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I’m coming into this debate a little late in the day.

I’m currently teaching Game Development, with both Post Grad and Undergrad students.

The courses (Graduate Diploma in Games Development, and Diploma in Interactive Gaming) have both been designed with significant industry feedback, as well as in harmony with the IGDA Framework.

We’ve heard from Midway, Pandemic, to name but a few, who are looking for various levels of employees, and have commented that traditional ‘red-brick’ Universities take too long to react to industry needs. They see specialised / focused courses (both undergrad & post grad) as a necessity.

They’ve gone on record, stating that ‘general purpose programmers’ are not attractive, and they prefer to see students with in-depth knowledge of particular areas (lighting, shading, kinematics, etc.)

Furthermore, some of those polled, including Sony, commented on their in-house training as a preferred means to up-skill entry level programmers.

In saying that, I am a formally trained Software Engineer, with a BSc in Applied Computer Science. 4 years of hard work. Although the curriculum was not all applicable (or necessary), I must accept that it provides me with unique insights. Relational & OO Database (POET) design is now central theory for MMORPG’s. Network Administration & Security is core for apps like PunkBuster. Systems Analysis & Design is Game Design 101. Who would have thought…?

I am still partially divided as to what is the best option for students? Specific, traditional SE at undergrad (4 years) and specialise at post grad (2 years+) or short-term specialised courses (2-3 years).

I guess a fair compromise would be for traditional SE degrees to include more real-time programming, or games as assignment (not blackjack or tetris!), and see if the Game Theory could be ‘smuggled’ (for lack of a better word) in that way.

Industry needs tend to be the driving force, however, if the games industry was to go “belly up” (however unlikely that is) 10,000 HLSL programmers may find it hard to gain employment, in traditional software engineering roles.

There is usually a fair bit of discussion on this topic at the GDC. Has anyone found any relevant material?