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2:50pm on Thursday, 5th September, 2019:

Late Night


I got up at 3am this morning for my annual participation as opening guest speaker for Gordon Bellamy's University of Southern California games programme.

As usual, the first 30 minutes were spent trying to get Skype to work. I had high hopes this time round, as I'd decided to use my mobile phone rather than the Internet and had a very strong signal on it. I don't know what the signal at USC was like but I can't imagine it was bad unless the connection was wireless and the 50 students in the class were all sharing it. Skype declared that the connection was poor, anyway. Eventually, I had to do the talk over a regular phone, which amazingly worked very well. Of course, the cost of an international call is so expensive that it damned well ought to work very well. Anyway, this meant that there was no video, only audio, and so the students were spared from having to look at my face for two hours - a win all round.

The talk ended with a Q&A session. Some of the questions were tricky ones I hadn't been asked before (this course has somewhat elite students on it). What _is_ the thing I like the absolute most about designing games? Hmm... Being asked interesting questions is one of the reasons I agree to engage in this exercise in sleep deprivation. The question I've been asked most this year is whether I can give some clue as to what's in the exam (answer: yes - it'll consist entirely of things I've covered in lectures).

The students get to rate the guest speakers at the end of their course. I do not rate highly: I'm lucky if 1 in 20 says I'm their favourite. Being first doesn't help, but having to communicate using recalcitrant satellites is probably worse. I wouldn't be surprised if someone else was asked instead another time. 40-year-old games don't sound relevant to today's students.

California time is 8 hours behind UK time, so my 3am-5am session is 7pm-9pm out there. This is not a time slot I would expect many students at Essex University to observe; then again, anything not 11am-1pm is a time slot guaranteed to be unpopular here. Californian students seem to be fine with it, though.

I guess they must play their games during the day, rather than in the evening.

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Copyright © 2019 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).