Throwing the Hat in for PAX

Filling out the application for speaking at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) on Higher Education in video games. Since the Boing Boing interview, I’ve had a strong desire to start a substantive debate of the roll of academics with the video games industry.

What sparked my desire to do this lecture came from a conversation I had while standing outside a GDC party for Steam/Valve. While talking to a man whom had at least 15 years in the industry, he really brought to light the disconnect between academia and the industry. We got on the education subject and snapped back by saying he preferred students from DigiPen and Fullsail because they do what they are told. I have a much different take on the situation as I consider students from these and other schools with much more respect than he did. I want to make sure there are enough students out there to prove me right and him completely wrong.

Here’s the text I used in applying for the PAX lecture. Obviously not set in stone, but I’d love your feedback as I start shaping this lecture in the next few months.

Making a Career in Video Games

One-Paragraph Description:
Are you looking for a job with a game studio, or a career in interactive media? Learn how to identify the styles in game development curricula and the tools to help you find the best education for more than a job, but a lifetime’s work in the gaming industry.

Is there anything else you think we [PAX staff] should know?
This lecture will provide tools and perspective for finding the right curriculum for the student. This entails a two part approach. First, a student needs to start figuring out what direction he or she wants to take. The second part is knowing what information to extract from potential institutions. From this foundation, attendants can make solid decisions on which schools are applicable to their educational goals. Potential undergraduate, graduate, and transfer students will all find this lecture helpful.

I include my credentials to represent my own personal expertise, but it does not illustrate endorsement by any current or former employers.

Credentials of Highlight:
* First recipient of a Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media at Emerson College.
Created the first BFA New Media curriculum at Emerson College, Boston.
* Emerson College, Enrollment & Student Affairs
Created tools and content related to admissions and enrollment for duties related to being an admission counselor.

For more information about me, visit

IP Rights in Academics

This week, Gamasutra sparked up the debate of IP rights with students in interactive media programs. The article “Controversy In The Classroom: Whose IP Is It Anyway?” starts the debate, but as you can see from the comments there is much more that needs to be discussed. In the Gamasutra article, the statement from the president and co-founder of DigiPen in Washington, Claude Comair:

“We are not here to compete with the games industry,” he says. “We are not here for people to come and make a game in a less-expensive manner utilizing equipment and software that has student licenses.”

“Just as importantly, we are not equipped to properly firewall our projects in the sense that we really don’t know legally speaking how many or which students created which games. We don’t know whether they received input from other students who have not been credited.”

This statement really rubbed me the wrong way on a few levels. The academic institution is skipping an extremely teachable moment by not incorporating IP rights and attribution of work. Will mistakes be made? Very much so. This is an educational institution and mistakes are part of the learning process. Avoiding the issue doesn’t make the issue go away, only defred for the student post-graduation. I can’t see how a student can be prepared to work in a field of intellectual property without understanding the basic law and practice of IP.

The counterpoint is the position is schools should teach the use and practice of tools and the IP should be left for law students. While I’m not claiming that each student should be prepared for entering a pre-law program, IP practice is the core integral part of being a professional artist. You don’t have to fully agree with the practices, but knowing the basics of how business is conducted seperates the professionals from the hobbyists. By denying students how to run the business, DigiPen seems limit student’s ability to become involved with being their own independent participants of this art form. The DigiPen curriculum seems to make worker bees for the game industry, rather than practicianers of interactive entertainment.

Continue reading IP Rights in Academics