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What does the future hold for game teaching?

What does the future hold for game teaching?

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What does the future hold for game teaching?

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  1. What does the future hold for game teaching? Sud Sudirman Liverpool John Moores University

  2. Presentation Overview • Game Technology as an Academic Discipline • Factors that affects the state of game teaching in future • About the future • Worries and Misconceptions from the past • Trends and Pitfalls • What has been done so far.

  3. Game Technology as an Academic Discipline • Although computer and video games have been around for more than 25 years, it is only recently that academia has regarded Computer Game Technology as an academic discipline. • Computer games were traditionally a product of individuals or a small group of people working together, without many a well-defined paradigm or rules. • But with the increasing sophistication and challenges in producing modern commercial games, many developers have to rethink of their strategy • Multi-disciplinary rules are applied to increase effectiveness and reduce cost and development time. • Companies need to recruit people with the right knowledge, the right attitude and discipline about game development

  4. Game Technology as an Academic Discipline • Many were sceptical initially due to the ‘kiddie’ nature of computer games. • Some also thought that game technology was too-specific a course of Computing or Software Engineering. • Specific undergraduate degree courses are nothing new: • Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering • Control Systems Engineering • Automotive Engineering • Robotics and Cybernetics • Microbiology • The birth and life of every academic discipline is related to its demand in the real world • But it also depends on a number of other factors

  5. Factors that affects the state of game teaching • Quality of game education • The state of the industry and the demand for the graduates. • The perceptions of the industry about the academic discipline • Contribution from the industry to academia • Contributions from academia to the industry

  6. The quality of game education • Traditionally, a course is developed in a university via the strength in research. • Strong research in the subject, together with the right expertise, will produce better teaching quality. • This process is rather less observed when it comes to developing game courses. • One main reason is that academia was sceptical about computer game education before it took off. • This was remedied by active collaboration between academia and the industry to come up with a good curriculum. • And equally importantly, many academia has now established game education as a proper academic discipline backed by strong research in the subject.

  7. Factors that affects the state of game teaching • Quality of game education • The state of the industry and the demand for the graduates. • The perceptions of the industry about the academic discipline • Contribution from the industry to academia • Contributions from academia to the industry

  8. The current state of game industry • Computer Game consumers today have a lot to be happy about, because computer and console games are better than ever. • The platforms are more powerful, environments are more detailed, and characters are more lifelike. • So, support from consumers is high. • The industry also enjoys a significant revenue from non-gaming sectors such as advertising companies, training companies, movie publishers and TV broadcasters to use their game or engine in their products (e.g., Time Commanders, Machinima, Full Spectrum Warrior.)

  9. The current state of game industry • Huge market – bigger than movie receipts: • US/Canada £5.6bn • Western Europe £4.2bn • Japan £2.8bn • 30% of British households currently have video games consoles • Current generation consoles (PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Gamecube) continue to stimulate the games market • Next generation consoles (Playstation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Revolution) will give a boost in growth as what the current generation did 4-5 years ago. • Online gaming is expected to mature and become pervasive because consoles are beginning to get online • Wireless gaming is vital to the future of telecoms companies • Handheld gaming is booming – well over 100 million Nintendo Gameboys sold, about 25 million Gameboy Advances, and the same success is expected for Sony PSP.

  10. The future of game industry • IDG Datamonitor predicted by 2008 the worldwide software gaming market will reach £20.4 billion. • So, the future seems bright and orange. Or is it? • Not many suspected the great crash in 1984. Could the majority of people be wrong again this time?

  11. The Great Crash • The year is 1984 • With the combined effect of the introduction of Home Computers and increased development efforts of many people. • Making a computer games became a relatively easier business. • Hence, the flood of cheap and low quality games • Added with the fact that everybody, even breakfast cereal manufacturers, used computer game as cheap-to-make premium advertising tool

  12. What is the significance of this history now? • Some people draw the similarity between the increase in people’s ability to create computer game then, to the (expected) boom in numbers of computer game graduates. • Some people also draw the similarity between the relationship between the game industry and the other non-gaming industry in particular, the advertising companies. • And they quote:

  13. Those who can not remember the past are condemn to repeat it. George Santayana

  14. So have we learnt anything from this history? Or an equally important question Are we supposed to learn anything from this history?

  15. Aside • There was an article on Scots Newse in Winter 99 by William Urban. • It says Santayana’s proverb is probably true but one can also learn the wrong lessons • For example, from the first World War, we learnt not to be too hasty in judging our enemies’ motives. From World War II we learnt to stand up against aggressors and from Vietnam war we learnt not to get involved. • So, back to the second question again: • Are we supposed to learn anything from the history of The Great Crash of 1984?

  16. Learning from History • The answer is of course yes. • Nintendo, with others, did learn from the mistake and acted upon it and they managed to revive the industry within a relatively short period of time. • But whether the same attitude can still be used today to prevent another crash, is a different matter.

  17. Differences • Even with high proliferation of internet and rapid increase of free online or downloadable games, they hardly put a dent on the mainstream game market. • Computer games graduates, while in no doubt, will somehow increase the quality and sophistication of these ‘free’ games, the games would be no match with most commercial games due to high production values and big budget. • Regarding the relationship between the game industry and the advertising companies, there is also a significance different in attitude of the gaming industry towards the marketing companies between then and now.

  18. Differences • As opposed to create games that promotes a product, game companies use advertisement as a natural feature in their game. • Game companies no longer create games specifically to promote a product, but rather they use in-game advertisement techniques. • In fact, some even go as far as to use dynamic advertisement system that changes the advert content depending on the time and date the game is being played, e.g., Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory • Although the case may not be so different with movie tie-ins game 20 years ago and now.

  19. In any case, it would be unlikely for the game industry to crash, if not at all, because of the same reasons

  20. What about other reasons? • Although in overall, the gaming market is increasing in size, the same can not be said about PC gaming market. • The share of PC gaming market has reduced compared to a decade ago. • One of the reasons is the significantly heavier reliance in PC games on new technology to attract consumers than in console games.

  21. Reliance in Technology • Although no one is denying that reliance in technology is the main factor that keep people interested in games, heavy reliance puts extra burden on both developers and consumers. • A copy of 30 year old Beatles music CD for £12.99 compared to a copy of 9 year old Transport Tycoon game for £1. • Console gaming traditionally relies more on techniques rather than technology, but fierce competition might shift this the other way: • Shorter console life span • More complex CPU/GPU architectures – increases development time and cost

  22. Worries and Pitfalls • There is a possible pitfall in all of this. • Heavy reliance in technology particularly affects small to medium development house the most • Large overheads required to overcome the learning curve, and by the time they can break even, another new and more complex piece of hardware comes • This could drive them out of business, creating a pool of unemployed developer and at the same time slowing down recruitment of fresh graduates • Large companies also feel the burden of increasing development cost and time, driving the price up, and possibly to the point where consumers have enough. • However, this could open up a larger opportunity of middleware companies.

  23. Effects on game teaching • Since, game technology moves at a faster rate than most subjects, there is an extra pressure on universities to keep their courses up-to-date. • And rather worryingly is that the industry might expect the level of technical knowledge and skill from the graduates to increase every year due to the same reason. • Considering that universities accept new students at a more-or-less the same level of academic background every year, there is an inevitable gap between what is expected and what can be produced realistically.

  24. Factors that affects the state of game teaching • Quality of game education • The state of the industry and the demand for the graduates. • The perceptions of the industry about the academic discipline • Contribution from the industry to academia • Contributions from academia to the industry

  25. The perception • The academic background of many, if not all, of current practitioners in the game industry are not from game technology related degrees • It would be natural for them to be sceptical about the new academic discipline. • The challenges now lie in proving that the industry would really benefit from the specialisation of graduates.

  26. The dilemma • As with other things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages in having a specialised degree. • Graduates have more chance in working in the sector that they would like but at the expense of lower employability in other sector • As a service provider to students, academic institutions must thread carefully between making the course more specialised or diverse • In John Moores University, we design our BSc course in such a way that 3rd Level students can tailor their skill and knowledge set by being able to choose modules from a wide range of subjects, from very game technology specific modules to multimedia and to IT. • This way we believe we can achieve a soft compromise from having a highly specialized subject to broadening the employability of our graduates

  27. The perception • These first few years are crucial in terms of fostering a good perception of the industry to the academic output. • So far, the situation is promising. Many computer games graduates are finding employment. • And in John Moores University, especially at Masters degree level, our graduates are quite well perceived by major development houses such as EA and SCEE.

  28. Factors that affects the state of game teaching • Quality of game education • The state of the industry and the demand for the graduates. • The perceptions of the industry about the academic discipline • Contribution from the industry to academia • Contributions from academia to the industry

  29. What academia wants • Apart from the more obvious things such as better perception and graduate intake, there are a number of others: • Input in developing and adapting course curriculum and syllabus • This has been pioneered by IGDA Education Committee • Better support in providing practical experience ranging from providing real life case studies to collaborative final year projects to work placements. • Although some difficulties are acknowledged due to high level of secrecy and confidentiality in some of materials required.

  30. What academia can give • From an academic perspective, one of the things that we could do is to further the state-of-the-art technology by means of research • Much academic research now is used in by the game industry mostly in the area of computer vision and AI. • A two-way relationship in this area would really benefit the state of gaming industry • Another thing we can do is to try to bring together the world of academia (students and academics) and the industry by means of conferences or workshops. • At JMU we annually arrange a conference for practitioners and our students to meet in both formal and informal manners.

  31. Summary • There are plenty of things to be excited about for those who work or want to work in computer game industry. • The crash of 1984 does not seem to repeatable at least for a foreseeable future and for the same reasons • Game Technology courses have provided much needed quality human resources to the industry and have been received well by the industry • But maintaining this requires active participation from both the academia and industry. • I have highlighted some aspects to be excited about, some aspects that could be problematic and some possible action points to consider to make game teaching a success. • So I believe, the future holds a very promising prospect for game teaching.