Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Culture Shock: Competition

The old joke goes something like this:
Q: Why is the infighting so fierce in academia?
A: Because the stakes are so low.

In the game industry, if you need help from someone else in the company, they generally go out of their way to help you. It's intrinsically understood that you're all on the same team, working towards the same goals (i.e. shipping the game, and remaining profitable), so helping your co-workers is just helping yourself.

In college, everyone has their own agenda, and other people's agendas run counter to yours. If you ask someone else for assistance, they may not give it to you unless it serves their needs as well. In fact, they may work to sabotage your efforts if they think your success will cost them resources later on. This is doubly true if you're trying to get help from someone outside your department, as is often necessary when you're teaching an interdisciplinary subject like game development.

For example, ever since the start of Summer, I've been looking to reach out to Computer Science students. If any of my undergrads are going to actually make games, they will either need to know how to program (a rare trait in a telecommunications major) or they will need to know someone who does. Tonight, I met my first CS student -- just one. I'd like to find at least five more that are interested in game development, before winter break, so they can register for a class where they can make a game on a team...

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