DSGA year one recap, part 1

7 Jun

A year. It’s been a year. A year since I blogged. A year since we made the decisions about who would be admitted to the first class of the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy. Almost a year since the 2014/2015 school year started. And it’s been a month since we completed our first year. Where the heck does the time go?…

It’s been an eventful year, that’s for sure. One in which we learned a lot. And I mean a lot…

In a sense, the words “be careful what you wish for” apply perfectly. Bottom line? I decided to take a hiatus from game development because I was looking for some new and different challenges. I’ve certainly gotten them!

So what sort of challenges did we face in creating a brand new game development program?

The first challenge was simply figuring out what the DSGA should be all about. I didn’t see much point in simply duplicating what other game development programs do. Plenty of colleges and universities do a fine job of teaching people the nuts and bolts of making games. Trying to compete with such well-established programs seemed likely to end up in us getting crushed. The DSGA needed a unique focus.

The second challenge was finding the right people to teach leadership skills. I could have looked for faculty members with a ton of teaching experience as the number one qualification, but I knew what I really needed was people with real, hands-on (and recent) game development and/or studio management experience. Needless to say, it wasn’t easy finding people with those qualifications who were at a point in their lives where they were ready to give back to an industry that had done so much for them. I had to lure some people away from development and convince them that academia offered satisfactions they couldn’t find any other way.

The third challenge was finding students. We had a brand new, untested program and we needed to, first, get the word out and, second, convince people to give our fledgling program a shot.

Finally, from a pool of potential candidates we had to identify the 20 best and brightest from among our applicants. We needed young developers with aspirations and raw aptitude to lead.

With a little luck and a lot of hard work, all of those challenges were overcome. To be honest, things went even better than I hoped they would.

Next time, I’ll tell you how we addressed each of those challenges.

In the meantime, bear in mind that the DSGA is looking for candidates for our second year of leadership and management training. If you’re interested but want details, go to our website – http://moody.utexas.edu/gaming-academy. If you want even more information, check out my blog posts from last year, starting in December 2013 and going pretty regularly until April of 2014 – https://warrenspector.wordpress.com/2013/12/. You can also like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DeniusSamsGamingAcademy/
. Finally, if you’re just ready to apply, go to http://moody.utexas.edu/gaming-academy/apply.

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