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Games Entertainment

University offers degree in game programming. 90

atomly writes "It seems a British university is offering a degree in game programming with courses like the history of games, and game appreciation. " A class where you compare Sonic and Mario? God yes. Makes me wish I thought for more than 3/10ths of a second before rejecting the idea of grad school ;)
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University offers degree in game programming.

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Full Sail [fullsail.com]also offers a degree program in game design. Granted, it is a trade school.

    Others wrote to say that a broad, liberal education is preferable, and I agree completely. I talked to these folks (Full Sail) at Siggraph last year and they flooded me with phone calls over the following months, trying to get me to sign up for some courses. It's sad to see that many academic institutions are pandering to some very short-sighted educational goals, enticing bright eyed hopefuls to part with their money. Instead, they should focus on turning out brilliant, adaptable alumni with a broad knowledge base and unbridled creativity. A school is ultimately judged by the quality of it's graduates.

  • This is obviously a marketing ploy by universities to attract "game programmer" wannabes.

    Does anyone have the syllabus? I can pretty much guess it:

    - Linear Algebra
    - Computer Graphics
    - Perhaps a section on optomization techniques, but this reduces down to more algebra and numerical methods.
    - Software Engineering techniques (fairly well established for the game industry...not much room for innovation here since all game apps are graphic-engine centric...er...at least most are).
    - data structures
    - AI

    Note how all are pretty much standard courses in every university.

    Of course, in such a degree course there *is* one thing that will be of great assistance to an aspiring "game programmer": the course projects (if there are any). 99% of the learning will most likely be throguh the project...everything else is standard knowledge - every CS grad should have the necessary prerequsite knowledge to make a game.

    A degree project will provide a nice single comming-together point to apply all knowledge from the diverse fields I listed above for the sole purpose of writing a game. How to use this knowledge to effectivley write games is not necessarily intuitive. Hopefully the degree is under the supervision of experienced game programmers.

    I hope this isn't a standard CS degree with a couple of mandatory "game programming" courses.
    There was all this hype about "Software Engineering" degrees a while back (almost every university offers them), however much to the chagrin of new students, these degrees are nothing more than the standard CS degree plus a few courses on software engineering (typically a course on requirements, another course on design, and finally a course on testing).

    Aside from the history of gaming (you can find that on many websites), I wonder if they'll cover how impossible it is to be employed as a game programmer...now if the course was also a co-op one...then you have something VERY good!

    But I digress, is this the stuff we want in universities? It's very...well...unworthy.
    Sure, it'll make you marketable, but that's what technical colleges are for. Well...I suppose even universities have to stay competitive...

  • Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science is arguably the best computer science school in the country. No, I don't go there - I'm in their Engineering school attempting a double major :)

    SCS does have classes that concentrate on game programming. However, if you really want to concentrate on game programming, you have to work your butt off to do it - User Interface, Art, Design, and history.

    Though, SCS doesn't make it a "degree." The degree is *still* Computer Science. And even if you spend two semesters on game programming, you will come out no less a Computer Scientist from this school than if you specialized in Operating Systems or Graphics Software.

    IMO, this announcement is just a way to get some publicity. Any respectable Computer Science school in the country most likely has at least two courses on games and game programming: one for the programming, another as a seminar course to discuss the history, user interface, etc.

    There's no shame in majoring in Computer Science with a concentration in Game Programming, as long as you get the general education to back it up.
  • Posted by cnr1089:

    Hey, this is all a little crazy to me. I am going for a dual Major in Computer Science and Computer System's engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. When I first go there, I was like, yah, I am going to learn so much. Well, I will tell you, you learn a lot as a undergrad, but there just isn't enough time. You have to learn to walk, before you can learn to run.

    I was pissed when we got into some CS classes, and we were programming little CONSOLE programs. I was like, "why don't we learn Xwindows, or Win32 stuff". Well, I have learned that it is best to nail down the concepts first. If they are offering a degree in Game Programming, these people (unless it is a grad degree, I did't see that specification) aren't going to have a solid foundation in the underlying. I have talked to MANY people who don't truely even understand the concepts of Pointers, because they just usually call a bunch of APIs (win32, etc) and never really learn the concepts.
  • Posted by 2B||!2B:

    It's not a degree specifically in game programming that needs to happen. What needs to happen is we need more hands-on experience in a variety of real-life applications while we're in college. Problem: right now too much of the degree is spent on "lib ed" and math and physics, etc., because of the insufficient education we receive before college in the US (unlike Japan, Russia, and many other places where a high school grad probably knows more about math and science than an American knows after finishing a BS degree). There's no time left for what really counts: real projects. I'm finishing the last class of my computer science degree, and wish that I had been given classes teaching COM, CORBA, 3d gaming, and many other similar commercial skills as part of the degree. Everybody finishes with many general skills, but lacking in any specifics unless they have a job on the side. If the first place they end up at is a Win32 shop, they'll eventually learn that, but will still be unfamiliar with many other important skills. If they end up in gaming, they'll be clueless on things like CORBA, so they'll also be stuck. We really need a broader experience in what's out there before we graduate. Even grad school doesn't really provide that.
  • Posted by stodge:

    Oh and of course its a wonderful university, in a wonderful town. NOT! Well not the town anyway. How do I know? I did my degree there. :P I just hope the people on my degree there are having a successful life. Cheers folks!

  • I just browsed the student projects. It looks like they have to produce storyboards, screen mockups, state machines, flow charts, game stories, etc.

    How is that different than any programmer producing screen mockups and UML diagrams? Or, writers producing plot outlines and draft chapters.

    Or, is the intent to provide extremely focussed training (like community college) that also yields a portfolio when finished (like a fine arts student)?
  • I would argue that all programs should have those qualities.

    See Jon Bentley's "Programming Pearls" for details.

    Sure, you can have an application that is a mere "tool" but if everything comes together, you have an elegant "pearl", whether it is a game or an FTP client or backup software or whatever.
  • by Sabalon ( 1684 )
    When I first read the heading I though "COOL". Then I thought more about it.

    Why bother? It will probably appeal to the people on the comp.games groups and the *.3d.* groups who buy a book on programming/modelling and expect to instantly know how to do it all. It isn't that simple. It takes skill and talent (and luck).

    I think it'd be a much better course if it had no computer component to it, other than a final project or something like that. If you are in the course, you had best already know how to make a rendering engine for a game and through textures up there. The courses should concentrate on playability issues, supporting a game, how to reach a target audience, design issues, etc...

    The final project should be no more than a running game (perhaps something to prove academic honesty as well). The grade should be based on the merits of the game, not how good the code was behind it.

    Also, anyone who turns in a first-person 3D shooter with nothing else to it (quake, heretic, doom, etc...) gets an instant F.

  • I heard Ralph Nader say that in a talk about engineering ethics. He also warned of the dangers of specialization in limiting your choices and leading to unquestioning acceptance of the status quo.

    Neither I nor Nader really disagree with you. It is far better to have a general background including non-technical knowledge for scientists and engineers and technical knowledge for artists and humanists.

    But, before you dismiss specialization altogether, condider this... can you design a CPU? The OS to run on it? The fabrication process and machinery? Mine and refine the minerals needed? Produce the chemicals? Create the marketing strategy?... Now for the monitor...
  • One of the programmers on Civilization: Call to Power (Windows version, not Linux) had a degree from DigiPen. He was on the project essentially from beginning to end and was one of our better programmers. I don't know how much of that was due to DigiPen and how much was due to natural talent or other experience (he had worked on console titles before coming to CTP), but it certainly worked out fine for him. I don't know what percentage of DigiPen graduates are actually working in the industry, but if this person was a typical example, then it should be pretty high.
  • As I recall DigiPen [digipen.com] is in canada. It looked to be a really cool school and I damn near ended up there after I finished my EE, but alas it was in canada ... :-)

  • How did you get moderated up?

    By your thinking why go to college at all, there are a lot mor jobs at McDonalds?

    The number of availabel jobs is not the only reason to chose a vocation. When I was 12 and first starting playing with computers, I didn't think boy there will be a lot of jobs in this when I grow up.

    I can think of at least three reasons why people would want this degree:

    1. Games are fun, and Game programming would be fun.

    2. Chance of recognition, like John Romero, kinda the some reason people code open source (according to The Cathedral and Bazaar)

    3. Chance to make a lot more money then regular programmers.

    I have no knowledge how true these are, but people getting this degree would be more concerned with these then the number of (possible boring) programming job are availble

    Note that I'm just a regular programmer, so these are all just my interpretation of the situation.
  • I think the field is complicated enough to warrant one ... has anyone ever heard of such a thing? It would be great to get rid of all those company specific crap certifications out there (which only feed monopolies).
  • Check out this course in Computer Games Technology & Virtual Environments BSc (Hons) [tay.ac.uk] at the University of Abertay, Dundee [tay.ac.uk].

    Yet again, Scotland does it first :)

  • ACTUALLY, the term "warez" originated from "wares", an appended version of "software". Originally, it applied to any type of software, but eventually grew to exclude everything except pirated software. So THERE. :-)
  • Interestingly, Teeside "University" was indeed
    probably a technical college or polytechnic.
    A few years ago the powers that be, here in the
    UK, decided that it would be a good idea not to
    distinguish between genuine Universities and
    colleges and just make everything University.

  • Let's hope they cover Linux, Mac, Be, etc. as viable game development and deployment platforms instead of just TV consoles and Win9x. Otherwise they could be churning out degrees not worth the paper they're written on ;-) Please, console games kick ass. Granted, there are some games that PCs are better at, but my Sony Playstation has a huge game selection, is very very stable, and I can get games for $20 or less that I like to play.

    Compare this with a PC system, were to play the latest and greatest games you have to have so many megabytes of memory, that brand spankin' new 3D video card, a CPU that runs at a minimum of so many MHz, etc. To keep a PC current is very expensive, while I haven't "upgraded" my Playstation since I bought it!

  • Sure, kids can be dumb...
    Sure, general programming would be better...

    But aren't you gonna basically have to learn all that general programming anyways. Maybe this is a way to get immature kids to decide to go to college instead of chasing the short-run fortune of web designer. If they decide they don't wanna be a "game" programmer when they grow up, at least they will still have programming skills.
  • Wall Street Journal wrote on Digipen last year.
    Said it was highly selective on math and science
    requiremnets, only admitting 1 in 6 applicants.
    (MIT admits 1 in 8.)
  • U. Penn and U. Colorado @ Boulder both have Masters programs in T-Com.
  • I remember an old Far Side comic where these two parents were watching their son play Nintendo and they were daydreaming that he'd get a job one day "Saving the Princess" and "Defeating Boswer" for $50K to $90K a year. It was just a throwaway joke, but now that doesn't seem so far fetched now.
  • better money too...
  • What does academics have a history of producing? Acadamia produce theories... in this case, theories about why games are good, why they're bad, and, worst of all, what they should be.

    I'm sure the program will start out cool... and maybe this specific program won't suffer from this problem, but I'd hate to get a degree in gaming. Gaming isn't EVER going to be a field that acadamia will be strong in. Gaming has enough problems with the "me-too" games... can you image what it would be like if 3-D shooters were the Only Fun Game according to some panel of PhD's?

    This isn't a panic post, because this won't happen. Either the program will avoid it (likely in the short term, unlikely in the long term), or it will die. If the program turns out people with only a certain set of skills, or attitudes, or gaming styles, well, certain houses might employ them, but the cutting edge places NEVER will. This is not a field where the academics will innovate, so all this place can possibly do is produce people who really, really know how to do what's already been done.

  • Oh Pleeeassee!
    I've gotta defend Teesside and M'bro having lived here for most of my life I know a reasonable amount about it and I think it's great. *Everyting* you need/want is here and the prices are reasonable as opposed to down South where you need a mortgage for a beer!
  • I've just (last week) finished my CS degree at Teesside and I correctly guessed that the course was to take place there before I read the BBC article.
    The Uni has a very strong grounding in general computing but especially in software engineering and graphical applications. They ran one of the first 'visualisation' courses in the country and have their own VR labs - damn those admins never did let me run Quake in there :(.
    As always, there will be teething trouble for the first group of students to go through but they will get things sorted.
    As for a Uni environment being too academic, all of Teesside's full-time computing degrees have a mandatory year's work-placement as part of the course. They also have excellent links with the computing industry throughout the company - they have already had people working on major games (on placement from the visualisation courses).
    So give them a break and see what happens!
  • This reminds me of the day I realized something - most of the so called programmers I run into got their jobs because "they had a computer at home".
    Don't we have enough of the fly-by-night-flunky-schools and dried-up-washed-up-overweight-actress-schools turning out students looking for that "high paid profession of computer programming" without trying to bring yet more idiots who use variable names like a, b, c, d$, f into the industry?

    I think I am going to go throw up now.
  • Nope. Nothing to do with warez.

  • I think the University of Quebec is working on a specific degree program called Game Programming in French. Apparently they were taken back at the fact that the old Sierra Quest games had an English script.
  • and you're saying that Voc-tech schools will give you creativity?

    I'm sorry but the job market is such where you need some form of formal education to actually be part of a team that develops a successful product. If you want to go codeing point and click games as a freelance programmer, thats your choice. However you are rolling a much higher sided dice.
  • by Orion2o6 ( 19212 ) on Friday June 25, 1999 @10:32AM (#1833035)
    You would think, getting the 100 lives in Super Mario Brothers in Level 3 after 50 million attempts would surely be equivalent to the dissertation a Game Programming DOCTOR would face. Are we sure that this isn't just a major offered at Ziff-Davis University (www.zdu.com). Heh....
  • No grades or tests, eh? Sounds like disneyland. But for precisely that reason a mickey mouse degree diploma from there probably won't buy you much out in the real world.
  • My best friend just graduated from DigiPen in Vancouver a few months ago. His was the last class from the Vancouver campus, and now the school has moved to Seattle. They're taking more students (it was only 60, now it's way more) and it's a 4 year school instead of the 2 year school it used to be. It is very hard to get into, and the classes take up just about all of your time. Classes are 6 days a week (I believe) and it's pretty typical to be doing work for 12 hours every day of the week (that is if you want to do well at all). From what my friend says, the school taught him a lot, but some of the teachers were downright pathetic, and the head of the whole thing is a real dick, only in it for the money, not the education. Regardless, he got a pretty swank job at Black Ops in Santa Monica, so I suppose he did learn something. ;)
  • Personally, I'm one of those old school geeks that still believes in "programming" (and by that I basically mean 'having hacker nature') as an art, and something that is strongly linked to cognitive style. You've either got "it" or you don't. If you've got it, then you will find your path (it'll just take longer if you insist on doing it yourself). If you don't got it, no amount of schooling is gonna give it to you. Sure, you can get a degree, and get a job, but you'll always be among the ranks of the masses, not the "elite" (and I use that term strictly in a good, uber-hacker sort of way).

    I know superhackers that got degrees of varying levels, and those that never went to college. Similarly I know jackasses that got degrees of varying levels, and those that never went to college. Their quality as programmers varies over the spectrum. There is no pattern. It's a religious war to argue the merits of educational approaches.

    I work with "programmers" who I have to explain things to many times a day, for many days, and weeks later they still tell me "I'm changing random things and hoping it works", in other words, "I still don't fully understand what you told me." Then recently there was a new guy who had spent about 2 days getting up to speed on our app server software, and he asked me a questin. I explained it. He looked confused. I said "Go home and sleep on it." The next morning he met me at my cube, a "Eureka!" gleem in his eye, and said "I get it!" Haven't heard a question from him since.

    He got it. The other guy still doesn't get it.

  • [I think Lazarus Long said that.]

    This looks to be the ultimate catering to the "I only want to learn what I think I need when I'm a kid" mentality, which is about as useful as "I don't like carrots therefore they're not good for me." We tend to forget that many kids are stupid, and can't make decisions for themselves. Many make it most of the way through college before deciding "Hey, I don't want to do this." Matter of fact, lots of them get all the way through and then out into the world before realizing they made the wrong choice. Giving them the candy of "Want a degree in game programming?" is a stupid, stupid idea. I used to hang out on rec.games.programmer, and every time a new language came into vogue, two questions would become frequently asked: "I'm writing a 3D shooter in language xxx, who wants to help!" and "I'm in school and I want to be a programmer. Does anybody know schools where I can get a degree in language xxx?" You can lead a kid to college, but you can't make him learn.

    My undergrad thesis was on computers in education, my first two jobs were in writing software for medical devices, and my last 3 have been eCommerce web sites. Why in the world would I have wanted to deliberately limit my choices by only learning about one of those things?

    Are our brains getting smaller?

    I agree completely that there is too much information to be expert at everything. I don't claim to be. But I think that I could learn to be pretty darned good at just about anything you hand me. That's what education is supposed to be about, as far as I'm concerned -- not specific knowledge, but rather training your brain to learn how to learn. I have more confidence that I'd be able to pick up game programming, then in one of these newly trained game kiddies being able to write some embedded medical software.


  • I think you missed the point.

    Why even limit yourself to computer programming, or even computers? Here's what I mean:

    Why not learn a bit about the human brain in a psych class to augment any AI knowledge?

    Why not take a music history class? They're interesting, and you could learn how to code MIDI or write software that uses a sound card.

    Take a world history class. Not directly applicable to computer programming, but useful nonetheless if for nothing more than ideas for a computer game.

    Math is also very important to computer scientists...everything from discrete math to differential equations come up everywhere. Learn to love recurrences.

    As far as I'm concerned, Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid should be required reading for any CS students...it's just now 20 years old, but much of the material is still applicable. It talks on a wide variety of subjects, including art, math, music, computer science, neurophysiology, Zen buddhism, genetics. I can't say enough good things about the book.

    Reading GEB will really give you an idea of what a varied education can do for you. Now I don't mind so much that MIT makes its students take 8 humanities classes. Of course, not every college has such high-quality classes. Or perhaps I've just been very lucky and chosen only the interesting ones.

  • Obviously it takes a person who enjoys games to make good games. But take a look at the most common games out there now: Quake III, Half-Life, Unreal, Mario64, Zelda64, Shenmue (upcoming) Dino Crisis (upcoming), etc. These games are not created on creativity alone. These are all innovative games, and incredibly complex from a programmer's standpoint. However, there are many parts which are fundamental, and needn't be reinvented from the ground up, like 3d engines, movement algorithms, etc. Such things are learned in class, and are covered comprehensively.

    Furthermore, to make it in the gaming industry, you have to be fully aware of new technologies, and be able to critically evaluate the advantages of these new technologies with your older, more stable ones. A good program will also teach you how to effectively put your ideas on paper, how to break down your game into manageable, programmable chunks.

    Basically, it comes down to this: there are casual, self-taught programmers that I know who are very intelligent, and very creative. However, I think they would have a difficult time trying to get a job in the industry now because their technology knowledge is fragmented. They have always followed what was interesting to them, and so there are a vast amount of topics which they have no knowledge in. Programs like this English one and Digipen prepare you for what game developers are demanding these days. This industry has changed a lot since the days of Atari and one-man programming teams.
  • I agree completely with your sentiment on specialization vs. "learning how to learn".

    However, the politicians in my corner of the world (Ontario, Canada) don't necessarily agree. Far from it, the Mike Harris Conservative government in Ontario is promoting specialization. The theory is that greater specialization in university will lead to more direct job prospects. Our gov't is going so far as to increase funding to programs that generate graduates in high-demand job areas, at the expense of those programs that don't necessarily, such as Fine Arts, Music, etc. Not only that, but there are plans in the works to have entire universities specialize in offering certain programs, and stop offering programs that they are not "the leader" in.

    If you are familar with universities in this area, a great example might be that the University of Waterloo would then only offer specialized programs in Computer Science and Engineering, and, say, the University of Guelph would only offer programs in Biological Sciences and Agriculture.

    Perhaps programs such as this "Game Programming" degree in Britain are just a symptom of this entire (dangerous) mentality that specialization is desired to increase job prospects.

    However, anybody who has worked in the real world for a few years, or is in a co-operative education program at their university, like me, will know that most employers value:

    - well developed problem solving skills that can be applied to ANY type of situation
    - excellent communication skills (both oral and written)
    (and most of all)
    - adaptability

    An unfortunate problem is that most university applicants don't realize this. Many prospective students are asking about employment stats for graduates and what companies hire out of the co-op program -- as if they know exactly what they want to do at graduation, 5 years in the future. Clearly some might, but the point is, a lot of North American politicians are hyping up the applicability of university programs to employment after graduation. That just feeds the "job tunnel vision" in new students.

    Students will be thinking about a job after graduation -- but perhaps more should be thinking about their career, and what would happen to it if the job prospects in their high-demand field dried up, and what would happen if their highly-specialized knowledge couldn't get them hired anywhere else.

    Highly specialized degrees are dangerous if they are not built upon a solid, broad base of knowledge in their field -- if only more people realized this before they started.

    I could go on and provide my opinion of "business colleges" that hype up vendor-specific IT training like the MCSE program, but, I digress. :-)
  • No, I certainly cannot dismiss specialization altogether!

    I agree with your point -- I can't design a CPU, the OS to run it, or other items you mentioned. If nobody could, it would definitely pose a problem.

    I think the natural answer is: "Nature loves balance." (no pun intended). I'm not sure who said it, but it almost always brings the best results.

    Just as extreme generality would keep us from doing anything useful, extreme specialization has it's own inherent problems.

    As I mentioned in my earlier post, the best combination is probably a good general base (some English courses, definitely!, exposure to other areas of the general field you study in, then, build upon that with a specialization).
  • Well by that logic why bother with Electrical, Mechanical, Aerospace, etc.. Engineering, it is all engineering and there are more engineering jobs in general. I mean I would assume general programming is the basis of this degree if it is not then it is worthless.
  • My brother went to their summer work camp. I think
    it is to see if you might want to go to the college.
    It was two weeks long. I think the first week they
    learn about programming and then the second week
    they create their own game as a group.

    As for its connection to Nintendo, it is across
    the street from it. I believe Nintendo directly
    recruits people from digipen to work with them.
    I'm not sure if they develop games IN digipen for Nintendo. I think digipen also gets to use Nintendo's game development tools.
  • FYI: I beleive that NC State Univ is adding a graduate program in network engineering. And to the best of my knowledge it is the 1st degree program of it's kind. The MS begins in the fall '99 semester and the BS will start in a year or so.

    He who laughs last thinks slowest
  • I just happen to be the webmaster/sys admin for DigiPen. The school originated in canada, but has since moved to Redmond, WA. I'm pretty sure we are the first school to offer a degree in game programming (officially ``Real Time Interactive Simulation''), and we also offer a 3D Computer Animation Degree.

    The website is located at http://www.digipen.edu/ [digipen.edu], for the curious.
  • Let's hope they cover Linux, Mac, Be, etc. as viable game development and deployment platforms instead of just TV consoles and Win9x. Otherwise they could be churning out degrees not worth the paper they're written on ;-)

    #include "disclaim.h"
    "All the best people in life seem to like LINUX." - Steve Wozniak
  • Did anyone else's Mom say:
    You can't make a living playing video games> ?
    This URL is now sitting in her email to read.
  • You too eh? It's interesting that Teesside is doing it as the place was pretty much cutting edge in the UK back in the mid-80s, when I was there (doing English, but hanging out with the nerds). In the end it's probably just a way of getting government funds into the department but full marks for trying.

  • Game theory, simple design (required for performance), abstractable design (for simplicity in dependent programs). That's a world of difference from C++ and networking and protocols.

    A game is to a CS student interested in making interactive products from Computer Based Training to Disabled Aid and Rehabilitation the same thing OS development is to CS students who want to create systems that understand standard architectures.
  • The problem isnt that people are getting stupid, it's that the job field is getting bigger and colleges are staying the same. Let's face it, with a few exceptions most colleges have very little different from highschool except that the tests are harder, the classes are bigger, and you get to pick what you study. People used to go to college knowing little more than what they wanted to do as a career. They took that as their major and learned most of what they would need in their future job right there in college. Now that's essentially impossible. If you dont already know the subject you're going to college for you're going to have a hell of a time because the professors Expect you to already know your subject. I took an introductory class to C/C++ last semester.. every student who didnt already know the language failed. Not because the information wasnt there, we had an enormous textbook that ha pretty much everything you'd need to know for general purpose C programming. However, in trying to teach everything you'll need to know for cpt 103 next semester they have to pack it all in tight. By week 3 we were on functions and people still didnt know what exactly a variable was.

    People who ask "Hey, where can i get a degree in programming X" arent idiots, they do it because they know X, they're already reasonably talented at programming X, and they can see themselves getting a job in X if they just had that piece of paper proving it all. When i started college i was dreaming of an environment where i would actually learn for once.. in highschool i didnt learn a thing. I already knew the subject material and could pass the classes in my sleep (which a good portion of the time i did). I was hoping for a challenge in college and was thinking about trying a 2 year program in psychology before i went on to my comp. sci. degree just because i dont know much of anything beyond the basics of psychology.

    Then i got to college and realized, hey.. these guys want the same things my old HS teachers wanted.. memorize what they say and spit it back out. Sure, i expect that at some point down the road i'll probably learn something new in college.. but here i'm taking classes that teach me things i knew years ago and by the time i get to things like object oriented programming and whatnot i'll have learned that on my own too.

    What i'm saying here is, if someone knows a bit about game programming, they like doing it, they think they could get a job doing it already or maybe with a bit more study on the more involved things (AI programming, the more complicated graphics programming etc), and would like to do it for, if not their career, at least as a job for a while-- and despite the cultural taboo around anything to do with 'games', it Is a good job. there are alot of game companies and you make a fair salary doing it-- let them go for it. It cant be worse than some of the college programs they give away a degree for, and it's certainly better than some of them.

  • The question nobody seems to ask is, is this program really going to produce better game programmers than a more traditional computer science curriculum would? I think a case could be made for just the opposite; viz., that this degree program might attract people who don't understand the hard work that goes into game programming, and who lack the dedication to be successful at it.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I am still a big believer in the traditional liberal-arts education. My advice to the aspiring game programmer is to learn good programming fundamentals, learn to write effectively, get a good foundation in mathematics, and get a lot of exposure to history and humanities. In other words, just the things you get in a traditional degree program.

    Still, I've seen several posts on Slashdot from people who work in the games industry, and I'd be interested in hearing what they have to say. How about it, guys, do you think the people coming out of this program will make better game designers and programmers? When choosing someone to hire, would you prefer them over graduates of more traditional programs?


  • I think I can throw the light of experience on this because we have just interviewed a recent graduate of Teeside - the University that is running the games programming course - for a general programming job. We are a small consultancy working with real time and embedded systems; to some extent we were looking for C++ and/or Delphi expertise, but most of all a demonstrable interest in programming and some nous.

    The candidate explained that, although he had not been on the games programming course - I believe it starts this year - the Computer Science department at Teeside were being restructured ahead of the planned change, and this was reflected in the content of the units he had taken. Although C++ and Java appeared on his CV (as they do on all CVs I see), a little questioning showed that he knew virtually nothing about these languages. Not did he know anything about OO design and analysis, patterns, genericity, UML... He knew nothing at all about SQL except from what he had taught himself building a CD database in Access (for which points to him). His OS knowledge seemed essentially DOS-based with a smidgeon Windows.

    On the other hand, he did know how to wire up a joystick, claimed to have extensive knowledge of various graphics APIs (DirectX, OpenGL), 8086 (but not 80386) assembly language. A test showed him to be a competent C programmer. He said he knew something about how one designed games for playability, for which I took his word.

    He seemed surprised by my line of questioning (I got the impression we were one of his first interviews). He said that the C++ course teacher hated the language pasionately, and had encouraged the same attitude in his students.

    Sadly we weren't able to make him an offer - we are very small and unable to take a risk on somebody so narrowly edcuated. I dare say a larger company will take the risk - and he may well turn out to be an excellent person and an asset. Good luck to him.

    But this graduate, it seems to me, has been very poorly served by Teeside, and that institution would do well to review the direction in which it is headed. I'm sure it will be able to attract plenty of candidates to this course - but surely that is not the point.
  • by ODiV ( 51631 )
    kick @$$! Now if only they started something like that in Canada.

    hrm... Wonder what the merits of the program are vs. learning on your own. University isn't cheap. And I'm not too sure that'd I'd spend all that money to "play games".

    Oh wait, I am in university and that's all I do anyway. At least if I was in that program I'd get better grades. :)

    It'll be interesting to see how this works out.

  • Not to be rude, but does this have anything to do with warez (illegaly copied software)?

    Although a degree in warezing would be interesting... not very likely though.
  • After submitting this I realized I might not know everything when it comes to computer vocabulary and I might just be using the 'popularized' version of the word 'warez'.

    Anyone know of any other meaning for this besides illegal software? Was this word once noble, like 'hacker'?
  • by Mdoc ( 52027 )
    Why not just take general programming. There are a lot more jobs in that.
  • It's things like this that makes me think I was born either a bit too late (I didn't get to play as an adult on the first computers and come up with ideas to make shitloads of money) or a bit too early (degree in gaming?? Why did I waste my time on Physics and Computing?)

    "There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

  • The MS begins in the fall '99 semester and the BS will start in a year or so.

    Weird, I always thought the BS started with MS...

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    "There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

  • If you think about it, game programming really does tie in almost every area of computer science, and in fact, other extra-CS major areas as well. A good game programmer would need to know about plot, gfx, sound, algorithms, machine learning AI... the list goes on.

    IMHO I feel this major will show us some better game programmers in the future. Of course, as this major is so integrally tied-in with one, specific industry, any lull will be destroying a bachelor's degree for those people. Luctrative, yet risky.

  • The problem with having a degree in such subjects as web page design, game programming, or multimedia is that these are based on specific platforms that change too rapidly.

    Say somebody had taken a degree in "internet site design" in 1993, imagine how useful skills such as Gopher, HTML 1.0, Archie, Veronica, etc. would be today. The goal of a degree is to impart skills that are well founded in abstract thinking and solid principles of an art/science, which do not disappear after 5, 10, or 50 years. Otherwise it's a fad.

    There's also another aspect - game writing is a creative process. A degree in creative writing does not make somebody write more creatively. Similarly, a degree in game design won't make somebody who lacks imagination and programming skills into a good game designer.

  • I was just at DigiPen [digipen.edu] yesterday giving a talk, so I have a few facts and figures about them.

    They're the programming branch of the original DigiPen in Vancouver, BC. They teach the math, programming and game design skills needed for writing games and they grant "Degrees in Real Time Interactive Simulation" - i.e; games. They'll have about two hundred students this fall.

    I don't think a degree from DigiPen guarantees that you'll be any good as a game programmer, but it certainly gives you exposure to the necessary skills - many self taught game programmers miss some important skills, like linear algebra, or algorithm analysis, or something else.

    Most of their work is done on PCs, although they do have a lab of equipment supplied by Nintendo - they're in the same building. Nintendo hires a lot of the grads, but certainly not all.

  • Just a point here that we have a games programming laboratory and related courses here at the University of North Texas as well. You can't get a degree in games programming -- you'd get a degree in Computer Science. The lab is actually "self-sustaining" by writing and selling games to fund more toys... er... equipment. Since a lot of the big game companies are in this area (Dallas and Austin) a lot of our grads end up at pretty big-name games companies.

    The official name for the lab is the "Laboratory for Recreational Computing", and you can check it out at this link [unt.edu].

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"