If nobody makes a move, nothing gets accomplished. I'm sick of the way my school handles its game development major, so I'm suggesting change to a high authority. I sent a letter to the school dean in hopes of making the curriculum suit game development more thoroughly. After I sent it, I posted it on LinkedIn to get the opinions of other students and Alumni. The responses I got were insightful and directed me to a more reasonable course of action.
I can't link the discussion because it's exclusive, but I can summarize that I now recognize where the line between school and self motivation is drawn. The filler classes exist so people can apply those skills if they switch careers or just know where to start when they finally come in handy. My slightly changed argument is to now put a stronger emphasis on marketing courses, portfolio building opportunities, and open electives in place of 5 particular classes that could be better spent for this particular major.
Read on to see what I sent to the dean.
Hello Dean Cotner,
I am Anthony Pendley, sophomore in the Gaming & Simulation major and author of the Yotes Games game development blog. My fellow students and I have had many complaints about the required courses for the Gaming & Simulation major and I have decided to take action.
In short the current curriculum covers all generic IT career requirements when it should be preparing students to become valuable assets in the gaming industry. Other majors already cover generic IT classes to prepare for a more generalized career in programming, database development, and security management. Software Development for example, is a major helpful for students seeking careers involving development of more serious applications instead of creative works for entertainment. A couple of my friends switched to for just that reason.
I've become frustrated with courses that barely relate to things I'll actually be doing when working on games while useful skills are being ignored. I soon discovered that nearly every other BGS student felt the same when I spoke with them.
Why is it that we have two database courses while sophomore students are incapable of producing completed simple games? Shouldn't mobile game development be taught earlier? Wouldn't a class teaching students how to market a game in saturated and competitive portals be more useful than a LINUX course? Learning how to properly submit software to popular marketplaces and distribution channels be more handy than Operating Systems Concepts?
Why is the most useful game development skill never taught? The ability to conduct research and be self-motivated enough to use resources, namely Google, to find solutions to problems as they arise. The BGS students are upset that two years into the degree, less than 5 students have the ability to create finished products to build a portfolio, and those students (including myself) are all self-taught.
I understand and respect the current course requirements, but I cannot deny how misplaced they are. Students should be taught the fundamentals of their career choice before being bombarded with coursework that is loosely related. The way classes are now, it seems like every faculty member is trying to pull students out of the gaming industry and into other IT fields. Gaming students specifically chose Gaming & Simulation to avoid being in such careers. We use our computer skills developed from playing video games in order to create virtual worlds and express ourselves through a medium we understand best. Any other career choice would just lead to an unhappy and unfulfilled life that far too many people are doomed to these days.
I would like to formally discuss changes in the Gaming & Simulation curriculum in hopes of producing happier students and more success stories that started at Penn College. I want to help future students in the program learn the skills required to become industry leaders capable of seizing a multitude of career options in the field of their choosing. It's simply a matter of giving them a foundation based on general game conception, development, and marketing followed by the skill to pursue more knowledge on their own.
Please respond whenever you can if this letter is of any interest to you.
Thank you for your time,
Anthony D. Pendley
Gaming and Simulation