MyDegree != YourDegree

Baylor (whom I met as student in his AI class at Brown) posted a link to an entry in Brenda Brathwaite’s blog the other day, where she’s ranting about the current state of game design curricula.   I enjoyed reading her thoughts, and found they hit home with what I’d been finding upon finishing my undergrad studies.  We left our school with the ability to create a coherent design document out of a good idea, but little practical experience in actually making that idea work because our classes focused more heavily on art and design theory.  Although we had few good coding classes, my favorite part of those three years was when I could sit down in front of the screen thinking, “Ok, I have this thing that needs to happen, now how do I actually make it happen?”  Our coding classes were among the most fun for me, and I still wish there had been a heavier focus on them.

I’m looking at starting my own small company, and am wishing I had stronger coding skills.  I’m still debating whether I’d rather take what I know and expand on my own or if I’d prefer a classroom setting.  Either way, I know I need to brush up on what I can do if I ever want someone else to hire me for a design position, which I’m interested in (and which is why I’m going to make some games before going out there; I want experience and a solid portfolio to show, not just some pretty pictures and nice stories).  I enjoy creating the art, I enjoy coding, I enjoy writing, and I enjoy coming up with ideas—I’d love to make my living combining those interests.  All in all, what I want to do is make games.  I want to make games that are fun.  The key word there is “make”—and the making of a game requires code.

Ms. Brathwaite writes, “Code is how a digital game is realized. Without it. . .you have only an idea for a game[.]”  She is, of course, right, and as it stands, that is all I have right now: an idea (and [thanks to my Entertainment Business Master’s degree program], a pretty decent business plan to stick under the nose of anyone interested in reading it).  That and $5 might get me coffee.  What gives me the idea that I can still turn this into something?

The saving grace for me, and what gives me faith that whether or not my company is successful, I can still create us a product, is that I can code.  I’m not the best, certainly, but I’m also not the worst.  When I’m stuck, I can usually figure out the right questions to ask to get the help I need, which to me is a sign of success in and of itself.   With that down, I feel quite confident that I can make a game.

I suppose what it boils down to is wishing that the confidence came from a foundation of experience, a knowledge that my feet have gotten wet and it’s ok to jump in, instead of wondering if that’s not really acid instead of water I’m about to plunge headlong into.

Then again, what fun would life be if we already had all the answers?

(Brenda Brathwaite’s 3/1/2011 entry: http://bbrathwaite.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/built-on-a-foundation-of-code-game-edu-rant/)

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