team of developers (often as few as 10, normally more though) and, for the larger titles at least, 100+ 3d artists. With more and more games projects being based on generic engines and toolkits, and the serious lack of optimisation going into games (PC rather than consoles on that front) pretty soon there will be only a few of us left. Programming is also being outsourced from britain/us to places with cheaper, talented programmers in Italy and the like.

Digipen (3, Informative)

dknj (441802) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806593)

What I like the most about digipen is that you only take courses directly related to video game programming (or computer graphics design). None of this European History nonsense that I'm 99% sure I'm never going to use again.

Required Course List for a B.S. in Real Time Interactive Simulation [digipen.edu]

-dk

Re:Digipen (5, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806687)

It's often useful to interpret present conditions in the context of past events. If you find that European History has no relevance to your current situation or your future plans, then I hope that works out well for you. But please don't make any important decisions that might affect me.

Oh, and stay away from me at cocktail parties. I'm sure that a conversation that never strayed from the intricacies of video game programming would be almost instantly tiresome.

I interviewed at EA ... and turned it down.. (3, Interesting)

andymac (82298) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806595)

While games development is a great job for some, it is not for others. I like process, I admit it. I like to follow a methodology that promotes defined repeatable outcomes, that looks for ways to continuously improve the process, and thus the ability of the team to improve the quality of the outputs. When I interviewed at EA, they didn't need no stinkin' process. And I don't blame them: the product they produce is closer to a piece of art than a piece of software at times. Requirements management? Ha! How about ad-hoc requirements change up to the last minute? But that's the nature of doing something so creative... you need to change and tweak up to release. Should they teach this in Uni? No goddamn way. Why? Most software developers already are good at being creative: they take a requirement, a sentence on a piece of paper and translate it into source code that does something. How much more creative do you need? So teaching the finer points of game development, aside from the core stuff that is already taught in most CS degrees (graphics etc.), can be done as part of learning the job. Like an apprencticeship or co-op term. You learn the basic skills for any s/w development in school, then you refine and specify those skills in the real world.

Some universities do take games seriously (4, Interesting)

Black Copter Control (464012) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806600)

and how many universities not only fail to prepare students for the game industry, but still don't take it seriously.

I haven't been there for a while, but the University of British Columbia Computing Science department head in the early '90s (Maria Klawe) was interested in using computer games in education. Last I heard she was the University's Vice-President of Research (but she was still doing her own research too).

Just a wild guess, but I'd be inclined to bet that UBC takes computer games relatively seriously. Being in the home town of EA doesn't hurt much either.
(actually, EA is based in Burnaby -- a siamese suburb of Vancouver, and UBC is essentially it's own town at the other end of Vancouver, but that's picking nits).

Re:Some universities do take games seriously (2)

Screaming Lunatic (526975) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806735)

UBC offered a game development course taught by a bunch of guys from Radical [radical.ca]. You may remember them as the creators of Simpson's Road Rage.

This semester the same course was offered at Simon Fraser University. I sat in on it throughout the semester. It was one of the best courses I've taken. A lot of profs know the theory. But having someone from industry teach a course is great since they get their hands dirty on a regular basis.

Porn University? (5, Funny)

jwdeff (629221) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806605)


With the porn industry with estimated $11 billion in annual sales (besting the video game industry by $1.6 billion), where's the Porn University?

I feel many universities not only fail to prepare students for the porn industry, but still don't take it seriously.

Re:Porn University? (1)

cybergeak (318482) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806638)

I would have to say that art related colleges do prepare their students by having them model nude for art classes and the like.

Re:Porn University? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806657)

I think it's more of a study-at-home mentality at work here. Like the Amish.

Re:Porn University? (5, Funny)

Aexia (517457) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806707)

With the porn industry with estimated $11 billion in annual sales (besting the video game industry by $1.6 billion), where's the Porn University?

I believe they're called "Fraternities & Sororities."

Anyone up for Quake 101? (2, Interesting)

dethl (626353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806613)

The University of Texas at Dallas has a new Art & Engineering program that just started up...They brought in two game designers John Romero and Tom Hall to teach a few classes on game programming. Theres a story on it in the college's own publication the UTD Mercury [utdallas.edu]

Game preparation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806618)

Here on the university of twente (yes, the one with the burned down building and the backup-yadda-yadda) I had a course in general 3d graphics and game principles allthough it was just an extra course you could opt in for, still, it was there and quite some fun, beside the part where you had to use java3d for an assignment.

Unversity not needed to be that specific (4, Insightful)

Vorgo (448106) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806624)

I would argue that a University Education in Computer Science is intended to introduce the students to a broad range of topics in the field of computer science, not something as specific as game development.

To say that Universities should offer training for video game programming is ridiculous.
The intent of taking Computer Science at University is not to even learn how to program. A person takes courses that teach programming languages in their first year and then after that it's assumed that you can program, regardless of the language. A person is there to learn about the science of computers: stuff like algorithms and design at the early levels of a degree and more advanced topics such as graphics, AI, distributed computing, etc in later years.

I would say that game development would be an application of various topics in to one. Software Design, Graphics, AI, etc. So in reality I think that a course on game development wouldn't be useful anyway because it couldn't get in to enough detail on enough of the involved topics.

After leavign university a person should be able to take their knowledge and do with it what they want because they have a general knowledge of many topics. Whether they apply that knowledge to writing an operating system, word processor or the next version of Quake is up to them to decide.

This is just my view of what a university education should give someone. For all I know other areas of the world view a university education differently...

my two cents(cdn)

Job Opportunities at an up-and-coming game company (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806628)

Dear Slashdot Community:

We're a small video game company looking for the absolute best and brightest that the Slashdot community has to offer, and we know we're looking in the right place!

We need software engineers, senior software engineers, Programmer analysts, and other positions that will allow you to work with the latest and greatest hardware and programming tools. We're releasing 5 titles on XBox, PS2, and PC for next year, and we need these positions filled immediately! Visit our job search [shorl.com] section of our website and browse the available jobs to see if your abilities match our required skillsets. You can use our online application method, or send an email with your resume to the addresses given on our contact page.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Gianna Oates
SAC Technologies

Hahaha, that was good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806697)

I think that girl was actually dating goatse for a while.

The gaming industry is just fine (2, Insightful)

NixterAg (198468) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806663)

many universities not only fail to prepare students for the game industry, but still don't take it seriously ...and the gaming industry has prospered nonetheless. Let's not fix what isn't broken.

what about ip issues? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806664)

Computer games are based on this illogical copyright scheme now. If you think copyright is gonna last, you are a moron.

Universities are taking notice. (2, Informative)

ct.smith (80232) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806667)

I'm not sure how all universities are, but I think some are starting to take games and other media seriously.

The University of Calgary, where I am, has a concentration for games in the BSc comp-sci program. Probably the first university to do so, but it is refelcetive of a changing attitude in universities I think.

Stanford does (3, Interesting)

Texas_Refugee (258092) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806679)

Please see CS248 [stanford.edu] . The final project of the class is to make a video game. I went to the showing last year, and the games kicked ass. There were people from the game industry that came to judge the final product, they recruited people pretty heavily if I recall correctly.

community of teachers and students is the key (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806680)

The main advantage of going away to college is being surrounded by challenging teachers and students at your level. DigiPen is a great opportunity if you know that is what you want to do. A larger place might offer more breadth in topics and people, if that is what you wan to do.

Universities (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4806682)

should not take the video game industry seriously. There should be trade schools for that. In fact, programming requires less skill than blacksmithing did a century ago, so perhaps this whole IT and programming racket should be relegated to a wing of the Refrigeration and TV Repair academy. Also, you weanies should form a union. Think of it as a guild, you petty bourgeois hacks.

Focus on Video Games (5, Insightful)

kakos (610660) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806691)

While I don't think that video games should be ignored in universities, they shouldn't be focused on. Like most things, the application of a field shouldn't be taught. The foundations of that field should be taught and the student that learned those foundations well will be able to apply them to anything.

Similarly, Computer Science should not be taught as a course in game development. A student that is taught nothing but game development will fail miserably if they do anything else. And, in my experience, students of so-called video game schools know how to slap down code, but don't understand the workings of that code. You probably couldn't give them a original piece of code and have them understand it immediately.

However, a student who is taught the fundamentals of programming and the basis of computer science will be able to adapt to create games. He knows the foundation and will be able to apply it to a specific task. Furthermore, they will have the expertise to work outside of that field, should they not get a job as a game developer (a very real possibility).

A broad understanding of the fundamentals and foundations of Computer Science is better than learning a specific application. A good programmer will be able to adapt and could probably end up programming a better game than the one taught to just make video games.

Incorrect Info in Story (3, Informative)

spongebob (227503) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806727)

DigiPen is not the only accreditted school instructing Game Development. There are several others including Full Sail in Orlando that are fully accredited with thier state organizations.

There is a list at the main page of the International Game Developers Association page listing all the schools instructing game design and development. www.igda.org

How to know you haven't grown up yet.. (2, Insightful)

Keck (7446) | more than 11 years ago | (#4806757)

"However, I believe things are slightly better than the days when Trip Hawkins (EA's co-founder founder) Harvard professor told him to stop wasting time with games."

Ok..
-- better than what? You've given away your view as someone who thinks everyone should take gaming seriously. Everyone has the right to think games are worthwhile, or not.. oh what a dumb unenlightened harvard professor that guy must have been, huh? Just because there's a market for something doesn't make it 'worthwhile' or prove that Hawkins is the one in the right .. just the one in the dough

-- I play Unreal with friends but I still consider it a waste of time ... is this hypocritical? NO.. to say so would be to assume that it's wrong to 'waste time'. Doing it too much is just as bad as doing any other thing to excess; doing it in moderation is healthy like many other things (but not all)
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