Monday, April 10, 2023

Master Game Design Study

A retrospective view of my attendance in the educational system in Finland. Well, not necessarily to Finland schools only, but can be perceived as a global trend, though perhaps not in China or Germany. This part takes on my view of Aalto University, which is branded as a university, but it contains elements of a polytechnic institute. It is nowadays hard to tell which is a university or polytechnic assembly, because everything is commercialized. I tried to get into the masters program of game design, which sounded cool, but the reception was kind of awkward in the game place. This happened over 10 years ago, and has haunted me ever since, mainly because I got disqualified and the disappointment of such a “prestigious” school. I was already graduating in my bachelors in Arts Academy of Turku, where teachers had this vague childish battle of politics and power. After that, my “career” took a sudden stop and changed my view of pursuing ladders in the corporate world.

The game design programme contained an entrance examination. First phase was about doing some qualification tasks, literary and some game design documents, which needed to be done with some preliminary guides. I dont remember what the tasks were about, except one, which was about something to do with designing a board game with a theme of jealousy. I did the tasks, posted them and later got into phase two, which was a visitation to the school where there was an interview by various people. I dont know who these people were, i cant remember was there any introductions at all, but if there were and I dont remember the titles. Only interviewer i do remember vaguely was probably a leader of the whole board, who resembled a poor mans Tom Hall, I mean mainly by external composition. He had this weird obsession to keep a time in every phase of the interview. If time was running out he had to make a notification from it. I mean the interview was already 30 minutes late by the interviewers, because I remember I played Nintendo DS for a long time in the “lobby” waiting my turn. Why do they punish interviewees, if they cannot keep the integrity of their schedule? They should plan these sorts of things more carefully and prepare some buffer time for each interview. There was no rush for any of these guys, because the whole school was almost empty. All the classrooms were empty with massive amount of computers sitting still.

Well, my view of game design as a study subject in a university is pseudoscience. There is no scientific formulation of how to make a good game. Actually many legendary games are written, from a conceptual level, by people who did their own thing and tried new ideas, without any university specialization to the subject. There is no study which speculates the success of a certain idea or concept, or at least if there is, it seems to be a problem nowadays. Why is it important to have a university level degree to design a game? To know what works and what does not? Isnt this common sense? All you need to do is to play a lot of video-games, analyze what did you like and didnt. To have a course to talk with some university level jargon about what works and doesnt, is just a waste of time and resources for everybody, school and students. I have never heard of a successful game, which is formulated by specialized personnel from a masters degree of game design, which would have made an imprint to the industry. If there is, i wouldnt want to heard about it, because it is done by run in the mill opportunistic excel corporate climbers just to make quick cash. Game design is a calling and only those can do interesting concepts and executions, who actually play a lot of video-games and have deep knowledge of actual experience from start to finish of a game. There is just no way around it. Nobody can teach what specific games are all about and how innovate ideas further. If you do have a great concept, the least thing you want to do is give it to a corporation or an institute, so they can take credit from it.

How did this show in the Interview of Aalto University? During the whole interview, we never discussed anything about what makes a good game. Not a single peep about great game design, or anything about existing games.I had a playable demo of a game, which we made in a group of people, and when I showed it to the interviewing board, we never talked about it. Actually, a couple of these guys looked like they did not understand what they were seeing, like this was the first time they ever saw actual gameplay footage, and our game was just a humble shooter in third person. They had no interest whatsoever in the subject. The central topic circulated on how the student is able to dedicate his time to the school. I understand that u have a commitment to the subject, but it is too much to ask to serve the purpose of a school. Schools serve people. The idea is to cultivate a students abilities to innovate and make something in his life. Not the other way, where school objects a student as a pawn to promote a school. The irony here is that the game design degree did not know what they were talking about on the basis of the interview. Since we are dealing with pseudoscience, there is no way that there is a point at all that the whole line of study exists, or maybe it has a purpose for climbing a corporate ladder, when everybody expects you to have no uniqueness.

There is a proof. Two guys who I met briefly at somewhere in the association of the Arts Academy of Turku, who actually got into game design in Aalto at the same time of qualification process. One guy was this hot shot from the USA, who loved to hear his own voice. He had to force his notion onto everything that people did and he had to express himself constantly. It does not fit in a room full of Finnish people. It is cool to have a passion for the subject, but there is also reticence and discretion to form a great person and consider other people. The most awkward thing was these constant notions to his wife, which was embarrassing and made people sick. It is a funny joke at one time, after that it is worn out.

The other guy was a senior alumni from my line of study in bachelors. He was this hip guy, who did not care about other people at all, and this immature attitude all the time. One time he was teaching some nonsense and we had a field trip somewhere. Map was on the canvas pointing to the location and I asked where the location was. He and a couple fellow students laughed and this alumni said that the location is on the map. Well, their laugh ceased when I said I cannot see to the other side of the room, obviously because I am myopic. Well atleast i tasted a little bit of embarrassment from their faces, but later I did not have any respect for this guy and tried to avoid him as much as possible. The delicious part was that his graduation work, which is supposed to show talent and skills, was so embarrassingly bad that I have ever seen such bad student work. It was a Flash animation, with some noisy music typically for a person in puberty, and the whole animation was trashley done. The narrative had no point and the whole execution yells how the maker ever got this far, now looking back how on earth he ever got to the game design masters. Answer is quite obvious from both of these cases: You can talk your way around anything nowadays, without skills or talent. You just need to say the right words. That bothers me the most. Watch JoeyBToonz in Youtube, if you wanna know what i mean.

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