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Amen: Six Students Who Shouldn’t Develop Games

August 22, 2008

Richard Bartle preaches the gospel over on Edge Online with Six Students Who Shouldn’t Develop Games.

They’re good at playing games, so they’ll be good at making them! This is like saying that you’d make a good brewer because you like beer, or that you’d make a good singer because you like music. It doesn’t necessarily follow.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2008 2:39 pm

    “Here are some stereotypes of people I interview who don’t make the cut.”


    There’s something sad about rejecting otherwise qualified students based on an interview. We’re not talking about a job here; we’re talking about education, where we learn and grow and perhaps change our minds as we become less arrogant and more realistic.

    Too stuffy for my taste.

  2. August 22, 2008 9:41 pm

    The problem is that there is limited space even in academic programs. For every “how hard can it be?” type that they let in, someone with a genuine passion and ability may be excluded because they don’t have enough room to properly teach them.

    The harsh reality is that some people shouldn’t get into game development. That article isn’t being stuffy, it’s trying to explain that you have to be more than “someone who kinda likes games” to really do well in game development. Sometimes game developers take it for granted because we do have a strong passion for the work.

  3. Eric Doty permalink
    August 23, 2008 10:26 am

    I never had the chance to get a degree in game development, but I would guess its right up there with two of the harder degrees, Architecture and Engineering (I have the latter). By the time I graduated more than half of my peers had failed out or transferred to different degrees.

    In a degree like Game Design where there are a lot of applicants with the “ooh this looks like fun” mindset, I don’t see a problem with being a little harsh. Hell, change a few words and this article could apply to all college applicants, regardless of what degree they are applying for.

  4. August 24, 2008 2:15 pm

    I just hate the idea that you can determine the worth of a person based on an interview. Perhaps it’s because I don’t interview as well as other people, but I’m glad I never had to justify my desire to study computer science.

    At least there’s always the option of going indie, avoiding the corporate mindset that apparently even universities are gladly adopting.

  5. August 24, 2008 4:40 pm

    the good news is that you can’t tell from an interview, particularly at the undergrad level. Since many potential students have never looked at games critically before, what they may want to study is often as much of surprise to them as it is to profs. You can only tell as they work their way through. I have seen modellers turn designer and designer turn environmental artist. At the grad level, there is a much more rigorous “interviewing”. For instance, to come to SCAD to study game design, you are required to show 5-7 games in digital or non-digital format. It’s a competitive program, and you want to make sure that the best get in.

  6. August 24, 2008 7:29 pm

    Yes. I can understand the need to ensure that graduate students are talented and reasonably comfortable with their particular field of study.

    As I think about the differences between graduate and undergraduate programs, I only object to Bartle’s piece because he seems to be talking about undergraduate programs, and is discussing personality traits that at such an early stage might better be corrected through instruction and practical experience than used as a reason to dismiss a candidate outright.

  7. jCaskey permalink
    August 25, 2008 12:51 pm

    @adrian lopez

    But I still get the feeling that they don’t turn absolutely everyone away who shows bits of these characteristics. It does seem a bit harsh to deny someone that kind of opportunity, but in the cases listed above, it seems like it’s for the best, for both parties.

  8. August 25, 2008 1:28 pm

    To be honest, I agree with Bartle. As a Computer Science major, I’ve seen several classes where about half the students dropped out, and we were told to expect this. There was a guy I tried to help who seemed to be a bad fit for the degree. I would describe him as a cross between #1 and #3. By the end of the class he agreed.

    With the idea of having “a common first year for all students wanting to study one of: computer games, software engineering, artificial intelligence, networks, security and straight computer science,” I see this as a necessary evil. Unless they have several times the first year classes then higher classes, they aren’t going to have room for those who would stick with it.

    As for the interview, I can understand it. If it is done so the interviewer knows what to look for, those who are going to stick it out will be kept. Simply put, not yet ready and should try a different field both equate to rejected.

    Lastly, I’d take the linked article as the really short version trying to say that not everybody should try for this direction, because it isn’t right for everybody, especially these stereotypes most of the time. Yes there are exceptions, but as general rules these sound pretty accurate from my experiences.

  9. August 25, 2008 4:20 pm

    A lot of the advice in the article is reasonable and some of it seems like common sense. Especially the “How hard can it be”. Even if you only make games as a personal hobby you know it isn’t easy. Its really fun a lot of the time but it isn’t simple and it isn’t easy. Sometimes I mentally kick people in the brain when I say I want to design games as my career and they say thats awesome and they wish they could play games all day because its fun and easy.

    In terms of achieving communication I don’t think the whole “If you think/act this way, you shouldn’t do this” approach works as well as the “If you want to do this successfully perhaps you should avoid doing this” approach. Or even the “This is a generally wise practice if you want to do this” approach would be good though it tends to be soft. Yes they all can express the exact same thing however they are not interpreted by the reader the same way. If you read the very first comment on his article you’ll understand why a revision in the approach might be desirable. Not that I think anything is wrong with making people angry because I actually find it hilarious. Maybe that was part of the purpose of the article…

    If someone says you shouldn’t do something and you still want to you then do it anyway. If you succeed then you’ve earned the right to laugh at them. If you fail then they can laugh at you. Your stubborn value and logic value will determine how you process the risks and rewards of the situation.

    Penguins with machine guns belong in a frozen Jungle searching for the portal to hell that has been melting their newly acquired land gained from the Emperor Penguin’s imperialistic nature. Or perhaps they are simply at war with the evil sea lions(Though machine guns don’t work well underwater). Sometimes completely ridiculous ideas are the most fun.

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