Saturday, August 17, 2013

On My Mind: The Game Designer bubble?

So during the season premier of Breaking Bad, this commercial showed up.

I had to do a double take.  Wait, was I suppose to be a wizard?  Swipe code on a touch screen? Make 3D cars pop out from thin air?  Is this what people think game designers and game developers do?

Sure, let's ignore the fact that it's a fantastical treatment of what "a game designer" do, just the idea that an aspiring game designer is trying to go to school with this magical tablet/laptop is just as absurd.  For every main stem of game development (design, program, art, sound), that type of tablet is pretty much the most useless device: it'll lack the storage and horsepower to do anything important, but push towards the gimmick of selling you a device they're trying to sell. (Yes, I'm aware that it's an ad, but follow along)

Then there's this series of ads from Samsung:

In this series of ads for the Galaxy devices, you see a "game studio" and the people in it interacting with each other and highlight the divide between the people who get technology and who doesn't.  Sure, I get the point of it selling a device, but the caricature of all the "developers" are just so rage inducing.  Pretentious, hipster, douchebag.  If I ever meet one of these people in real life, I would have punched them all in the face.  Sadly, this is the caricature that's being presented to the world: game developers are hip, savvy people that you all need to follow, because they know what they're doing, and you should follow their lead.


What I'm highlighting is a question: is the "game development" role as viewed by the outside world completely skewed?  It's the "in" thing now, and everyone wants to cash in, and it feels kind of scary how much cashing in is going on, and whether that bubble will burst.  And this is most noticable within the "education" sector.

As an example, on my way home at a subway stop, I saw this:

...wait, another school promising "game design" in Toronto?  At last check searching for game design schools in Toronto yields close to more than half a dozen: UOIT, Humber, Seneca, Centennial, George Brown, RCC, Trios, and now this.  (Sidenote: I'll leave the criticism of the actual programs out of this for now, but I think it's fair to say that some of them are somewhat questionable) I'm all for democratizing game development, but how many jobs are there really in this industry, and is the supply side over saturating the demand?  Remember, these potential graduates are also competing with artists and programmers from other degrees for similar starting positions.  So are these schools and degrees potentially training people for a "trade" that doesn't exist, leaving only broken dreams?

Remember to tighten up the graphics on level 3!

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