UPDATE: â??Devs must aid academia, not bitch about itâ??

UPDATE: â??Devs must aid academia, not bitch about itâ??

By Rob Crossley in Liverpool

December 16th 2009 at 12:00PM

Industry body calls on developers to help fuel the next generation

The following article was published Nov 5, which Develop has re-posted due to the ongoing discussion in the comments section below. 

In particular, one aspiring and academically-decorated programmer is struggling to get that first placement, and is seeking advice from you, dear developers.

A former brand manager of Sony Computer Entertainment has fired back at the many UK developers who openly criticise game courses at universities, stating that the games industry needs to help education rather than “sit around bitching about them”.

Enda Carey – now in a management role at trade group Northwest Vision and Media – made a fervent call for the unity between industry and academia during a panel discussion at the Develop in Liverpool conference.

“A lot of UK developers complain about universities about how they can’t keep pace with the industry and everything else,” said Carey.

“But actually, if we really want to start trying to change things, it’s the developers who have to change it. You know, don’t sit around bitching about them, actually get in there and try to fix it.

“I’m not saying developers should give up their game development jobs and become lecturers at universities, I’m saying developers should offer advice to academia.”

Carey observed that in recent years the UK game industry has distanced itself from universities. However, he said, it seems that it’s only the universities that get blamed for the detachment.

“Universities are crying out to be linked into industry,” he said. “Absolutely crying out to get developers in to do guest lecturing, crying out for developers to consult on how to make game courses better and more relevant. They’re absolutely desperate to have an industry stamp-of-approval, and yet we seem to have this huge stand-off between academia and industry.”

Carey was of the belief that one of the main reasons why academia has failed to keep up with the games industry – and provide relevant training for it – is that universities are notoriously slow in changing the syllabus.

“It takes about five years to change a course,” he said. “That’s a problem with universities, because they’re never going to keep pace with the game industry like this.” Carey believes that it is the industry itself that can help refine university courses.

“I think there’s also a role developers can play in schools,” he added. “Get in there and explain to students why maths and physics are important, show them that this football game requires a lot of maths and physics to kick a ball from A to B. Young students won’t realise this until someone goes in there and talks to them about it.”

The panel discussion in which Carey took part explored how North-British game Development areas can remain strong.

Northwest Vision and Media works on behalf of the digital and creative industries in the Northwest to grow a world- class digital and creative economy within the region.