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4:45pm on Tuesday, 8th June, 2010:



So, I spent most of the day yesterday and today looking at students' work and listening to their presentations at the Gotland Game Awards.

There are several dozen games on display. The first-years make arcade games, for which they construct cabinets:

I see this and I'm filled with despair for UK games degrees.

Gotland university is quite small, with around 1,500 students overall. A third of these study games. The course is four years long, and in the second term for each of those years the students split into groups of 5-10 students. Those groups will then make a game from scratch in 10 weeks.

They can do this because they do nothing else for 10 weeks except make their game. No lectures, no classes: just game-making. The results are very impressive. At Essex university, it would be impossible to timetable an entire term in which undergraduates only took one module that had no lectures, classes or labs, and the same is almost certainly true of every other university in the UK. We just couldn't do that. How, then, can we compete with universities that can? Well we can't: no wonder game developers here in force for the GGA.

It's not all doom and gloom, in that not only could my students not have made the games I saw on display here, some of them they wouldn't have made even if they had been given the time; this is because they had gameplay flaws that my students would have done the maths for and noticed. However, given that we don't teach graphics at Essex, even if they had time they wouldn't have had the skills, so it's rather a hollow point.

The funding is great, too, as you might expect with that many students. I'm here as a judge, but so are Ernest Adams, Patricia Pizer, Susan Gold and a bunch of people from industry. They've been flown in from all over the place. At Essex, I don't even have a budegt to fly myself to any conferences, let allone have one to fly in other people. Augh!

Thank goodness Gotland teaches in Swedish and not English.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).