Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
gameteacher

Should I buy a console if teaching this stuff?

This topic is 630 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

I am sure there are some of you who are going to jump on my back about this, with comments like "Of course you should!" or "How can you teach game design without playing games all the time?", but I will ask anyway.

 

I am well into the course I have been teaching on Game Design and I am considering buying a Play Station or Xbox because I keep reading references to certain games that I am becoming quite curious to know more about. I can avoid it in terms of teaching because of how my curriculum is designed. My main concern is that the sophisticated games today are so complicated. There is so much to learn and so many moving parts. I don't want something else taking up time in the afternoons after work, as my schedule is already busy. 

 

But if I decide to buy a console, here are my questions:

 

1. Which is better? By this I mean which has the more famous titles (i.e. Call of Duty, Halo, Uncharted, Max Payne, Heavy Rain, Zelda, Journey, etc.)?

2. Are there titles that are compatible with both consoles?

3. How much do most of these titles usually cost?

4. With all of this nonsense going on with things dematerializing in technology, am I wasting time with something that comes in the form of discs? Is there some annoying streaming service right around the corner that will render the PS and Xbox obsolete two minutes after I buy one?

5. Are play throughs on Youtube good enough to give me an idea of graphics, story and general scope of games?

 

I'm looking forward to reading your responses!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Game designers tend to play many games, yes. But more critically than playing games: they study the games.

Good game designers dig into the games to figure out what is fun. They ask questions, why did the game developer put this item there? How did they control access to keep the player from getting into trouble? Why is this fun? Or possibly more importantly, why isn't that fun?

The game designers I've worked with over the years tend to love used game stores. Get a used game, study it, return it within a week and get 100% in-store credit, get another used game, return it within a week, repeat over and over. Within the week they can study all they need to understand the core mechanics and new features, and if they love the game enough the costs to keep it longer aren't a big deal.



As you are a teacher, IIRC you were teaching in a public school setting, you should probably be aware of the iconic games at a minimum.

Playing the games gives you a more complete experience, but it often isn't necessary to play the entire game if all you are attempting to study is the specific mechanics.

Youtube viewing of the iconic elements won't give you the full experience of being a player and being emotionally involved in a great story, but it can give you enough to study the mechanics for yourself. We frequently refer to youtube clips to break apart what other games do for specific situations.


As for which console, many games are cross platform; generally if it was on PS2 it was generally also on XBox. If it was on PS3 it was generally also on XBox360. Today if it is on PS4 it is also generally on XBox One. Wii and Wii U tend to have fewer cross platform games since they have a different demographic and because the hardware has different processors and different performance characteristics than the other two major consoles.

However, some of the most iconic games are single platform, and all the major systems have their own iconic characters and iconic games.

You don't need to purchase them nor do you need to play them, but for a deeper understanding you do need to study them. Fortunately used systems are relatively cheap and you can often study core mechanics over a few hours rather than the hundreds of hours many people play each game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Game designers tend to play many games, yes. But more critically than playing games: they study the games.

Good game designers dig into the games to figure out what is fun. They ask questions, why did the game developer put this item there? How did they control access to keep the player from getting into trouble? Why is this fun? Or possibly more importantly, why isn't that fun?

The game designers I've worked with over the years tend to love used game stores. Get a used game, study it, return it within a week and get 100% in-store credit, get another used game, return it within a week, repeat over and over. Within the week they can study all they need to understand the core mechanics and new features, and if they love the game enough the costs to keep it longer aren't a big deal.



As you are a teacher, IIRC you were teaching in a public school setting, you should probably be aware of the iconic games at a minimum.

Playing the games gives you a more complete experience, but it often isn't necessary to play the entire game if all you are attempting to study is the specific mechanics.

Youtube viewing of the iconic elements won't give you the full experience of being a player and being emotionally involved in a great story, but it can give you enough to study the mechanics for yourself. We frequently refer to youtube clips to break apart what other games do for specific situations.


As for which console, many games are cross platform; generally if it was on PS2 it was generally also on XBox. If it was on PS3 it was generally also on XBox360. Today if it is on PS4 it is also generally on XBox One. Wii and Wii U tend to have fewer cross platform games since they have a different demographic and because the hardware has different processors and different performance characteristics than the other two major consoles.

However, some of the most iconic games are single platform, and all the major systems have their own iconic characters and iconic games.

You don't need to purchase them nor do you need to play them, but for a deeper understanding you do need to study them. Fortunately used systems are relatively cheap and you can often study core mechanics over a few hours rather than the hundreds of hours many people play each game.

Good advice. But what store lets you keep returning games over and over? I know you can rent them from Redbox too, right? Also there was the question I had about cds becoming obsolete.

I like what you said about studying games in a few hours. I can never believe how anyone could play games for hundreds of hours!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Stores like GameStop have that policy, and the staff typically doesn't care at all. You've got a return with a receipt within 7 days, check it in, get a replacement, transaction complete.

Really, if they know you are a game teacher they may even help you out somehow. In the unlikely event that one store gives you grief over it, there is another a few blocks away with completely different minimum-wage staff.

As for disc technologies becoming outdated with new systems, that's not an issue. You mention CDs, but those stopped over a decade ago over DVDs. BluRay these days. The issue with streaming (as far as this concept goes) is that returns and used game sales don't work well for streamed games. Physical discs are easily returned with a receipt, especially at used game stores where they sell you used open boxes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am well into the course I have been teaching on Game Design [.....] My main concern is that the sophisticated games today are so complicated.

 

I'm intrigued as to how your course can be useful if you haven't (up until now) been able to make the case that what you teach relates to the games people will design today.

 

I would argue that you don't really need a console as almost every game is available on PC. But you do need to be playing them, if only to be able to see the parallels with the simpler games that you use for teaching.

 

I can never believe how anyone could play games for hundreds of hours!

 

That's a bit sad, because you don't seem to respect the medium that you have somehow ended up having to teach about. Please try and appreciate why people might spend hundreds of hours on this, the same way that people spend hundreds of hours on television or books.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm intrigued as to how your course can be useful if you haven't (up until now) been able to make the case that what you teach relates to the games people will design today.   I would argue that you don't really need a console as almost every game is available on PC. But you do need to be playing them, if only to be able to see the parallels with the simpler games that you use for teaching.
 

 

If you dig up the old thread, the story behind this is that the person's an art teacher who wants to teach social values despite not caring in the slightest about games, and is really looking for an art/social values job, but this was the only one available.

 

That being said, the questions asked in the first post are something I'd expect a time-traveler from the past to ask, and would be solved by typing any game name in google (namely price), so I'm going to assume this is thread's a lie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

4. With all of this nonsense going on with things dematerializing in technology, am I wasting time with something that comes in the form of discs? Is there some annoying streaming service right around the corner that will render the PS and Xbox obsolete two minutes after I buy one?

 

Sony just launched a stream-Playstation-to-PC subscription service with a lot of PS games from the last generation; it sounds like just what you need.  https://www.playstation.com/en-us/explore/psnow/games/

 

From these, I suggest for you: Journey, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, Thomas Was Alone, The Swapper, Machinarium.  These aren't necessarily the games your students are playing, but task #1 for you is to find games that you might enjoy, so that you start to understand what your students are feeling.  Game design is partly an empirical process in which you discover how your audience reacts, and partly introspection about how you the designer react.

 

(Obsoletion: Generally speaking, the console business is built on the idea that there's a predictable period in which they won't go obsolete; the lifespan of a console is maybe 5-10 years.  That's its value proposition over PC gaming, in which there's no expectation that next year's games will run on this year's hardware.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do appreciate that teachers often end up having to teach subjects that are not their main choice, and that they work very long hours that don't leave much time for outside study. But I would hope that they will at least make an effort to try and appreciate the discipline they are covering, and understand why people care about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And with this thread and the other comments, that is exactly what I believe is happening.

 

I recall back to my own school days, we had a group of us who took AP Computer Science our junior year and wanted another course beyond pascal.  After much begging with the administration and the AP CS teacher -- who was a math instructor that was originally given the AP CS course reluctantly -- they agreed that if we could get 8 students together who would absolutely commit to the course as an elective, they'd find a way to make it work.  

 

Our teacher was often frustrated by CS topics, but he did an adequate job teaching us C++.  He allowed the more advanced students -- the few of us who were the core who already knew the semantics of the language but not the CS topics on algorithms and data structures, to build projects as advanced as we wanted, as long as we shared with him the CS-side of how things worked. As these were the days before the Intarwebz, much of it was finding information on the limited newsgroups we had access to and finding stuff on Archie/Veronica, and from the few CS departments with publicly viewable ftp sites hunting for gems.

 

 

Both from this and the previous thread, I get the impression gameteacher is in a somewhat similar situation.  He (assuming it is a male due to English grammar, if female then 'she') is an educator first, and since there is nobody else willing/able to teach the topic, he's taking it on himself to educate the kids as best he can.  

 

I love that attitude, and while sometimes there has been disagreement over course scope and discussion topics, I'm THRILLED he is spending the extra time trying to do the best he can for the students who are interested in my vocational field.

 

 

So gameteacher, while there are many people who rack up extended hours on games, including me, nobody expects that for the level you're teaching.  While I personally may rack up 100+ hours over the course of several weeks playing a game I absolutely love, it is not necessary for the role you've got, you can play enough of the game to try it out, study it, get comfortable, and be able to talk with enough authority that your students will understand you, if not respect you, for it.

 

 

Also now that I think about it, if you've got a game store that has lots of dead time you might talk about your situation and convince the manager to let you play the games there at the store, and maybe occasionally have employees talk about the games with you and the mechanics they like.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And with this thread and the other comments, that is exactly what I believe is happening.

 

I recall back to my own school days, we had a group of us who took AP Computer Science our junior year and wanted another course beyond pascal.  After much begging with the administration and the AP CS teacher -- who was a math instructor that was originally given the AP CS course reluctantly -- they agreed that if we could get 8 students together who would absolutely commit to the course as an elective, they'd find a way to make it work.  

 

Our teacher was often frustrated by CS topics, but he did an adequate job teaching us C++.  He allowed the more advanced students -- the few of us who were the core who already knew the semantics of the language but not the CS topics on algorithms and data structures, to build projects as advanced as we wanted, as long as we shared with him the CS-side of how things worked. As these were the days before the Intarwebz, much of it was finding information on the limited newsgroups we had access to and finding stuff on Archie/Veronica, and from the few CS departments with publicly viewable ftp sites hunting for gems.

 

 

Both from this and the previous thread, I get the impression gameteacher is in a somewhat similar situation.  He (assuming it is a male due to English grammar, if female then 'she') is an educator first, and since there is nobody else willing/able to teach the topic, he's taking it on himself to educate the kids as best he can.  

 

I love that attitude, and while sometimes there has been disagreement over course scope and discussion topics, I'm THRILLED he is spending the extra time trying to do the best he can for the students who are interested in my vocational field.

 

 

So gameteacher, while there are many people who rack up extended hours on games, including me, nobody expects that for the level you're teaching.  While I personally may rack up 100+ hours over the course of several weeks playing a game I absolutely love, it is not necessary for the role you've got, you can play enough of the game to try it out, study it, get comfortable, and be able to talk with enough authority that your students will understand you, if not respect you, for it.

 

 

Also now that I think about it, if you've got a game store that has lots of dead time you might talk about your situation and convince the manager to let you play the games there at the store, and maybe occasionally have employees talk about the games with you and the mechanics they like.

Thank you for your appreciation!

 

What is happening is that since people on this site are developers, etc. and not educators, they see things from a limited perspective. This is most obvious in the complaints about how I shouldn't be teaching this stuff if I am not a gamer, or how I would not be doing the subject justice, and other views that are actually senseless and irrelevant, as any educator can explain and as I have proven thus far by having a very successful course. Yes, I am an art teacher first, which means that my perspective is unique. Rather than being a computer science person, who is teaching vocationally on coding and the technical aspects of computers and video games, I am coming to all this from the standpoint of a) design and b) visual culture. For (a) my art background provides me with an acuity regarding the aesthetics of video games that most people (including gamers) wouldn't understand, for example the influence of art history and other modes of representation on game imagery. For (b) I am coming to video games as simply another form of visual culture, and bringing a lot of experience in that field to bear on video games, as opposed to say, advertising. These are things that game people don't study.

 

Getting back to my original question, I don't really need to know anything more about video games than I do to teach the class because of the design of my curriculum and because I have plenty of experience from my childhood. And it's not like I've been living in a cave! I am actually interested in studying the hip new games because I am reading so much theory (more than most gamers I'm sure) about the aesthetics of games and I am now curious to actually experience them. Also, as I am working with people in the game industry to facilitate some of the activities for my course, I want to be knowledgeable on a basic level with what they are working with every day.

 

And the whole angle that students are getting cheated out of a good learning experience because I don't know coding and I am not passionate about games is also irrelevant as I am not teaching college, where students actually sign up for classes they want to take and have ambitions in learning the subject matter. High school teaching on this stuff is very basic, and anything a student gets is good, as most students don't even have the opportunity at most schools.

 

I would never play hundreds of hours of games as that would be a complete waste of time, and could never compare to reading or doing constructive things in the real world. I know that's not a popular opinion with you all, since you are a specialized community who is in love with games, but it is where I am coming from.

 

So I get that Game Stop has a liberal return policy- I like that idea! But I am still not sure which console I should buy. Also, I always hear about PC games. Do those require a lot of memory and will downloading them slow down my computer, or are they mostly online and easy to access? And should I conclude that purchasing a console and discs (cds, dvds whatever) is a good investment? I don't want to play in stores, as that would be inconvenient, though I am intrigued by the idea of asking for opinions from Game Stop employees.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!