GDC: Day 2 continued

 In Conferences, Travel, Uncategorized

After our presentation, the rest of the day for me consisted of the IGDA ‘working lunch’ for academics and industry people, followed by Jesse Schells talk about his book and finishing with the IGDA party which continued into the wee hours.

The working lunch consisted of tables of students academics and industry folk sitting together and talking about the relationship between education and industry. I think we decided that they were both good ideas.

I didn’t get the names of the other people at my table, but what stood out for me was the need for programmers, designers and artists to learn to communicate and understand each other’s worlds, if they are going to work together on teams. A programmer doesn’t need to know how to make art, but she does need to know how to talk to an artist and have some appreciation of what constraints the artist has to deal with in his work, so that she doesn’t expect him to do the impossible. And vice versa.

To this end, cross-disciplinary programs are a must. Students need to have some exposure to working together with their colleagues from different disciplines before they enter the workforce. Setting up this kind of cross-disciplinary work it very difficult in practice, due to bureaucracy and inter-school rivalry for funding. Ideally this is what universities should be good at, and the higher-ups all pay lip service to this ideal, but in practice it is unnecessarily difficult to make happen, at least in my experience.

The Art of Game DesignAfter lunch I attended Jesse Schell’s talk about his book. His theme was “how to talk about my book without having read it” and he provided a very elegant potted summary with one key sentence for each chapter. I don’t know if he is going to put his slides online, but if you can find them they are well worth reading.

Jesse mentioned that he had a lot of third-party reading material that he also wanted to include in the book but cut for space reasons. He’s promised to send me his reading list, which should keep me in blog material for years. One author he strongly recommended was Christopher Alexander, author of the Pattern Language book. After the talk I was standing in conversation with Jesse and Warren Spector, and they were making plans to invite Alexander to next year’s GDC. I think it would be a great idea. I wonder whether he even realises that he is idolised by so many game developers.

Patterns in Game DesignTalking of design patterns, I met Staffan Bjork at the IGDA party. He is one of the authors of Patterns in Game Design, a book of game-related design pattern with what I think are… serious shortcomings. The book came up in conversation and not realising who Staffan was I almost launched into a stinging critique. Fortunately I hesitated long enough to realise who I was talking to and avoided embarassing myself. It turned out that he kind of agreed with me… but more on that when I actually get around to reviewing it.

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