30 Things This Blog is About (#9: Games Academia)

For all of my excitement about working in the games industry, it’s important to me that I don’t forget where I came from. My education was in Comparative Media Studies, where I focused on video games. There, I got my taste of video game academia, where the focus is more on the potential of games and the various lofty goals they can achieve than the actual details of creation.

Having been on both sides, I find the animosity between games academia and professional video game development equal parts compelling and concerning. The cultural intuition that underlies game development is largely unknown or misunderstood in games academia, making it difficult to turn the theories and potential into solid, real games. Similarly, the lofty goals and blue-sky creativity of academia have the capability to breathe fresh air into the industry proper. Working together, these two groups could achieve incredible success.

Unfortunately, the reality is that games academia and professional game development tend to look down on one another, and do very little to meet in the middle. The different sides both feel like they have a more complete picture than the other, and thus have some difficulty benefiting from each other’s work. What I find particularly interesting, though, is that when the two do work together closely (usually from academics getting jobs in the industry), the results are often striking and innovative.

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