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Aug 15, 2005



Good idea, Ted. But you said, To keep it simple, let's only have positions open to people with the standard university-level terminal degrees - PhD, JD, MFA.

How then do positions where no PhD exists (or where any PhD is more or less a forced fit) become staffed? I know that a few universities (e.g., SMU, UT-Austin, CMU - probably others) have offered positions to people with significant industry experience when no graduate program yet exists. This seems to make a great deal of sense in new areas.

I hope that game design and similar programs continue to take root in first-tier academia. But I don't believe it's tenable to limit the pool of researchers or instructors in such areas to those who have already been through the academic mill. Doing so overly limits the pool of potential applicants and further increases the academic/industrial divide.

(Apologies if this isn't the kind of discussion you were looking for here.)


Mike, one part of it is that we are limited by these basic rules. In my case, the restriction to people with PhDs, JDs, and MFAs is a university thing, we have no control over it.

I agree that it would help to have some forum where, for lack of a better term, nontraditional positions could get advertised. So if anybody has positions open to those with extensive industry experience, I think it's within the spirit of the thread to advertise them here as well.


It is my strong impression that in the UK a PhD is not nearly as strong a requirement. As I do not currently have a PhD I would be interested to see this post's context expanded to include jobs where a PhD is not necessarily required, or if registration for PhD study is a requirement of the job.


I have to agree with Mike; University rules are self-limiting in this context. Unless someone like Raph, who earned his MFA before taking the Kings Shilling, decides to go full-time into academia, you're not going to find many truly qualified instructors.


Dr C > we are limited by these basic rules.

Who sets the rules? If they are federal ones established in law, then is looks tough. But if they are set by the institution then why can’t they just be changed – other than general institutional inertia that is?


Things change slowly in academia, Ren.

But according to some">http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/org/fac-senate/titles_docs/benchmarklecturer_report.pdf">some sources (PDF), there are other options for even first-tier schools. MIT, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, U Penn, and Duke (among others) all use the "Professor of Practice" title to "designate positions for which the assumed credential is professional experience rather than the usual scholarly degrees." These often follow the typial Assistant, Associate, and full Professor path and at some schools can even be tenure-track positions.

Every institution is going to be different, but I think in areas like game development (especially online game development) for the foreseeable future many top-notch researchers and instructors are going to come from industry and will not have PhDs.


As some of you may know, we have a MS/MA program here called MIME (http://www.mime.indiana.edu), which is a game design program. We are going to build it out into a joint MFA with the Fine Arts department. That way we can start offering the terminal degree ("broadly eligible for university employment" not "deadly" although that may be descriptively more accurate) to people designing games. It's our way to work through the rules.


MIME looks like it has an excellent faculty... but these are people whom, I suspect, for all their knowledge and talent have little direct experience in designing or developing commercial games. That's the essence of the academic/industrial divide: you can start awarding terminal degrees in game development, but where is the experience in the faculty and curriculum behind those degrees coming from?

So long as terminal degrees are required for teaching in new areas like game development, either those teaching will not have actual experience in this area, or will be learning from those with degrees, but who themselves learned from those without direct experience. (Moreover, I suspect that those coming out with terminal degrees in game development will continue to be devalued by industry until the programs show their worth -- meaning that many such graduates will end up heading back into academia, perpetuating the cycle and widening the divide.)


Jessica Mulligan> University rules are self-limiting in this context ... you're not going to find many truly qualified instructors.

Ooh! Unless someone wants to give me an honorary doctorate, or something! :-) That's the ticket!


> Ren > Who sets the rules?
Mike > Things change slowly in academia, Ren.

Pffft, now that my generation is the generation starting to move up through the ranks I expect it to move a lot quicker!

And I certainly think that in some areas there is a need for an injection of actual experience.

If I’m an expert at anything it’s actually telecoms as I used to be global head of strategic this and that and a bit of the other (Internet, product development, hosted applications and digital media – as it happens) for a very large telco. At the same time I do ethics of technology, and geez I find that some academic’s notion of what the internet is as a technical and commercial structure has almost no relationship to reality. In some cases this can be fine, highly abstract models of things are good for some purposes, but when one is looking at certain aspects of ethics and how they pertain to policy etc, it kinda helps to have an inkling of the industry you are talking about, not what you think it is in a utopian or distopian vision. In fact I’d go so far as to offer my time to give classes on industry areas I have real experience of, but no I ant got none of that book-learnin in it.


Randy Farmer wrote:

Jessica Mulligan> University rules are self-limiting in this context ... you're not going to find many truly qualified instructors.

Randy>> Ooh! Unless someone wants to give me an honorary doctorate, or something! :-) That's the ticket!

That and large salary. When it comes to the game industry, universities are going to have the same problem government has in hiring qualified people; qualified people can make a lot more money in the commercial sector than they can teaching full-time.


OTOH, we don't have crunch time. On the contrary, we have anti-crunch time. It's called 'summer'.


Ted - stop that "summer" talk. You are going to make me think about giving up these 14 hour days toiling away in this law office. I bet you don't work Christmas Eve either. Bah . . .



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