Inclusive Design

The next lecture was about designing your product with the intention to include as many different type of people as possible, without reinforcing stereotypes. No surprises there. A large part of this is being aware of the different types of people out there. This means assuring that, those with disabilities, all genders, all cultures, backgrounds and more, are able to view your product without feeling excluded or left out. As a programmer, I won’t be the one making a lot of these decisions, so I’m going to be look at this from a game developer’s standpoint.

 

Firstly, designing a game to be available to those with disabilities is certainly not the hardest thing in the world, and will make quite a few people very happy. Options for this include allowing the player to re map the controller configuration themselves, or if that’s not an option, including a few different pre-made controller configurations to try to include as many different play styles as possible e.g. ‘Southpaw’ is a very common pre made configuration that’s designed to make left handed people more comfortable.

 

How too respectfully represent people with different cultures, backgrounds, genders etc. in a game all fit under the same umbrella. The first step would be that if you don’t fully understand it, don’t include it. The exception to this would be if you were to completely researching the topic until you have a good understanding of the topic. Secondly, if you include just one character with that culture/background/gender, whether you like it or not, people are going to see it as you creating that character to represent everyone of that culture/background/gender, so it’s always a good idea to have two characters that are still different from each other, to better represent those people. Finally, WHEN you offend somebody, because god knows somebody somewhere will be offended, apologize. It’s always better to apologize than it is to risk pissing off even more people.

 Diversity

Also, if you’re main character in a game doesn’t need to be a straight white middle aged man, its definitely worth considering changing any of those three variables. Not only will you be helping to change the game industry and its severe lack of diversity, but you may even gain some fans out of it. If you’re concerned you would lose fans for having a non-male, a non-white, non-straight main character, check out Female Thor, Sgt. James Heller – Prototype 2 and Miles Morales – The new Spiderman.

Thor

It should also be noted that you shouldn’t just throw a culture into your game because it will make it look cooler, you will just be leaving yourself open to even more people becoming offended.

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Secret Interview Techniques

Unfortunately, this post won’t give you the secrets to nailing every job interview you ever have, but it’ll probably give you a better idea than what you already have, so here we go.

Step 1. Don’t worry about being nervous

A good interviewer will understand that if it’s a job you really want, you’re going to be nervous, it shows you care. But that certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be confident. Which brings me to step 2.

Nervous

Step 2. Show your passion

A good interviewer will look for passion in the interviewee. If you’re feeling nervous and suddenly get passionate about a topic that someone in your field would never even understand, like why you should use ++i instead of i++, or why you should give ‘i’ a name in the first place (for god sake programmers, do yourself a favour and spend an extra 3 seconds to name your damn loop variables and save yourselves the pain of staying up until 3 am 7 days a week trying to meet a deadline because you accidentally hit a j instead of an i and have a ridiculous amount of bugs and you have no idea what’s causing them).

Nerd alert

Step 3.  Know what you’re talking about

I don’t just mean at a complex level that only someone decent/good in your field would understand. Explain everything at a basic level that someone without any experience would understand. This shows that you not only know what you are doing, but know why you are doing it. For example, I would explain that using ++i instead of i++ as a variable in a loop is 20% quicker as i++ makes a copy of i, updates the copy, then sets the original i to the value of the copy and if the loop has a loop inside of it, j is used instead of i and after hours and hours of programming, i can look a lot like j and they are very close on the keyboard so by not naming those variables, you leave yourself open to making a lot of easily avoidable mistakes.

Mind blown

Step 4. Show initiative

This is a tough one, as it isn’t something you can actually do in an interview, it’s something you need to have done in the past. You don’t necessarily need work experience in your chosen field to prove that you can show initiative. Talk about group projects during your education, or about times in any other line of work where you took a leadership position, in order to get something done. Like the time your manager didn’t show up to work because he drank too much the night before and was really hungover, so you took charge and told all the other part time staff members what to do for the entire day, even though you didn’t get manager pay, but hey, that’s retail for you.

Initiative

Copyright & Contracts

The greatest part about any job in the creative industries is obviously all the legal mumbo jumbo and enough red tape to make you question if you actually own the product you are working on.

Wait.

What do you mean it’s not?

Maybe if I explain it to you.

 Copyright

Firstly copyright laws don’t only cover finished products, but the way an idea is “expressed” meaning if a designer was to create a game design document for a game, it would then automatically be covered by copyright. The game doesn’t actually have to be made for it to be considered property and covered by law. Naturally, ideas are not covered, as it would be impossible to prove that you had an idea before someone else had the same idea, let alone if they actually had that idea in the first place. So along as you have some kind of concept of idea, it’s covered by copyright law. Pretty great, right?

As for not knowing if what you create is yours or not think of it this way. You’re running your own company and you need some work done, but for whatever reason you don’t want to add them to the pay roll permanently, so you hire someone via contract to get the job done. The contract is written up in a way so that everyone wins. Your company gets all the money from the game and takes full ownership, and the contracted employee is allowed to use the game in his or her portfolio to show future employers and they also get payed for doing the job. How fair the contract is entirely depends on the cooperation of each party.

As the contracted person, imagine the company you are hired to work for tries to screw you over, assuming you didn’t screw up and not read the contract, you may be eligible to take complete ownership over what you have done. Again, how great is that?

So as I was saying, Copyrights and Contracts are totally cool and can definitely save you from the pain of having your idea stolen, or hiring someone to help you finish off an idea, just to have them claim part ownership and entitlement to half of the funds your idea makes.

Income vs Art

This week’s message again a pretty simple one: generally speaking, the more you get paid to use your skills to create, the less creative the work. Fortunately, there are varying paths someone can take with varying degrees of income and varying degrees of creativity.

Instead of listing all the different possible variations for every possible creative industry, I am just going to stick to my field, game programming, and talk about a few examples of what the salary is like in this area according to www.gamasutra.com.

Firstly, the ‘big company’ jobs. Lucky for me programming is one of the better paying job in this area, being beaten by very few other professions. Much like the full time jobs, programmers who choose to work via contracting are also one of the better paid people.

Alternatively, programmers are one of the lower paid people when it comes to the indie development side of things.

The first two work types definitely are on the less creative side of things, where as an indie programmer would likely have more of a say in the games creation.

www.meatfighter.com

With all this being said, programming is probably considered to be less creative than most other creative industry jobs, especially in the video game industry, so the argument / lifestyle choice of income vs art probably applies a lot less to me as it does for others in the creative industry, but I’m not sure how I would handle having to program the latest my little pony / barbie game year after year when I could just say ‘Fuck it’ and create my own games with lasers and explosions.

Taken from wikipedia
Taken from wikipedia

We Are All The Same

Aaaaaand we are back. Trimester 2 has begun and we have started on a note that is extremely obvious and concerning. One example of this is that we, the creative few attempting to make a future in various entertainment industries, are all the same. Working our assess off so we can get the qualification to maybe work low income jobs with long hours if we are lucky. Why? Because we all have our creative itch that needs to be scratched. Apparently we would rather scratch that itch than be well off.

Will work for food

In my experience, I can confirm this theory. After all, I chose to go to uni so I can get a bachelor in game development, after turning down a very well-paying job as a real estate agent with one of the fastest growing agencies in Queensland, Australia. So now instead of being able to buy a house in a year or two, but I am now in thousands of dollars of debt, that’s slowly getting bigger and bigger as I progress through my course. But even saying this, I have no interest in quitting the course and begging for the opportunity to be a real estate agent. I turned it down because I would much rather do something I love (create video games) and just scrape by, then earn a very decent amount of money and work a job that doesn’t feel fulfilling.

Sorry, not hiring

So why do we do it? After looking into it a little, I came across a few different reasons. Poet Kwame Dawes says “I write in what is probably a vain effort to somehow control the world in which I live, recreating it in a manner that satisfies my sense of what the world should look like and be like.” Dancer Gina Gibney says “I make art for a few reasons. In life, we experience so much fragmentation of thought and feeling. For me, creating art brings things back together.” Animator Pete Docter “I make art primarily because I enjoy the process. Its fun making things.” (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/, 2008).

So armed with this knowledge I have come to this complex and unexpected conclusion on “why we do it”. Ready? It’s because we can and we feel like it. There really is no other rhyme or reason. Like I said earlier, we all have that itch that needs a scratch.Arting

Now here is the weird part. After talking about how I turned down a well-paying job to maybe get a job that doesn’t pay all that well and work absolutely ridiculous hours, purely because I have the desire to make games, I am actually more excited than ever to become a programmer.