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8:01pm on Tuesday, 28th January, 2020:
I had the Oliver Twins as guest speakers for my CE217 class this week.
I don't normally invite guest speakers as I'm worried that my students won't show up and it'll be embarrassing, but actually there was a very good turnout. It's not every day that someone whose work is featured on a postage stamp comes to the university (although there was that time in the 2000s when The Queen paid a visit) (not to my class, though).
As it happened, they hadn't managed to buy any of the stamps with their game (Dizzy) on it themselves as post offices have completely sold out. I gave them mine, as a fair exchange for three signed books that I can give away to students as prizes in next week's class.
What I liked about the twins' talk was that it started out as if it was some kind of historical "this is what we did a long time ago" talk of no relevance to the present day. However, as they progressed through the decades, it became abundantly clear that much of what they had to learn about the games industry the hard way is still what would-be game developers have to learn today. Furthermore, just because they made a bunch of games in the 1980s doesn't mean they stopped — they ran a 200-person studio until they sold it last year. They're absolutely current — more so than me, for sure. The discussions about the future of games showed that they were ahead of the curve and knew about things coming that the students didn't. Just because you made your name in the past, that doesn't mean you're not of the past; indeed, it can mean you're of the future.
If the Oliver twins were in any other creative industry — film, music, television, painting, writing — they'd have knighthoods by now. They're in games, though, so come to universities to try to encourage the next generation of game designers and developers to do their own thing — to show the world what games can do.
It was a great three hours, with some passionate discussion after the talk itself. It will certainly have been of more use to my students than the class I was going to give would have been.
Ha! This should increase the marks I get in the Student Assessment of Coursework exercise!
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