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Poll: Does Gladwell's rule apply to game programming?


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Poll: Does Gladwell's rule apply to game programming? (25 member(s) have cast votes)

Gladwell's rule states that it takes around 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. Does this rule apply to game programming?

  1. Yes, 10,000 hours of practice seems about the right amount of time you need to spend to reach the level of an expert (18 votes [72.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 72.00%

  2. No, 10,000 hours of practice is not enough in order to reach the level of an expert (3 votes [12.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.00%

  3. No, you don't need to practice that long in order to become an expert (4 votes [16.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.00%

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#1 Dragonion   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 02:59 AM

Feel free to elaborate your answer.



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#2 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6045

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 03:06 AM

No, it states that it takes 10.000 hours to become an expert.

 

Becoming a pro doesn't take any time at all, nor is being a professional any indiciation of actual skill (It just means that you're doing something for a living). Many professionals are really quite bad at what they do. (This is especially true in fields with low competition),

 

Obviously being good at something makes it easier to become a professional but they are separate issues.

 

10.000 hours is a good amount of time to become very good at a very specific field of programming.


Edited by SimonForsman, 13 July 2013 - 03:09 AM.

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#3 Dragonion   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 03:14 AM

No, it states that it takes 10.000 hours to become an expert.

 

Becoming a pro doesn't take any time at all, nor is being a professional any indiciation of actual skill (It just means that you're doing something for a living). Many professionals are really quite bad at what they do. (This is especially true in fields with low competition),

 

Obviously being good at something makes it easier to become a professional but they are separate issues.

 

10.000 hours is a good amount of time to become very good at a very specific field of programming.

Fair enough, I just updated the question (although one could argue that there really is nothing stopping anyone from calling themselves an expert either)


Edited by Dragonion, 13 July 2013 - 03:39 AM.


#4 Haytil   Members   -  Reputation: 380

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 03:40 AM

My understanding of Gladwell's rule is that it more applies to "mastery," rather than "expertise."  That is, to master a field, it takes 10,000 hours - but being an expert is not nearly as accomplished a role, and thus does not require nearly as many hours.

 

Does game programming (or programming in general) require 10,000 hours for mastery?

I don't have 10,000 hours of experience with programming.  I do have considerably more than 1,000 - maybe something closer to 5,000 than 10,000.  I'd like to think of myself as an expert, at least in some sub-fields of programming, but I know there are many with even more expertise (my expertise tends to be broader, amongst an eclectic array of subjects, rather than deeper).

 

I don't think I'm a master - but I do think that if my experience doubled, extrapolating from my current position, I might well be able to fairly consider myself at master at that point.

 

So yes, I'd say programming is no different than other fields in that respect - something on the order of 10,000 hours is required for mastery (though that's an estimate - I feel that maybe 7500 or 8000 hours would be more accurate).



#5 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2458

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 05:10 AM

The number 10 000 probably comes from the fact that the amount of people with that much experience is about what we would expect the relative amount of experts to be compared to intermediates/beginners, and why that is so, probably has something to do with the average life time of people and how much time they spend with their "profession".

 

The number will probably be lower or higher if the time to gain some amount of knowledge in the absolute sense increases or decreases (or the amount of people entering the profession)

 

If a ton of n00bs suddendly entered the field, it would take less hours to reach the level of knowledge considered "expert", assuming it is measured relative to other people.


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#6 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2037

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 08:53 AM

10,000 man-hours is enough time for a person to build about 5 real games.

 

building 5 real games will teach you a lot, but the skill set for game development is a shifting target. even when you're working on your 20th title, there will always be new things to learn. At the very least we can always count on MS changing directx every couple years, so you'll never be a master! <g>.


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#7 Djfix   Members   -  Reputation: 237

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 08:58 AM

Could a game programmer ever achieve mastery? I guess that even if you work like 5 years in a domain (like the physics engine programmers for a modern FPS), how can you say that you are an expert in Game programming,when, for example you can't do the graphics part, or the structural organisation part? For me, everyone has room for improvement.

 

Let me give you one of Bjarne Stroustrup's quotes: "People who think they know everything really annoy those of us who know we don't". For me, the quote suggests that he acknowledges the fact that there is always room for improvement.

 

Meh, my opinion is pretty fixed, and i would never say that I am an expert even if at 60 years old i would have invented some awesome algorithm that produces pizza from my own programming language code. Especially if a teen comes to me with his own language that would give me soda with a while(1) loop. smile.png 



#8 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29414

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 09:31 AM

Yes, this applies to pretty much any skill. Another version of this rule that I've seen is 10 years of practice (~1000 hours a year I guess).

I prefer this version, because it's possible for someone to cram 10000 hours of practice into 3/4 years, but that person will still likely only be a beginner -- such as a university graduate about to enter their first job in a 'junior' role.

 

Every year that I've used C++ after the first year, I've felt like I was a C++ expert.

Every single year, I've looked back at my skills from 12 months prior, and realised I was in no way an expert (but still thinking that now I am...).

After about 12 years, this slowed down, and I started to feel ok with where my expertise was at a year prior, so I guess that was the beginnings of C++ mastery.

I've now been using C++ for about 15 years, and have still almost mastered it.

 

Looking back, at my younger selves with my current level of knowledge -- if I was interviewing them for a job, I probably wouldn't see them as being a "good C++ programmer" (something I'm now a tough critic on) until the version of me that's somewhere around the 10-11 years of practice mark ;)

 

That's just one aspect of programming though. I don't have the same level of mastery in gameplay programming, or special effects, or PHP, or SQL, or any of the other countless technologies and fields that a programmer will come into contact with ;)


Edited by Hodgman, 13 July 2013 - 09:37 AM.


#9 warnexus   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1406

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 11:09 AM

Possibly even more. Game programming always has new challenges to embrace.


Edited by warnexus, 13 July 2013 - 06:10 PM.


#10 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 6611

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 11:52 AM

It's true as much as anything Malcolm Gladwell says is true. Which is neither here nor there. 10,000 hours, what a conveniently round, easy to remember, catchy number. Almost as if it were pulled out of ass. But the basic sentiment is perfectly accurate.


Edited by Promit, 13 July 2013 - 11:53 AM.


#11 Khatharr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2960

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 04:57 PM

It's true as much as anything Malcolm Gladwell says is true. Which is neither here nor there. 10,000 hours, what a conveniently round, easy to remember, catchy number. Almost as if it were pulled out of ass. But the basic sentiment is perfectly accurate.

 

Ad-anum rather than ad-hoc?


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#12 Bacterius   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8507

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 08:20 PM

I only have 9855 hours of practice so far, dammit! sad.png


The slowsort algorithm is a perfect illustration of the multiply and surrender paradigm, which is perhaps the single most important paradigm in the development of reluctant algorithms. The basic multiply and surrender strategy consists in replacing the problem at hand by two or more subproblems, each slightly simpler than the original, and continue multiplying subproblems and subsubproblems recursively in this fashion as long as possible. At some point the subproblems will all become so simple that their solution can no longer be postponed, and we will have to surrender. Experience shows that, in most cases, by the time this point is reached the total work will be substantially higher than what could have been wasted by a more direct approach.

 

- Pessimal Algorithms and Simplexity Analysis


#13 Khatharr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2960

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Posted 13 July 2013 - 08:51 PM

I only have 9855 hours of practice so far, dammit! sad.png

 

Just be thankful that you don't live in an old Final Fantasy title.


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#14 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3338

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 02:41 PM

My opinion is that you can get to a level that is reasonably 'expert' in most things in under 2000 hours, IF you are the type of person who attempts to learn and constantly improve while working. Some people will just spend day after day making the same mistakes and 10000 hours won't fix that. There's only so much you can learn by osmosis, especially in a job like programming where you are less exposed to other people's methods and knowledge. But if you have the drive to try and really understand the problems underlying programming and the associated areas, your expertise can grow rapidly as you find and apply new approaches.



#15 Álvaro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12916

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 08:11 AM

My opinion is that you can get to a level that is reasonably 'expert' in most things in under 2000 hours, IF you are the type of person who attempts to learn and constantly improve while working. Some people will just spend day after day making the same mistakes and 10000 hours won't fix that. There's only so much you can learn by osmosis, especially in a job like programming where you are less exposed to other people's methods and knowledge. But if you have the drive to try and really understand the problems underlying programming and the associated areas, your expertise can grow rapidly as you find and apply new approaches.

 

Gladwell's 10,000 hours are of the type you describe: "Deliberate practice" is the way he describes it. Doing something for 10,000 without challenging yourself won't get you very far.



#16 Titan.   Members   -  Reputation: 159

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 10:41 AM

I think this time notion is biased because we talk about practice time, while we actually progress 10 time faster  (another completely random number) in directly learning things through reading and exercises: implement some advanced algorithms and build engines make you progress a lot while days spent on content (program every 50 possible spell of a character from the game design document for example) are essentially lost from a programming skills viewpoint.

 

I may be be between 3k and 5k and I almost consider me as an expert, even compared to some "senior programmer" I met (no doubt that when this time is double, I'll definitively be an export for long). The time it takes to become an expert really depend of what you did in this time, in my opinion.


Edited by Titan., 15 July 2013 - 10:44 AM.


#17 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20204

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 04:57 PM

One big problem: define "expert".

 

Without an exact number, I agree that it takes many years of effort to become expert in a single broad field of programming.  

 

 

Many trades follow a pattern of apprentice / journeyman / master.  

 

Looking up my state's licencing requirements for several trades (electrician, plumbing, carpentry, etc.) a Journeyman's License (which is required to start your own business in several trades) requires about 1000 hours of classroom instruction plus about 8000 hours (4 years) of professional experience as an apprentice under the supervision of a more experienced tradesman. To get the "Master" title (allowing you to train apprentice workers) requires another 4000 hours (two years) of work.

 

 

For programmers, I think it does take about 5 years (10,000 hours) of varied experiences before mastery is achieved.  Before that most people need a combination of tutoring, direct supervision, and other critical review of their work.  Even after that point there should be continuous cross-checking of their work (usually in the form of buddy checks) just as other fields have inspections and reviews even when the work is done by journeyman or master level craftsmen.


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