3 thoughts on “Keeping current and staying valuable

  1. Arnold Hendrick says:

    I can second Lloyd’s viewpoint. The best education is one that teaches you how to learn – throughout your lifetime.

    As someone on the product development side of the industry (both designer and producer), broadening your knowledge and understanding is key to being successful. I am constantly amazed by Producers who stagger from crisis to crisis, never investing the time to gain professional skills (such as Scrummaster certification, or for the truly ambitious, certification as a Project Management Professional – PMP). Experience and hard knocks is slow and costly, both for your career and for the companies/teams you serve. Just because game companies rarely provide or value training doesn’t mean it won’t help YOU do a better job.

    Similarly, I’ve encountered too many game designers who get along on personal gut instinct and mastery of one or two game engine tool-sets. In a studio where the creative director shares similar instincts, and they use that engine, you have a job. But when the world changes, such as the transition from 1-player games to MMOs, or AAA games to mobile games, or from $60 boxes to online F2P, often accompanied by new technology and new engines, you’re suddenly less useful than someone half the price.

    Graduate from gut feel by learning how different gameplay mechanics match to different audiences. Learn how to put yourself in the customer’s shoes – rather than assuming every customer wants to walk in your shoes. View the industry’s changing landscape as a game to play and enjoy, rather than cruel jests as your expense. Refresh (or learn if necessary) basic algebra and probability — so you can build game systems as well as game levels. Being widely read in literature, history, math and science, as well as pop culture and pop fiction, comes in handy when the opportunity arises for a position in some new application for game design, such as games that train real-life skills or adver-gaming. Accumulating these knowledge and skills gives you the perspective to shine as a Creative Director.

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  2. Well said, Lloyd. And I agree with Arnold that one if the best skills one can gain is “learning to learn”. You only get better with practice, just like anything else.

    Another good resource for free learning material is MIT’s OpenCourseWare, which provides free course material and lectures for many of MIT’s courses: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

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