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4:45pm on Wednesday, 22nd October, 2014:
I've just finished interviewing the last of the eight games students whom I've been allocated this year as their tutor. There were supposed to be nine, but one didn't show up. The point of the interviews is basically to make sure that none of them are at risk of giving up and going home: we lose quite a lot of students to homesickness, course too hard, course too easy, no friends, love-life issues, financial problems and so on. These tutor/tutee interviews are to make sure everyone is settling in so we can get them help if they're not.
Fortunately, few people in Computer Science have those kind of issues - they're mainly a social sciences and humanities thing. We tend to know in advance which of our students are likely to experience problems settling in, because it's usually down to their having an already-identified specific learning difficulty (eg. Asperger's syndrome). This means that I can flat out ask my tutees if they're going to jump out of a tower block and they'll laugh, rather than think about it.
I don't normally get to interview games students, as tutor/tutee allocation has traditionally worked by listing lecturers in alphabetical order in one column, students in alphabetical order in another, then giving each lecturer a block of 8-10 students in order. This has meant my tutees have had names beginning with A, which means most of them are from Arab countries, the governments of which have sent them to learn about telecommunications or electronics rather than games. I know nothing about telecoms or electronics, so haven't really been able to engage with them. This time, they've broken it down by module type instead so I got games students only. Yay!
I've only spoken to these eight tutees of mine this year, but if they're a representative sample of who's on the games degree then we've got a really smart intake. They're switched on, they understand games, they know what they want to do and why they want to do it. Most of them seem to me as if they have a definite future in the games industry - and some of them may well make their own future in it whether the industry likes it or not, they're very driven. I'm hugely impressed! I'm also kinda worried in case when I get them next year they'll find my module too wishy-washy; I may have to increase the intellectual content above its current level. Then again, I may have already had to do that as I don't know what the current cohort of second-years is like.
Oh, and two of the eight students I interviewed were female. I don't suppose that this means a quarter of the games degree's students are female, but if it does then we're halfway to what the ideal figure should be.
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