The Gaming Industry Has A Tale to Tell

Consider this statement:

… the greatest game programmer of 1985 would be completely worthless today without a complete re-education. None of their existing knowledge would be useful. Heck, someone from 2005 would have some catching up to do before they could really contribute to a modern team. Tools and techniques are going extinct as fast as new ones are invented, which means everyone needs to be constantly learning just to retain their current level of competence.
Then this:
Technologically speaking, there has never been a safe place to stand. At any moment the public might run off in pursuit of a new device, new type of controller, new way of doing graphics, or a new kind of gameplay…
What’s this about?
So video games have changed more often, the change has been more abrupt and less forgiving, and it’s all happened in a much shorter period of time. These shifts happened several times to a single generation of people, instead of working their way gradually through the industry as each new generation supplanted the previous one. The result is an industry that doesn’t know how to do its job. And I think this explains a lot of the dysfunction we see today.
These quotes are from Shamus Young (@shamusyoung) in his column post: “The Video Game Industry Is Going Through Some Really Awkward Growing Pains” on the Escapist. His description of the industry took me by surprise.  The breathtaking speed of change he illustrates coupled with the enormous pressure on developers, writers, and executives to adapt, produce, and distribute quickly  or have their projects (and companies) die a swift death gave me pause.  Here’s a rapidly growing industry that is technology-based and where the number of jobs is expanding (for now) and look at what they are dealing with:
  • Constantly moving market targets
  • management inexpertise
  • people at all levels of development and production barely able to keep pace or to guess well what the next big thing might be

In effect it’s the new real world on steroids – that “real world” we’re supposed to be preparing our kids for. And not surprisingly there is plenty of chaos according to Young.  So in this type of scenario, your survival depends on your ability to learn and unlearn quickly. You need to be able to let go of outdated or obsolete applications about as quickly as you can grasp and apply new ones. Your capacity to work well with others, to collaborate, meet deadlines, and demonstrate flexibility in the process are crucial. Initiative, creativity, big picture thinking along with an eye for minute detail contribute further to insuring your fit for this industry.

My point here is neither to sound an alarm or point a finger, rather to simply draw attention to what’s happening out there, beyond our education frontier.  We, educators and parents, need to keep our eyes and ears open for the trends of the working life our kids may encounter and consider them as we keep moving their learning in the direction of increased relevance and authenticity.

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