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IGDA Academic Summit Case Studies

IGDA Academic Summit Case Studies

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IGDA Academic Summit Case Studies

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  1. IGDA Academic SummitCase Studies Game Developers Conference March 4-5, 2003 San Jose

  2. JB EA University, teaching the best John W. Buchanan University Research Liaison Dude Electronic Arts

  3. JB Summary • EA is in many ways market leader • Ships over 60 games a year • On time and on budget • Very concerned with product development • Training time is scarce to find • Aggressive full time training program

  4. JB Summary – cont’d • Trainers must accommodate production schedule • Courses must be tailored to our industry

  5. JB Challenges • Senior people self taught • Work with senior people to help them understand the importance of leading with attendance • Production driven company • Trainers must adapt schedule to production teams • Full time employees with over 5 years of educational experience prior to EA • Curriculum is tailored to the industry

  6. JB Benefits • Academia • Our teaching staff spends time in academia • Our teaching staff sits on numerous academic PAC • Industry • Software engineering the EA way • C++ targetted at games (stl example) • AI for games…

  7. JB Advice • Training is important • Our tasks have significantly changed • Game programmers  tool programmers • Force the team to take courses during pre-production • Builds team • They all learn the same language • They can apply on next iteration

  8. DC Technology Forum Derric Clark Senior Instructor University of Advancing Technology -

  9. DC Summary • Individual Presentations • Varying topics based on the speakers area of expertise • Student Question and Answer session • Panel Discussions • A moderated round table discussion with the speakers driven by student questions

  10. DC Summary – cont’d • Student Work Critique • Students submit work to be critiqued by the industry experts • Social Events • After the presentations many of the speakers join students and staff in a social setting to talk about concepts and academics

  11. DC Challenges • Scheduling • Develop a large pool of contacts willing to participate in these events • Industry Involvement • Educate those in industry of the value of education and these type of events

  12. DC Benefits • Academia • Using the knowledge of industry professionals to shape a student’s growth. • Reinforcement of principles taught in the classroom by industry professionals • Industry • Shaping future workers of the game industry • Dispel many of the myths of the game industry

  13. DC Advice • Attend as many conferences and industry events to build a network of contacts • Plan the event with enough flexibility to work around production timelines and cancellation • Allow the speaker to choose their topic based on their experience and expertise

  14. AC The EGaDS! Initiative Ariel Comstock Systems Analyst/Advisor, EGaDS! University of Texas at Austin

  15. AC Summary • EGaDS! Initiative • EGaDS! - a student organization at UT Austin • Internal committee to help research/establish game dev. program • Motivation – no formalized program or courses of study • Small steps • Review IGDA Curriculum Framework • Research UT Web/course catalog • Identify interdisciplinary academic units (IAU’s) /supportive departments

  16. AC Summary – cont’d • Course list • Work in progress • Interdisciplinary • What we could do today • What’s Next? • Work with IAU’s/faculty to • incorporate courses • overcome prereqs for non-majors where applicable

  17. AC Challenges • Limited time: Students want to know what they can take NOW • Compiled a list of existing courses • Communicated findings to students • Which courses to include? • Read course descriptions for key words/concepts • Asked students about courses they could suggest • Reviewed the curriculum framework for guidance

  18. AC Benefits • Academia • Education of “thinkers” to adapt to the job market • When the University decides to formalize a degree/certificate program, this research can provide a springboard. • Industry • Applicant pool with a more focused set of skills • New talent/fresh ideas

  19. AC Advice • Find out what you’ve got • Research your university and course catalog • Ask students about course experiences • Identify supportive programs and individuals • Then leverage it • Communicate results to programs/individuals • Encourage students to take the courses and ask for more focused material

  20. TF Industry playtests for student game prototypes Tracy Fullerton Adjunct Faculty Interactive Media Division USC School of Cinema-Television

  21. TF Summary • Game design course focuses on fundamentals of system design • Students work in teams to create paper prototypes of their game systems, which are playtested in class • Students run critique sessions to elicit feedback from the playtesters, and then re-work their systems out of class • Students bring the revised games back for more playtesting and feedback

  22. TF Summary – cont’d • A number of industry professionals have participated in our in-class playtesting sessions, offering real-world perspectives on the student designs • Representatives from a number of companies have participated over the past four years: • Activision, Infogrames, Dreamworks Interactive, Jellyvision, Shiny Entertainment, Pandemic Studios, Naughty Dog and Legless Productions

  23. TF Challenges • Create a workshop environment where the focus is on learning system design, not technology • Create paper prototypes • Test prototypes over multiple sessions • Give feedback that comes from real-world experience • Invite game design professionals to participate in playtests

  24. TF Benefits • Academia • Gives students a chance to interact at a creative level with professionals • Students really take feedback from professionals to heart • Industry • Gives game design professionals a chance to step out of “trenches” and participate in game design at a different level than they do day to day

  25. TF Advice • Set expectations up front • Industry folks will be surprised to see paper games – let them know ahead of time that this is the plan and why • Don’t waste professionals’ time on games that are not playable • To get the best results, the games must be completely playable, viable systems, hopefully on at least second round of playtesting

  26. SG Entertainment Technology (ETEK)@ Sierra Nevada College - Lake Tahoe Susan Gold Digital Arts Program Director Co-chair ETEK Sierra Nevada College - Lake Tahoe

  27. SG Summary • Entertainment Technology is the marriage of two special programs offered at SNC: Computer Science and Digital Fine Art • This is an interdisciplinary program • The program moves beyond traditional classroom models, encouraging teamwork, exploration and dynamic working partnerships • Developed with advice from CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center

  28. SG Summary – cont’d • Sensitive to the liberal arts school environment, this program encourages integration of other areas of interest and knowledge • Central components are field trips to game/film production houses, GDC, SIGGRAPH and internships • Students complete a Minor in Entertainment Technology by taking 18 credits (6 classes) • The program emphasizes the design and construction of virtual worlds, using games as one of the primary vehicles

  29. SG Challenges • Hard to find adjuncts willing to accept what is considered as pay • Find folks who love to teach – and for whom monetary compensation is tertiary • Access to industry interested in assisting us build our program • Personal contacts; cold calls

  30. SG Benefits • Academia • This is a program whose interdisciplinary nature is critical – not optional • High profile – highly attractive to incoming students: increases enrollment • Industry • Students graduate with technical skills and are ready to start working • Students are used to working in diverse teams, communicating effectively across disciplines

  31. SG Advice • Planning • Have or develop contacts in the industry • Be able to tap talent to deliver the courses • Chutzpah !

  32. KH 2 + 2+ 2+ Curriculum Development Kathleen Harmeyer Associate Professor, IMMT The Community College of Baltimore County

  33. KH Summary • 2 years Baltimore County High Schools • 4 Articulated Courses • Parallel Enrollment • 2 Years CCBC Essex Campus • A.A.S. in Simulation & Digital Entertainment • Beginning courses in authoring, scripting, digital imaging, animation, audio, video • Humanities: mythology, philosophy, etc.

  34. KH Summary – cont’d • 2+ years at University of Baltimore • BTPS Simulation & Digital Entertainment • Internship intensive • Collaborative research with game developers • Information Architecture, Usability, etc. • Feed Hunt Valley industry • Beginning level builders, w/BTPS • Advanced designers, w/Masters Degree

  35. KH Challenges • Identify niche in industry • Game Design with prototyping skills • Graphic Design with animation skills • Provide appropriate knowledge set • Work with industry leaders • Joe Biglin, CEO Breakaway Games, Inc. • Chris Clark, CEO Xi-Interactive, Inc.

  36. KH Benefits • Academia • Opportunities to work with emerging technologies • New programs to attract students • Industry • Talented and skilled recruits • Ties to academic research and development

  37. KH Advice • Don’t try it alone. Get industry input. • Work quickly. Emphasize opportunities.

  38. DL Lecturers on Tour Daniel Livingstone Lecturer University of Paisley

  39. DL Summary • Two lecturers from the University of Paisley spent a total of 9 months at a local games dev studio (Red Lemon) • Building contacts • Getting feedback on course development

  40. DL Summary – cont’d • Learning about game development • Coding • Production • Learning about difficulties faced by developers • Ending with host company closing down during placement

  41. DL Challenges • Lack of clearly defined tasks • Offer to lend a hand: playtesting! Created contact with programmers and artists. • Unable to participate in ‘new’ project • Interview sample of staff about past and current projects. Discuss proposals with designers.

  42. DL Benefits • Academia • Some practical experience • Wide range of personal contacts • Industry • Extra hands – for free • Tell academics what is needed and get better graduates

  43. DL Advice • If you can, spend time working inside a games company – even professors can playtest • Seek external funding

  44. MM Façade: interactive drama research, art, product prototype Michael Mateas Asst. Professor, Georgia Tech (former CMU PhD student)

  45. MM Summary • We are completing a 3+ year collaboration to design and implement a novel architecture for interactive drama, and create a working, finished interactive experience within this architecture, called Façade. • Within this one project, we are simultaneously engaged in AI research (including publications), art making (freely distributable), and commercial product prototyping. 

  46. MM Summary – cont’d • During our collaboration, Michael was a PhD graduate student in computer science at CMU, and is now an Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech with a joint appointment in Literature, Communication & Culture, and the College of Computing. • Andrew was a developer at PF.Magic / Mattel Media in San Francisco for 7 years, and is now principal of, an independent game developer using Façade as a prototype for new commercial products.

  47. MM Challenges • Funding • Solution: Be poor for a little while. In our case, Michael lived on a graduate student salary, and Andrew was mostly self-funded, buffered by money saved up from working in the game industry. • Finishing • Solution: Perseverance. Research usually does not finish to the point that the work is truly polished and playable. Must allow lots of extra time for this, beyond the point that the research goals are met.

  48. MM Benefits • Academia • Forces research to be real, relevant • Gets research out of the lab into the real world • Industry • Allows for greater innovation & risk taking – take a leap forward, not just another incremental step (develop new genres) • Taps into a wealth of knowledge and resources

  49. MM Advice • Be prepared for the project to take a long time – real research takes much longer than typical product schedules • Don't be worried about publishing – it's a good thing • Don't get hung up on patents – are they really necessary?

  50. PR The Guildhall at SMU: A New Educational Program in Digital Game Development Peter E. Raad Professor and L. W. Hart Director Hart eCenter Guildhall at SMU