Looking at M&S Education Through the Prism of the Video Game Industry

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Posted: February 9, 2016 | By: John Lawson III

Any process resembling that is destined to be slow, and slow is bad when you’re talking technology. If you know your organization is going to be slow, allow for flexibility. Don’t enshrine too many courses. Don’t enshrine too many skillsets. Don’t enshrine too many credentials. Emphasize education and don’t slide too far into professional certification.

According to an article by David Owen for ign.com, a website dedicated to commercial games, those who hire new employees for game developers are more interested in a prospect’s portfolio of tangible work, rather than a transcript or a resume.

We should resist our bureaucratic habit of checking into the comfort zone that’s laden with checklists and credentials. We should take a page out of the commercial gaming world’s book and examine the portfolios, i.e., the productivity, of our M&S folks. People who have been educated in a meaningful way should be able to harness their intellectual horsepower and produce something. Let’s think a little less specifically about what happens inside the black box of educational institutions, and let’s think a little bit more about outputs.

Education ought to be synonymous with an open mind. If we’re thinking there are only a few, narrowly defined ways to educate our M&S personnel, we’re probably pursuing our goals in the wrong way. Or, at a minimum, we’re probably talking about training rather than education.

Our quasi-colleagues in the commercial gaming industry have a variety of academic backgrounds. Computer science is common, but there are plenty with backgrounds in math, physics, English, graphic design, etc.

And even when the commercial gaming industry does hire students who went to school with an eye toward specialization, the industry is open to a wide array of specialized students. There are at least several dozen colleges and universities with impressive curricula for game developers. However, a look at the diversity of these schools and the diversity of their academic approaches ought to deter DOD from following a cookbook mentality about M&S education. If we fixate on a few credentialing recipes, we’ll struggle to keep up technologically.

Nobody ever accused the gaming industry of struggling to keep up technologically.

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