The Challenges of Designing in an Academic Context

I never liked group projects as an undergrad, and that was just for boring things like presentations — the idea of having my graduate thesis dependent on a whole team of (interdisciplinary) people besides my dissertation committee makes my blood run cold. Matt Korba has an interesting postmortem of his The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, intended to be his graduate thesis for an MFA in Interactive Media Department at USC. Beyond issues that usually crop up in postmortems, Korba takes a look at some of the challenges that come with designing in an academic context:

Game courses in engineering schools tend to be focused on solving technical challenges, whereas design programs focus on the innovation of gameplay. To produce the best possible student game, these two forces need to collaborate.

For interdepartmental game classes to work, I feel the focus should always be on what is best for the project. Collaborative game development should be approached as more than a system of technical features. In the case of Winterbottom, learning to work on a team was more important to the student engineers than getting the recording features to work. Although learning to solve technical challenges is extremely important for students, in a class where the object is to make a good game, the focus should be on just that.

All of this makes me pretty glad I'm part of a 'lonely discipline,' where we're more or less turned loose to do our own thing. An interesting read and worth a look if you're interested in what goes on in the hallowed Ivory Tower.

Student Postmortem: USC's The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom [GameCareerGuide]


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