Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Culture Shock: Industry Jargon

When talking about game development disciplines (programming, game design, art, sound, production, QA), one thing I've noticed is that the industry vocabulary has not been adopted by most academics.

At GDC, there were a number of times when I introduced myself as a game designer and was immediately asked "so, what language do you program in?" Well, I happen to be a C++ man, but that's beside the point -- design is not programming. I would advise any developer applying for a professorship to explain game development and their specific role during their job interview, just so everyone is clear on your experience and area of expertise.

Here's another example: one of the courses I'm teaching this fall is called Game Development. Game developers will look at me in horror for this; the field is so broad and interdisciplinary that it's impossible to teach in a single course. You would need a twelve-semester sequence to cover everything. If all you have is a single class, you'd need it to be so abstract that it's functionally useless. A course in game development would make about as much sense as a course called Science or a course in Art.

As it turns out, this particular course is about how to build game prototypes. We'll start with paper and work our way up to digital prototyping. The focus will be on expressing and communicating ideas -- as efficiently and cheaply as possible -- through the medium of game prototypes.

So, in a sense it is a class in game development, as students will be one-person dev teams on small game projects. But no one in the industry is likely to know that from the name. In future years, I hope to rename the class to "Digital Game Prototyping" or something similar.

2 comments:

Dan Roy said...

Glad to here about the class. I'm a big believer in the importance of prototyping, and I'm looking into starting a class on it as soon as next spring. I definitely want to hear about yours.

Patrick Dugan said...

It sounds like that something most industry professions could benifit from.