In a paper entitled “Designing the Designer,” two professors have proposed that colleges decide who to admit to their game design programs based off of what games the applicants like. The two authors of the paper, Robin Potanin and Oliver Davies, want an affirmative-action style quota system; too many aspiring video game designers like to play Call of Duty, and not enough like to play Candy Crush.
The paper was presented to DiGRA, the Digital Games Research association. DiGRA is an association of academics who do “game studies”: that is, talking about games rather than making them Instead of designing games, which is hard, DiGRA authors like to make large, sweeping proposals about “increasing gender balance” and “raising awareness of privilege.” While making games is hard, papers about diversity can be hammered out in an afternoon over coffee, and are easy to write even if you’re a moron who knows nothing about gaming.
The paper these two authors have written is a fine example of this trend.
Chasing The Gamers Out Of Gaming
Their theory is that the type of games you like to play are the type of games you’re likely to make. If you’re a fan of RPGs, you might make a Final Fantasy clone. If you thought Modern Warfare 2 was the greatest game ever, you’re likely to make an FPS. If, on the other hand, you’ve spent 10,000 hours on Fruit Ninja, you’re more likely to want to make a cell-phone game.
The authors did a “study” (meaning they took 30 kids in one of their game design classes and asked them what their favorite games were) that showed that the majority of potential game designers were fans of RPGs and FPS games. This is quite possible, since most hardcore gamers are. No matter how much you might like Depression Quest, you’re unlikely to want to make a career out of it.
The authors (who are clueless enough about gaming that they classify League of Legends and Red Dead Redemption as “roleplaying” titles) hope that by letting the Depression Quest players go to game design college and not letting the CoD fans go to college, they can “break stereotypes,” “diversify developers/players” and “innovate titles in the game industry.”
In other words, the “Design the Designer” in the paper title means literally designing the next generation of game makers, by picking who gets the training required to make games, and who doesn’t. It’s a sort of affirmative action for game design, but instead of being based on your race, its based on the type of games you want to play.
This is entirely in keeping with modern academia, which sees itself as “making a difference” and “changing the world” instead of just teaching people how to make video games, and perhaps doing some research. Only give the training and credentials to the “right” people, and in 5-10 years only the “right” people will still be around.
This worked spectacularly in the humanities, as anybody who’s ever met a university professor knows. If you want to be in grad school or higher, you absolutely must spout the right platitudes and feminist talking points, or you’ll never even make it in the door. Ever wonder how that happened? The exact same way you’re seeing here.
If Potanin and Davies had their druthers, in a few years coding colleges and games programs would be turning out nothing but social justice types. And if that’s all that’s available, that’s all companies are going to hire. The left would take over gaming like they’ve taken over so many other fields.
Thankfully, that’s probably not going to happen. A”gaming college” is essentially an expensive waste of money, and everybody knows it. If you want to code, the way to do it is the same way that it’s always been: you go get a copy of some game engine (Unity is a good one), get a book, and start coding. Gaming is an extremely tough industry, and if you don’t have that level of dedication you’re never going to make it.
Since there are so many entry points into the industry besides a degree from a gaming college, Potanin and Davies’ dream of increasing “diversity” by keeping out the wrong people is futile. In the end, they’re just children playing at being academics. And anybody who thinks League of Legends is an RPG is too dim to teach you anything about gaming anyway.
Updated: The person who originally found this paper and brought it to Gamergate’s attention has asked me to make a clarification: He’s spoken with the university where these two professors work at, and they pointed out that Potanin and Davies’ proposal was thankfully, never executed. The university wishes to remain apolitical. Good for them.