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Friday, October 3, 2014

Change Current Classwork, Not the Whole Major

     At the PCT GameDevs meeting yesterday we went over Unity's free 2D features (instead of the $75 2D Toolkit plugin I use) then discussed changing the major to suit our needs. The day before this I briefly spoke with a classmate in the gym and he suggested not pitching a whole degree, but just sticking to fixing the current one. That got me thinking hard (mostly because I don't want to go to political war with the school) and I decided it would be best to just change what we do in our 4 given game design classes.

     This would be a much easier task to pull off than pitching a new major to the school and researching all the courses and financials. It will also put less workload on the two professors running the game courses. Two members and I plan to meet with both gaming instructors sometime in the coming week to discuss changes to classwork in game development courses.

     Some days in class the instructor would have some neat nugget of information to walk us through. Things like having a 2D spaceship orbit a planet and shoot little bullets, or making a procedurally generated city covered in dense fog. We'd make these things together in class then have time leftover to experiment and add to them. Those class days were much more interesting than following the long tutorial making up most of the textbook.

     People have been bashing the major in and out of meetings, getting professors under fire by the deans receiving angry emails. I feel responsible because of how I started this club out of frustration. I love what the instructors are trying to do. The head instructor of Gaming & Simulation worked her butt off to have it exist in the first place but has told me that she feels betrayed (as if she "hung her own noose") now that PCT GameDevs exists and students are lashing out every chance they get. She's also told other students how upset she was about the situation and is likely the one who erased all the PCT GameDevs advertisements I wrote in the gaming lab. If this keeps up there likely won't be a gaming major in the future at all.

     Hearing that breaks my heart because I feel like all this could have been avoided if I just kept my head down and let the anger among students keep boiling. No matter how frustrating it got I would personally be okay because of all the sacrifices and opportunities I made to get to where I am right now. Other students may be inferior candidates for jobs in high demand but I would be fine being me. I wanted to help students at least get to where I am but this whole mess has me feeling like it's doing more harm than good for the teachers and the major itself.

     I was selfish for pushing the major to be what it could be instead of accepting what it is and how to tweak it for game design purposes. Gaming & Simulation is a pure programming degree that touches on game development as well as networking and IT security. When I arrived I wanted to be a programmer. that dream shifted to Creative Director, then to indie so I should have changed schools at that point too. The problem with that was how expensive everywhere else was and how my credits would be wasted, so I stuck to my degree but dropped the Mathematics minor.

     We don't yet live in a world where parents are excited to toss their kids at a video game focused degree. It takes convincing, and blanketing it as a programming degree that touches on that fun thing the kid really wants is the happy medium that works right now. If we can't change the major for future generations just yet, we can just make the best out of what we have and continue to help each other.

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