Sequencing Learning Experiences

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PROFESSOR: The students spend about six hours in class each week. And right at the beginning of the semester, most of those six hours are either lectures or activities or workshops that we have planned to have inside the class. It's very, very tightly programmed. This may involve, say, brainstorming for the team projects, or forming up with teams, going through the project constraints, or teaching them the techniques that we want them to learn.

Near the end of the semester, we heavily scale back the program content. We give students a lot of class time just to meet up with the teams. Because for many, many teams, it's difficult enough to gather six people in the same room, in the same place, at the same time. To get eight of them in the same room, well, they're doing it during class time. At least you know everybody's going to be there. So we try to give as much time as possible later in the semester for teams to actually work on their project. But sometimes that is planned out, like playtest sessions, for instance, where students play each other's games.

PROFESSOR: In the first half of the semesters, all the lectures and workshops are given by the staff. But by the second half of the semester, we're getting them to see other aspects of game development. So within MIT students-- and actually, this year, a few Wellesley students-- most of our students are going to be coming to us with a programming background. A few might have some design classes under their belt. Maybe they've taken one of our game design classes or another design class offered at MIT.

Some of the students are going to have some art aptitude, visual art aptitude. Some, a little bit more a sound design or music composition aptitude. But for the most part, they don't know what it's like to be an artist. They don't know what it's like to be a sound designer on a game development project. And they might actually not know anything about the business of games.

So the last half of the semester is bringing in guest lecturers from the industry. We've got a great network here in Boston, an independent game developer network. Also, quite a few of the AAA larger studios are here. So we mine our network in each year. We get new speakers to come talk to them about how to work with an artist, how to work with a sound designer, what it actually means to be an art director in a game company, or what actually does it mean to even be a level designer on a large project?

But then also, we're bringing people in to talk about business models. Kickstarter is often an interesting topic for the students.

We try to balance it between here's what the industry what looks like, and here's the things that are going to help you, right now, with the game that you're working on now. And if you wanted to take the game a little bit further after the course, here's the things that you could do. Things like fundraising, submitting it to festivals, marketing it, and just getting other people to play it.

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