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CCCC Game Programming and Design credential—Our Experience thus Far. Dr. Lewis Pulsipher Certificate devised by Bob Joyce and Mike Orsega Web site for this talk: My Goals Today. Our experiences with our game classes so far

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CCCC Game Programming and Design credential—Our Experience thus Far

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cccc game programming and design credential our experience thus far

CCCC Game Programming and Design credential—Our Experience thus Far

Dr. Lewis Pulsipher

Certificate devised by Bob Joyce and Mike Orsega

Web site for this talk:

my goals today
My Goals Today
  • Our experiences with our game classes so far
  • What we did in our first game class
  • How our certificate is organized
  • Discuss the diversity of the industry—much more than video games
  • I am not going to talk about game programming per se -- nor about game engines etc.
who am i
Who am I
  • Began playing commercial wargames in 1963
  • Played the original Atari 2600 and have played some PC games heavily, but rarely play any video games these days; never owned a game console
  • Designer of five commercially-published board wargames; next one forthcoming this Fall (Britannia Second Edition)
  • Active designer of board and card games (playtesters solicited!)
  • Also working on boardgames for online play
  • My main job is teaching networking, Internet Tech
cccc s philosophy
CCCC’s Philosophy
  • Tom Sloper, Chris Crawford, others recommend well-rounded education for game industry workers
  • Techniques change very quickly, so why teach specific techniques?
  • We want people to understand games from the developer and manufacturer viewpoint, understand the industry, understand what makes games good
  • Consequently, we do not need many classes, but they must be game-specific, and we must make games
courses in the certificate
Courses in the Certificate
  • CSC 192 Intro (“Topics” class) (2 credit hours) Fall
  • CSC 293 (“Topics” class) (3 credits) Spring
    • Students programming original games in DarkBasic
  • GRA 151 Graphics in Gaming (2 credits) Spring
    • Students programming games in Flash; this may change
  • CSC 285 Programming Project (3) Summer
    • Students programming a boardgame they designed in CSC 192
  • CIS 115 Intro to Programming (3) non game-specific
  • CSC 134 C++ Programming (3) non game-specific
  • MontE Christman, the game programming instructor, is teaching DarkBasic programming Saturday
intro to gaming
“Intro to Gaming”
  • Two contact and credit hours; would be better with three or four contact hours
  • Two textbooks, one about game design, one about getting into the industry
    • Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design. New Riders; 1st edition (May 2003) 
    • Break Into The Game Industry: How to Get A Job Making Video Games by Ernest Adams. McGraw-Hill; 2003.
  • Students individually required to create preliminary design for a video game and write a “game treatment” for it
  • Students in groups required to design a prototype of a non-video game (board, card, etc.)
  • No programming required in this class
intro to gaming goals
Intro to Gaming--Goals
  • Make students aware that:
    • you cannot just take some classes and walk into a game industry job
    • most people making a living from games do not work on “Big-Time” off-the-shelf video games
    • programming is a small part of video game production
    • owing to supply and demand, game programming/ production is not a way to make much money
    • enthusiasm is required, but is just a start
intro to gaming atmosphere
Intro to Gaming--Atmosphere
  • Essentially a literacy class, should be fun
  • Provide real-world examples whenever possible
    • Negotiation
    • Experience of designing published games
  • We did not play or look at video games
    • Students already familiar with the games
    • Not enough time
    • Possible legal/philosophical objections to “playing games” in class
gaming community
Gaming Community
  • Game and Computer Club
    • Play video games on the “big projector”
    • Playtest non-video games
    • Not required participation
  • As with all clubs at non-residential colleges, requires a high critical mass of number of students—at present even CCCC isn’t large enough
  • First time around:
    • Flyers in local game shop
    • College Web site
    • Night section offered, no signups
    • 10 people in day version, almost all of them were already students (or graduates) of our department
  • This Fall
    • Department Web site (
    • Much recruiting in high school classes
    • Mailing and Information sessions three evenings in June
results of the class
Results of the Class
  • The programming-oriented students have continued to the next two classes
  • One of the boardgames produced was quite good, being played many times by the group, now being programmed for play on a computer
  • The computer game ideas tended to be quite derivative (sounded like lots of existing games), but that’s the nature of the entire video-game industry, little risk-taking
credential making games
Credential: “Making Games”
  • Bottom line for the credential: the students are making games, and pretty good ones at that
  • Fighter-plane (Space Invaders) type
  • Simple RPGs
  • Magical Arena boardgame now being programmed for computer play
    • I’ve thought seriously about taking this boardgame in hand to improve for commercial purposes
  • Download examples from
  • And they have something for their portfolio, not just a list of classes
video games
Video Games
  • Many types, for example:
  • “Big-time” video games (both console and PC)
    • Sold in Best Buy, Babbages, Staples, and the like
    • Very visible but only a part of the industry
    • Console and PC games are quite different
    • Con’t forget handhelds
  • Online games
    • Not the massively multiplayer games, the “other” online games
    • Some for a charge, some for advertising
  • Small games on other devices—cell phones, PDAs, etc.
big time video games
“Big-time” Video Games
  • Console games are very different from PC games
    • I used to say “computer games”; now I say “video games”
  • Console games are simpler, less “intellectual”
    • consoles are underpowered
    • consoles market to teens/ “Gen Y”
    • consoles lack keyboards
    • the buyers don’t want intellectual games
  • Attitudes toward PC games from console gamers
    • Would rather play on a console!
    • Console game sales of same game are much larger (say from 3-1 to 10-1 ratio)
non video games
Non-video Games
  • Family boardgames
  • Board wargames
  • Traditional miniatures battles
  • Role-playing games (D&D etc.)
  • Specialized card game (CCG, TCG)
  • Specialized miniatures games (HeroClix)
  • Euro-style boardgames
family boardgames
Family boardgames
  • Have a bad reputation among adults as most involve a lot of luck
  • Still sell much more than other kinds of boardgames
  • Examples:
    • Monopoly
    • Game of Life
    • Pachesi
board wargames
Board wargames
  • Conflict oriented strategic games, often historically based
  • 15,000 individual attendees each year at “Origins” convention (31st annual in Columbus OH, June 30-July 3, 2005) (includes non-video games of all kinds)
  • Tends to be the domain of middle-aged gamers these days
  • Examples:
    • Axis & Allies
    • Risk
    • Diplomacy
    • Britannia
traditional miniatures battles
Traditional miniatures battles
  • Tactical table-top battle games
  • Mostly land-based
  • One inch miniatures most popular, but there are other scales
  • Painting and collecting usually as important as playing
role playing games
Role-playing Games
  • Original commercial success was D&D, 1973-4
  • Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition hardcover book sales in the millions for the past five years
    • Many D&D related novels also published
  • Most major movie/book properties have an associated role-playing game
  • 50,000 person-days attendance at “GenCon”, Indianapolis, IN (next one August 05)
  • Currently downward trend in sales
specialized card games
Specialized card games
  • Usually collectible cards
  • Short game play, lots of tournaments, rules change over time
  • These are the biggest moneymakers in the USA after big-time video games
  • Examples:
    • Magic: The Gathering
    • Poke-mon, Yu-Gi-Oh
    • Games for most major book/movie properties such as Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, Star Wars
specialized miniatures
Specialized miniatures
  • Many are pre-painted, “collectibles” with a game attached
  • Examples:
    • Heroclix
    • Heroscape
  • WarHammer and related baroque Games Workshop games are a separate high-revenue hobby
    • have their own retail store
    • attractive to teenagers
euro style boardgames
Euro-style boardgames
  • Especially popular in Germany, where families play boardgames together every week
  • Can sell over a million copies, comparable to most PC games
  • “Family games on steroids”
    • Much more strategy, but still enough chance for the kids
    • Often somewhat abstract
    • A dislike of dice is very noticeable
  • Emphasis on appearance and tactile satisfaction
  • Examples
    • Settlers of Catan
    • Ticket to Ride
some observations
Some Observations
  • The current generation (“Y” or “millenial”—up to 25 or 26 years old) really is different from earlier generations
  • It is hard for many of them to understand that they need to work at finding a place in the industry—it won’t “just happen” even if they are skilled programmers
  • Many tend to rely on trial and error, which is how they’ve learned to play video games
  • They are disinclined to read, preferring to see or hear (via computer, usually)
  • Prensky’s “Digital Natives” idea