A Career in Video Games – Computerphile

A Career in Video Games – Computerphile

I’ve always been a games player
that’s been my passion, and I always wanted to turn my hobby of playing games into the business of making them and
Way back in the 1970s. I started a games company called Games Workshop with a school friend of Mine Steve Jackson
And we moved out selling games that was mail-order launched dungeons & Dragons we then took?
role-playing games to wider audience by creating series of interactive books called fighting fantasy
Books in which you were the hero killing monsters again and finding treasure making a game experience of a book
Confronted by fire-breathing gorgons you can look in your pack for something to offer them 20 papes
36 or [turn] [to] page 90 draw your sword and fight them one of those books is called Death trap Dungeon and
I was contacted by a
Startup video game company called Omar asked me to write [story] [board] and design for their launch game Eureka
Eureka is great fun because I’ve been playing computer games
But didn’t anything about how to amaze I to work with a team [of] programmers an artists
and making Eureka and saying there’s a completely different skill set and especially one was a
Ethereal process with millions of lines of code and I couldn’t go still can’t code
science for someone of my age to start earning now
joined Omar
I’m selling out of games Workshop [and] dome art metamorphose into [idose]
And [I] became Chairman of the new entity which was floated on the London stock exchange
And then we acquired a studio it was developing [tomb] [Raider] and launched [-] made it so this
whole boom in the console cycle I was
Very much part of and very much enjoyed and realize what an amazing talent this industry is
huge teams of artists and programmers and artificial intelligence programs 3D programmers to D programmers or the art and animation and
storyboarding and narrative and camera and lighting and
You know physics and maths and [the] [compassion] combination of art and science that goes into
making games like making Interactive Cinema is
It’s it’s just
extraordinary the skills required to do that [and] is during this process of
Developing games that I realized that
This simply weren’t enough
programmers [of] the high enough caliber in the uk to support an industry in
Which we got off to such a flying start in the 80s now
[this] was down to programme have been taught in schools [the] BBC micro was a cornerstone of computing in schools
so [it’s] not much to look at but the beauty of it is you can get into programming for easily doing this and in the
home everyone had a spec [18] affordable programmable computer
which cost not very much and so we’re [after] a wonderful start the early days in the uk of games such as
Manic miner and populist and then we went through the tomb [raids] and grand theft auto’s are more recently Moshi Monsters and
And Runescape and other great successes
but it could have been so much more I
Was asked to chair skill sets video game skills [counsel] looked at all the universities which had games
in their title and found that for most part
They were not fit for purpose they offered soft skills
in the culture of games
the Role of
games in Society and a little bit of our design
But they weren’t teaching what we need which was the hard skills necessary to make the games you know computer science
coding on animation and
They were doing students a great disservice because they thought they’re going to come out these courses and immediately get jobs. They weren’t
Because we effectively happened to be retrained and of the 144 cases that were listed
Skill [set] only accredited ten of them as being fit [for] purpose
So I
talked at Length to Advisee
the culture Minister here in the uk
About this problem, and he invited me and Alex [hail] from double- to write a review about the situation [that] review was called Next-gen
In a digital age schools and universities are failing the creative industry
Next [gem] was a review with the main recommendation to have [cuda] science on the on the school’s [national] [Curriculum] was essential discipline
plus [nineteen] other recommendations for government industry and
education and
Whilst it got you know received well within our industries, it didn’t really make national headlines
Eric Schmidt’s Chairman of Google Reference next gen and his [met] [taggart] lecture
I was flabbergasted to learn that today computer science is not even taught as standard in uk schools
Now your it care curriculum by the way focuses on teaching. How do you software, but it doesn’t teach people how it’s made
This risks throwing away your great computing heritage
And of course if Eric said it must be true and a month later the prime minister echoed his words in his speech at
Tech City and
We were suddenly invited in to discuss
computer science
and Next-gen had highlighted
not just the probably need Averse t’s but the cause that led to
the Lack of computer science being taught
in higher education in further education
That being the Ict is currently taught was largely a strange hybrid of office skills kids were learning
at school word Powerpoint and excel they’re using it learning [how] [to]
Use technology what were given no insight how to create their own technology
We were in effect teaching them how to read but not how to write we were making digital consumers
But not digital creators now the uk happens to be pretty good at creativity look at our film or fashion or music
Our design our advertising
And of course our games, and we’re very good at high-technology
Yet against all odds. We’ve managed [to] put kids off learning about how to create technology
despite them running their lives through through [smartphones] and social Media and
By the way, we taught Ict at school
So we need to excite them to understand them to understand how to create technology because as soon as you get kids coding
Just amazing the response you get for them. They’ve created something they want to share something you feel really
special that that’s your game being played by different people [I]
would like to make games for people to buy them all over the world and so coding is at the heart of
The world in which they’re going to exist they need to be taught skills for jobs that don’t even exist today
But what I don’t want it to be
It’s just another dry fourth science what they should be doing is
Having coursework assessed. Have their code assessed working cooperatively
bringing Academia
the school environment closer to the work environment something that’s relevant and in context fun and
Something they’ve through peer to peer learning there’s so many creative ways of learning together in school that teachers shouldn’t be afraid
to have children teach them effectively they can be facilitators using the best online resources where it’s code academy Khan
Academy or the informal clubs over here like young rewires tked and [ko] club. There’s amazing facilities to get kids excited
Games are a perfect [example] of a collaboration of two
skills art
and science and it’s not just about
Architecture you need the visual aesthetic so [a] building looks beautiful
But you also need the mathematics to make sure it doesn’t fall down and kill you
so if you look around the whole world where it’s designing a car or
a plane or
a smartphone device
[it’s] that fusion of art and science. It’s the steam agenda. It’s not the stem agenda
So science technology engineering a mass of course essential, but you have to have art as part of that or a deep understanding
So that people can [collaborate]
Computational thinking problem-solving games based learning is going to be all part of having somebody has a more
Deeper understanding of the problems that they need to solve in their real worlds
For me an exam
Should if at all should not be this memory test yeah question one
For a computer science exam should not be who invented will [word] web frankly I couldn’t care less
I can google that and find out that in a second. It’s where they can write some code
Show me your code and I can give you a job
Wonderful people and all that I understand all that then we need them desperately
but not everyone’s going to be an [academic] you have to so for me the
The place where children learn has to be brought closer to the place where they’re going [to] work so collaboration
As Ken [Robin] says it’s not cheating. It’s how the real world works, [so] [let] them learn together let them work together
Don’t judge them in isolation because we are all different [so] it’s about working together with our own words
It’s just is actually in going into the computer games industry eventually

100 thoughts on “A Career in Video Games – Computerphile”

  1. I feel like architecture is even more vocational than programming. It is like learning about the nuts and bolts of bridge building instead of the physics.

  2. It turns out that my high school USED to do that, but they stopped since they only had 2 people interested per year.

  3. I support you on the importance of computer science, but you must understand that there is an opportunity cost in class time, given the amount of time in school, teaching more computer science theory means teaching less other subject such as Biology and Physics, although I am a computer science student, I will have to admit that knowing evolution and why the earth orbit around the sun is more important to one person if these are going to be all they will learn, some people may not go to uni.

  4. "Show me your code, and I will give you a job." I don't think so. Here in Germany I get the impression, that all companies only want to manage softwareprojects. They want the coding to be done by someone else. And I can't get that into my head why all leading companies do not care about building up their knowlegebase.

  5. I know exactly what you guys mean about the courses not being fit for purpose. My own wasn't even the "soft skills" described, but soft skills in engaging with academia rather than our target industries. (Semiotics in narrative, in art etc.)
    The end result was that when I took the initiative and spent time teaching myself the hard skills my marks on the course ironically suffered. Many people finished my course without them. I gave tips but teaching was the tutor's job not mine in the end.

  6. I agree, a problem a lot of people have when learning to code when they're older (like I did) is figuring out the context behind reading it. Kids are much better at learning that sort of stuff, I had an amstrad CPC and was copying code from a manual when I was about 5 or 6, and really lament the lack of instruction from anyone before I reached university.

  7. As a student of computer science at the 7th highest (or 9th, depending on who you ask) ranked school in the nation, I think I can reply to some of what you've said.
    Information theory has a far greater scope and complex subject matter than programming. If you were trying to interest someone in programming, would you teach them "hello world", where they can code hands-on and immediately see the results? Or would you give them a lecture on NP-completeness? See reply part two…

  8. You have to understand that schools are simply trying to interest kids in programming, not much more. Not only is the theoretical aspect of Computer Science less "fun", but it is essentially unnecessary for the average programmer. While it would certainly be interesting to be taught that material, most students (speaking from experience here) are copy-pasting from online and each other, and still barely passing the class. Sorry, see reply part three…

  9. If you want to get an idea of their skill level, take a look at codingbat(.)com. See the array-1 problems in java? Those go way over the head of most of my classmates. In AP-CS. The highest-level CS course in my school. I'm sorry, but if classes taught what your suggesting, even at the most basic level, I think most would fail. Finally, when you say literature class demands more than reading and writing, you're assuming too much. You can't take literature until you know your ABC's.

  10. Dear Mr Livingstone,

    My deepest thanks for writing my first Role-Playing Game. Warlock of Firetop Mountain paved my way as an 8 year old for D&D, Pathfinder and WoD.

    Sincerely, a Grateful Gamer

  11. The thing is, learning programming actually teaches you HOW to think and solve problems. Which is an incredibly important skill to use in all other areas.

  12. Even though I work as a developer in one of the largest game manufacturing companies in the world I don't play games. I hate them. I wrote the first lines of code when I was 8 on a 33mhz i486 and i loved doing it. What worries me are the words at 6:50: "I would like to make games for people to buy". Programming eventually became my source of income but I still work on open source projects for free. I mean money should not be the driving force not just behind programming, but education in general

  13. Forgive me for saying so, but you sound quite young and naive.
    The truth is there's absolutely nothing wrong with being motivated by money and success, nor are those things mutually exclusive to creative expression.
    Your talk about money being dirty and the ideal of not profiting greatly from your work betray a rather simple black-and-white mindset.
    By what measure would you consider profitable games "not good for the player?" You're going to get a major culture shock in the industry.

  14. Not to keep picking on you and sound even more cynical, but you could spend fifty years learning the mechanics of game design with pen and paper; it's not going to prepare you for a job in the industry, at all. Virtually anyone can come up with cool ideas and design solid games on paper. What Mr. Livingstone (and some in the comments) said was that there's too much of that sort of thing and too little education about the skills needed to actually turn a good idea into a shippable product.

  15. Plenty of companies are guilty of attempting that (I worked at one of them), but they tend not to sell very many copies of their games, and they aren't doing anything to hold back the creativity of other studios or destroying their incentives to innovate.
    Larger companies making life difficult for smaller startups is just competition, it happens in every industry. And the bar has been raised so high that by definition it's difficult to make *any* successful game with a small budget.

  16. That all sounds like good stuff. I would just stress that if you're going down the design / programming path that computer science is going to be the most important thing to concentrate on. I learned more about design after I got into the industry than before – that stuff is different at every company so you just have to learn it as you go.

  17. What dirty practices do Ubisoft or Warner Bros. use to screw smaller startups? I geniuinely hadn't heard anything like that.
    Rovio hit the lottery with Angry Birds; there are dozens of indy devs coming and going all the time who will fold before they meet with any success. I think we're going a bit off-topic, but check out a post-mortem for Empires of Steel by Atomicboy Software for a more typical (in my experience) result in indy development.

  18. I remember when I was 16 and told a good friend of mine that I've always wanted to program or design. He basically threw me into C++ and from time to time I'd get help. The main response I'd get would be, figure it out. I'd be stuck there for hours on end trying to figure things out. Basically it's learning a new and complex language. Nothing like learning your first four loop or switch statements. cout " programming is interesting" endl;

  19. They completely are. I was a student that learned Quick Basic in grade school and C++ in high school. I am extremely grateful I had good computer science teachers and a school that understood the importance of it all.

  20. Because most of the people don't need those skills. Most are "just" users. While I agree that logical thinking and solution finding mechanisms are useful for everyone, I think if you don't plan on working in some computer science affiliated profession you won't need a programming language or the understanding of how they work.

  21. I hated my IT education in school, I took it as a further option expecting to learn to program and it turned out to be a course in Microsoft Office.

  22. The problem with a computer science curriculum, I know, is that it will end up just teaching students VB6, or, if they are lucky, how to make a Python script. Plus, any curriculum will skip very important fundamentals like different useful data structures, text input parsing, algorithmic complexity, etc.

  23. and then you fired your teacher and hired a better one right? o wait never mind you cant do that. hm maybe that has something to do with why they are such failures =D

  24. You may think that now, so do I. However if I think back now when I was in secondary school I struggled with quadratic equations.
    Yes, logic gates, computer architechtures, x86 ASM and its concepts might seem quite simple right now. But I am pretty sure when I was in school my mind would have melted if I was trying to learn that.
    Although I do agree, we should AT LEAST teach children computer science at a basic level in schools.

  25. Skillset (the standard talked about) was a good idea(as some universities offer programming courses that don't even really result in programmers) but it didn't necessarily fit each institution. I am lead to believe there was a requirement that the curriculum didn't change for a number of years. To what degree and what other 'rules' were there I am unsure. It still doesn't stop people getting hired with degrees from other universities.

  26. Yeah, but i don't need to know how a brush is made or how a certain colour is produced to understand basic ideas of painting. And i certainly do not need to know how to write Java or C++ to decide if i should buy an iPhone or an Android Smartphone. "How this stuff works" is very generic. To have a basic idea what components a computer needs and what factors determine quality is useful for almost everybody, but to know the differences between architectures or how a cpu really works is not needed.

  27. The benefit of not aquiring every skill there is, is that you can improve the skills you actually need. Do you know how your stereo actually works? Do you know how your car radio works? Your TV? Your fridge? And do you need any of that knowledge/skill? No. You just need to use it. Period. I rather know the things i need well than knowing everything a little bit.

  28. I agree exams are not ideal, but I don't think individual 'tailored' assessments is practical or the best way to produce clear bands of ability. That's what exams are for, not merely a formal means of testing someone's knowledge but also making candidates comparable to each other such that their ability/knowledge can be compared to others claiming to own the same.

  29. Knowledge is available by the truck loads in the world today, exams are like trying to filter out those who could remember our knowledge the best, in the past this might have been appropriate but now-a-days i think it's more important to filter out those who can find the most relevant information, show the methods used to filter through our vast knowledge (problem solving), those who can remember all the answers to an exam will be performing it as a trick at parties in the future..

  30. Assuming kids would all love programming and pick it up is very narrow sighted. If a kid wants to do this, they'll do it regardless. If your thing is technology, you'll do it on your own.

  31. What I think is the hardest is not the different syntaxes or methods to loop over things etc, but OOP. The syntax for the most languages are quite similar.
    Classes, methods, class members, all that are just a mess in the beginning. You just can get it, it's too much. I sat like for hours several days reading, writing own code and test it before I somehow understood it.
    If you want to learn how to program, be prepared for long nights!

  32. as a recent graduate i have noticed there are plenty of job listings for programmers already experienced in the games industry but zero graduate jobs, here's the kicker: the non-graduate jobs also demand games industry specific experience, so if you spend a couple of years coding firmware or writing CAD software, it counts for nothing!

  33. I agree with everything he said about education, and it applies much more broadly than just games. Our schools take learning, the most exiting and rewarding exploration a human being can undertake, and turn it into a dull boring monotonous chore. The job of an educator is to help people's minds develop, not to cram them full of facts and figures that will get them through an arbitrary examination; that's lazy and immoral. Teachers should rebel against this form of teaching, I know they hate it.

  34. Programming is the most important skill I've learn in school, second being math.. third language. It's important to me because it involves logic and logic is important because everything is logical if you look at it in the right light. Tests, papers, math, science or why your toast is burnt even though the batch before it wasn't. Taking the words from my teacher, everyone would benefit from a programming class because then they would begin to think logically or at least learn to self teach.

  35. To clarify that, from my programming class I basically learned that if I want to know how to solve a problem I google it and figure out how it works. There's no other tool I need. The reason we still need school is that it gives us a place to start and I really miss having home work because I have no problem to really work on.

  36. I recently found rosettacode site, they have lots of problems solved in many different languages. I like taking one of those problems and try to solve it myself without looking at the solutions on the site. Sometimes there are problems that doesn't have solutions in a certain language. I do that sometime on my spare time.

  37. I'm in the uk, and currently studying a gcse in computing. I'm 15 and that involves 60% theory about things such as computer networks, processors ,operating systems and how computers in general work. 40% of the course is programming course work in visual basic, however my teacher does not know how to code do we essentially just learn from textbooks and google

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  39. OOP can be a truly beautiful thing. I honestly didn't fully grasp it till midway through my first year in Computer Science (which followed years of self teaching). Once it finally clicks and you're able to use the paradigm to its fullest it makes coding a much more intuitive thing.

  40. this video made me happy.. i just joined Computer Science College and i wasn't really happy about it :3 .. but now i believe in my choice u.u

  41. Feel exactly the same way, I knew about OOP the definition of it but it was until quite later that I properly understood it and could implement it effectively, One day it just made sense.

  42. "my teacher does not know how to code" is both good and bad. The teacher is showing you a method that is the most valuable to you in this day and age. The ability to know how to take advantage of the resources available to you, and how to get results on your own initiative. Whether you read books, search the internet, or simply write snippets of code to understand why it is, or isn't working (trial and error) is common practice. VB.NET is really easy to understand and a good place to start. 😉

  43. The concept of focusing on teaching code and programming at secondary school level is something being put together by Ian Livingstone. A school that addresses the shortfall in skills and experience in games design/computing science/creativity in this country is to be established near the site of the original Games Workshop in Hammersmith. Find out more at online at dubyadubyadubyadotlivingstoneacademyhammersmithdot codotuk

  44. My teacher is more or less doing the same as his, the only difference is that he is teaching us Java. Now there are 3 problems:
    1. I think that Java is very difficult in comparison to VB.NET or C#, so it's hard to teach.
    2. My teacher doesn't understand the language himself (like not understanding basic concepts, eg public/private or inheritance).
    3. He doesn't know the terminology and marks them wrong although they are correct, thus making OOP even more difficult to grasp.

  45. I have to say its just a shame that children aren't thought in schools… Programming skills are almost as useful as math to learning how to solve engineering problems. And it's completely different from how mathematics solves problem.

  46. "..we teach them to read, but not how to write.." perfectly on the point. How do you expect to create something new, if you can´t write?

  47. In my opinion, Java is a lot more verbose than C# and it might be because I got a nice framework and a tidy IDE, but at least my C#-Code seens to be less prone to e.g. spelling errors. (and Uppercase/Lowercase-Errors ^_^)

  48. I think it's very disappointing what they consider a "Computer Class", at least at the elementary and middle school I went to. Like this video said, they only taught how to USE software, not how it worked, why it worked, and how to do even very simple programming.

  49. I'm 17 and live in Scotland, and last year i did higher computing. It was frankly dreadful, several of the aspects of the course we were required to learn were nearly 10 years out of date, and yet worse we were taught to code in visual basic of all languages. it's a disaster of a course.

  50. I wish that there were classes in standard school curriculum that taught coding and stuff. I have to use things like Codecademy outside of school to really learn anything useful, although there are some other things available to me because I go to a charter school. And it really wouldn't be that difficult to teach a class like this, I think. Also if there was a class that talked about the kind of things on Computerphile, that would be great also. Maybe introduce scratch in late elementary/primary school, teach kids python, maybe basic HTML in middle school, and move on to more advanced topics in high school and university…
    By the way, I'm in 7th grade.

  51. Why do people have to use age as an excuse for not learning something new? Its just the laziest most stupid reasoning ever.

  52. His last thought, couldn't agree more. When interviewing candidates, i care far more for techniques, actual coding, understanding concepts than photographic memory. Dates and names are mostly useless (even in history these are useful for cross reference, not as an end in themselves). When interviewing, I think asking for an API reference is a good sign that the candidate is adaptable.

  53. The fighting fantasy books were ridiculously hard. Sometimes it was just bs where if you miss one thing earlier on you are dead no-matter what once you enter a certain room. Super fun though.

  54. i like the fact that i see more and more people saying what i've been thinking for quite some time now which is: get rid of the robot mindless learning and teach people actual skills that can be applied in the real world

  55. "Show me your code and I'll give you a job!" Fantastic line. Completely agree. Performance-based assessment. Great, great video!

  56. Schools are just starting to teach coding now .Some schools anyway.the UK has had some pretty good game developer houses .Remember rage software ,as one which was pretty good team

  57. how do i like this more then once. I remember high school senor year having pascal as my math class. great fun!!

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