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Design Educations Under Criticism 48

Via GameSetWatch, a story at about the crass reasons higher learning institutions have for offering game design courses. From the article: "Video game design as a college major? It's yet another sign of the coming of the apocalypse. Schools of higher learning are simply cashing in on a fad that is destructive to society. Electronic Arts, the nation's largest game maker, has led the way in encouraging ivy-stained institutions to teach the design of such games as Grand Theft Auto, World of Warcraft, Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and Mortal Kombat. Last year, the company contributed millions of dollars to establish a three-year master of fine arts program in 'interactive entertainment' at USC." More on GamePolitics.
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Design Educations Under Criticism

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  • new medium (Score:4, Insightful)

    by uberjoe ( 726765 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:33PM (#14187794)
    Didn't they say the same thing about people getting film degrees in the last century?
  • The author's smirk (not to mention the terrible logic) makes me think this type of article is just done for attention.
    • Yeah, that logic is worse though. I mean, we're talking serious horsecrap.

      "The National Coalition on Television Violence (NCTV) has developed a ratings system to evaluate the violent content of video games, ranging from XUnfit, XV, and RV (highly violent) to PG and G."

      Uh, is this a joke article or something? In what nation is this coalition, who forms it and who do they represent. And then, why the hell I have never heard of these guys.

      Likewise the study of psychologists:

      "Our study reveals that young me
  • by nekoes ( 613370 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:37PM (#14187832) Journal
    Does it really make sense to say that teaching game design is wrong because most games are violent? Wouldn't it make more sense to base an argument fighting game design courses based upon games' infancy as a medium, and its potential lack of academic value?

    It just doesn't seem real logical to say that game design courses must be bad because games today promote violence. That'd be kind of like saying that we shouldn't teach film courses because movies and television are too violent.

    Wouldn't it be a good thing to offer game design courses, because that'd provide chances to teach potential designers responsibility and ethics?
    • The article is a repeat of Jack Thompson-esque rhetoric about how violent games make violent kids, etc. Ted Rueter, the author of the article, is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at DePauw University. I don't remember many friends or acquaintances in college that majored in PolySci, unless they were A) planning on going to grad school, or B) not planning on getting job (seriously!). I think we have a case of bona-fide "marketable skills envy" here! Remember--this is coming from a man who has no
    • If I'm paying thousands of dollars for education the school had better not try to shove THEIR idea of ethics down my throat. I would prefer to keep to my own tyvm.
  • Paragraph two, referring to the offering of video game design programs:
    Schools of higher learning are simply cashing in on a fad that is destructive to society.

    Paragraph four:
    Video games are big business--rivaling the movie industry. In 2004, video game sales totaled $9.9 billion. Electronic Arts alone employs 4,300 video game makers.

    Make up your mind! Passing fad, or major industry. You can't have both.
    He goes on to present some random evidence that seems to purport that some games aree viol
    • This entire article is a rant against videogames.

      And by the "violence as a theme" statement, he probably includes such games as Mario (stomping on Goombas is probably considered violence) and Metroid (blasting space aliens must be a no-no).

      This is another example of an article that just takes a headline, then runs it into the ground against the same old diatribe.
      • And by the "violence as a theme" statement, he probably includes such games as Mario (stomping on Goombas is probably considered violence) and Metroid (blasting space aliens must be a no-no).

        hey! that bastard mario smushed my goomba brother! i will have my revenge! oh no, here he comes! *boop* *poof*
  • Saying that gaming his highly destructive to society is highly subjective. I think that certainly the right kind of gaming is good for society. I can only hope that more video game designers can lead to more unique ideas and mind-stimulating gameplay.

    The amount of low quality games cashing in on franchises is at an all-time high. I blame us, the consumer, because we keep buying the garbage games.
  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:46PM (#14187908)
    Seriously, what good is a game design degree, anyway? The graduates from one semester would already be more designers than the whole industry needs. What they DO need is grunts. Coders, artists, sound guys, etc. The guys who don't think* but do. Most people who say "I want to make games" think they get to decide what games get made. You only need one or two of those on a team, compared to 50+ grunts on larger teams.

    Plus, a degree isn't worth much in the games industry anyway, your skill and especially past experience (often a required number of shipped titles for major companies!) are what's important. Many graduates are worse than the self-taught people. Most jobs with degrees require stuff selftaughts don't even know the name of (how many selftaught coders can do code verification?) so the degree makes sense but the processes involved in games is nothing your average selftaught doesn't know about (or, in case of complex coding, a computer science degree won't teach you).

    In the no-degree-required positions it's even recommended to have a degree that's not game related so you can take another high-paying job if you get burned out (or pissed off) by the games industry. If you only have a games degree the rest of your life would involve asking customers whether they'd like fries with that.

    *=Yes, I know all of these jobs require thinking. I mean they don't think up the game, just its implementation.
    • good points and I agree with pretty much all of them,

      however a number of ppl who obtain a degree in one area, don't necessairly stay true to that area. Think of the number of fine art ppl that graduate each year, and how many of them actually get a job doing art? Isn't it better that they get a degree in an art that has relevance rather than just some general arts program?
      • Ideally you don't want an art degree at all. Get a degree in electroengineering or something. A game art degree is useless (may impress the HR dude but the art director who does the final selection doesn't give a fuck, he's seen enough incompetent people with degrees, your portfolio and experience matters), a general art degree is useless when applying to a games company. Your degree should have a worth when you quit the games industry and get a less exhausting (and better paid) job after the almost inevita
    • Good point. Anyone who's played a computer game always thinks they have great ideas for new games. Notice how every thread on MMORPGs has hundreds of comments from self-appointed experts telling the designers what they should do with the game.

      Unfortuanately, the industry doesn't need 10,000,000 people with 'really cool' ideas who want to sit there drawing pictures of robots and alien castles all day masturbating about how great the game will be, what it needs is coders and artists who can actually code and
  • Why wouldnt universities get in on this? Video games are clearly a strong, and continually growing industry. Companies need trained workers for their fields, and universities provide training for people... so I think that its a very natural and sensible move by most schools to get in on it. Its time people woke up and figured out that video games are more than a fad. We aren't going anywhere.
    • The problem is that this lowers the reputation of the actual degree. Here's what I mean:

      1. The market is going to flood with available game designers.
      2. It'll become even more difficult to become a game designer.
      3. The graduates will try to find jobs in other software fields.

      And that's where they'll fail because they lack a theoretical education. From experience, the most experienced and insightful people I've met had a theoretical education (B.S. / M.S. / Ph. D) and figured things out by applying t
      • Chances are you generally don't want a mechanical engineer(my dad is a mechanical engineer[MS], you don't want him doing this, trust me) doing repairs on your car, you'd probably prefer a mechanic. And the inverse is true for say, designing an engine. Same principle applies to software.
        • Following the same analogy, you wouldn't want a mechanic designing your engine. So once there are enough mechanics (switching back to game designers--there are more than enough of them. How many good games were released last year, and how many of them bombed?), they'll have to find other sources of income.
      • Unfortuanately, game companies don't want theoretical people. They want people who can actually do the work. Anyone can come up with ideas for games, it's the actual implementation that's the hard bit.
  • How Cute.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kizzbizz ( 870017 )
    Aww, how cute. A political science professor is trying to make an argument about the psychology of children and how they respond violence in videogames. Any highschooler could tell from a cursory readthrough of this article that the professor is merely trying to push forward his elietist views. It is obvious he sees videogames as nothing more than a barbaric fufilment of primal passions, and some sort of scourge to higher society that needs to be eliminated "for the children". This reeks of the high-society
  • You said what now? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FLEB ( 312391 )
    the crass reasons higher learning institutions have for offering game design courses

    Wha'? There was nothing here even hinting at "reasons". The article was a (somewhat disjointed) opinion rant: "1.) Video games are violent. 2.) Video games are popular. 3.) Schools are starting video game design courses (and should not)" (although not specifically in that order).

    This article makes weak connections at best between violent video games and the detriment a game design program would have. The title of the article

  • What a crappy article. None of studies he mentions have links or refernces to the actual data. He makes unsupportable acusations. His picture makes you want to smack it. He mentions that the game industry rivals the film industry. But hasn't gaming outearned films for the past couple of years? "Rival" does not strike me as the best word choice. All in all, just a troll, and a poor one at that.

  • Does anybody else look at this guy and think about Dwight from the American version of the Office? I'm sure either one would be the same amount of fun to hold a conversation with.
  • Consider the Source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LehiNephi ( 695428 ) on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:49PM (#14187946) Journal
    The gist of the article is a repeat of Jack Thompson-esque rhetoric about how violent games make violent kids, etc.

    Ted Rueter, the author of the article, is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at DePauw University. I don't remember many friends or acquaintances in college that majored in PolySci, unless they were A) planning on going to grad school, or B) not planning on getting job (seriously!). I think we have a case of bona-fide "marketable skills envy" here! Remember--this is coming from a man who has no apparent expertise in the realm of child psychology. In other words, he doesn't know what he's talking about. He mentions studies that supposedly prove that violent games make kids more aggressive, but doesn't reference them. I did find it humorous that Rueter derides the fact that "Many games are based upon a scenario in which a woman is kidnapped or has to be rescued". Is he trying to say that chivalry and heroism are ruining our society?

  • by under_score ( 65824 ) <<mishkin> <at> <>> on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:55PM (#14188014) Homepage

    This is a complex problem. First off, funding for institutions of higher learning comes from a multitude of sources. Colleges need to attract funding and in order to do that they need to attract students. In order to attract students, they need to create programs that are attractive to students. In Canada, colleges and universities are publicly funded and their funding is largely based on the number of students. This competition for students is unfortunate because students who are 19 years old tend to be relatively short-sighted about what constitutes a good education.

    Secondly, I believe almost any course of study can become excellent education depending on the teachers/instructors/professors. My father [] is probably the best professor one could ever have: his background as a professional fine artist combined with experience in education and volunteer activities, plus his interest in philosophy and science makes him singularly capable of delivering an excellent course regardless of the subject matter. He is constantly creating new and better methods of instruction for his courses that he teaches at Keyano College []. Incidentally, he has been investigating the creation of a game design program at the college... because it is cutting edge in terms of the arts!

    I personally strongly feel that if I had focused on a purely technical or vocational path in my education I would not be nearly as far along in my career as I am. I studied sociology, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, French, Russian, marketing and accounting in addition to my core computer science and mathematics classes. The benefits of these classes have become clear 15 years later as I am doing management consulting [] for Agile methods []. If a program is going to be about game design, make sure that it includes a diversity of relevent subject matter such as gender studies, theatre, story-writing, linguistics, adult educational theory, etc. in addition to the technical stuff.

  • by slappyjack ( 196918 ) <> on Monday December 05, 2005 @04:58PM (#14188059) Homepage Journal
    ...and was FORCED to make violent ones. The market wouldn't have anything else.

    After creating a game engine very similar to Valves Source, I went on to make a few really beautiful and compelling titles: Getting ready for Work, Chores!, Making Dinner and Making Dinner 2: Grocery Store. All of these titles could hook into each other anad make for a wider game. Multiplayer online options were available - whats more exciting that doing your chores with a friend!?! Nothing, i tell you!

    For some reason none of them really sold at all. Focus groups kept trying to take the coffee pot with them on the way to work the smash their boss with it. In another test, the kids kept trying to order pizza and steal the guy's car. In no tests did the subjects try to actually try to meat their actual goals of living a mundane everyday life.

    I blame the universities.
  • NCTV surveyed 176 Nintendo video games. They gave the XUnfit rating to 11 percent of games. Forty-three percent received an XV and 15 percent earned an RV.

    Wait... 69% of Nintendo's games are highly violent, to a degree unfit for kids? By what standards? Do those people consider the Road Runner cartoon a bloodbath or what? Mario jumping on goombas is hardly "extreme violence".

    A different survey found that 40 of the 47 top-rated Nintendo video games had violence as a theme.

    Now it's a theme? Um, hellooooo? Wh
  • Once teachers start deconstructing the underlying motifs to first-person shooters, will kids flee the stultifying horror of academic respectibility?

    "Okay, students, who can tell me the five elements of situational puzzle resolution?

  • It could be different if USC wasn't just a degree factory. I am in one of the Master's programs akin to the Interactive entertainment one (albeit through the engineering school). The problem with it, and with all the USC MS degrees is it seems that they basically churn out degrees for money.

    USC is not cheap. It is currently $981/credit. Assuming that a MS consists of 16-20 credits per year, this new Game Design curriculum is going to set back each candidate by on average 3x18=$52k. Thats in USD. Granted the
  • Let's do away with every game genre that could be influenced by these programs, starting with games aimed at poor, innocent children.

    And who's the most guilty? V-Tech [] and Leap Frog []! Those companies need to have criminal charges filed against them, because they're marketing video games designed to brainwash little children!

  • How much has George Lucas given to the USC Film School? Hmmm? Or newspapers to language schools? Submitter needs to pull their head from their rectum and realize that industry will support itself by trying to get possible future employees of the highest caliber, even if it means actually teching them something in the process of their education.
  • Oh of course these degree programs are complete bull... why should we think that a degree that involves classes like calculus, artificial intelligence, C++ programming, 3d asset production, creative writing and behavioral science would involve any type of learning process and teach people skills that would make them an asset to the computer business world.

    Seriously though, putting down degrees that are based on video games is wrong and usually completely biased. Most colleges that are offering "game design"
  • ... and then i remembered that this was written by a political 'scientist'. then i went back to not caring.

    odds of this guy understanding enough to even begin to appreciate the process involved in creating a game: about 40 billion to 1 against.

    odds of this guy understanding his ignorance: about 40 billion to 1 against

    odds of this guy understanding that there is more to the game market than gta, halo, etc.: again, about 40 billion to 1 against

    given this, what are the odds he should be taken seriously?
  • I can distill this article into a few simple premises (please note this is the article from Degrees in Video Game Design "Kidnap American Education" [] not the Games and Politics respones):

    1. Video games are evil.

    2. Evil video game companies (which is reduntant as creating video games is the equivalent of selling poisoned milk to school children according to the article) are spending money to encourage colleges to create courses teaching people how to add poison to milk for schoolchildren.

    3. All video

  • No doubt there is an issue here. Still, from TFA:

    by Ted Rueter, Assistant Professor of Political Science at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana

    Now clearly, here's a fella with his finger firmly on the pulse of the gaming medium, and, for that matter, fully qualified to discuss its relevance in terms of higher ed.

    If I teach programming, can I spout off about the high cost of drug prices and get a front-page href at

    Can we get the opinions of some staff members at the Culinary Ins
  • Oh Noes! Traditional 'Education' is under attack!

    God forbid we let business trends and the interests of young people influence the cirricula on college campuses.

    Also, and perhaps this is the elitist in me, but it is my experience that a trained baboon can obtain a poly sci degree.
  • How is this any different from, for example, an oil company sponsoring university programs in petrochemical technology?

    Well, I suppose that oil companies HAVE been sponsoring petrochem programs for many, many years longer. And, yes, I suppose that it is a generally established fact that consumption of petrochemicals has a detrimental effect on the environment, as opposed to half-baked "studies" about their effects.

    Exxon Mobil had over $100 billion in revenues in this quarter alone! And they donate abo

  • wellll, looking at the picture i think he's just envious that we gamers get laid more than him.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!