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Oct 28, 2005



Off-topic a bit, but I'm curious to know what it takes to get into the research-development side of virtual worlds. The job postings I've seen here mainly cover high-end academic positions, but I'm more interested in engineering.

I'm thinking of a career change and switching from a "product data management software development" death march to a "virtual world software development" death march is not appealing. Research sounds better. Do the game companies have research staff? Is research always combined with teaching? What's feasible? How should I prepare?


For reasons of being obliged to conform to this ridiculous, unimaginative, clone-producing curriculum it would be a conflict of interests for me to comment on it.

Let's just say that this is one of the reasons I find academia so dispiriting at times...



Well I for one am glad that the game development companies are involved in this process as I have yet to see Skillset's own kitemark.

For those of you who would like to short circuit the process I recommend checking out John Sear's course at Derby University. I gave a talk at the launch and I'm happy to report that they will be using Second Life to teach some of the modules, which must be some kind of kitemark in itself ;-)


The first step is to create it, I suspect.

And with regards to death marches, I recently attended a 'lecture' by Alan Cooper on his book about Ending the Death March. =P


Ken, I don't know of any non-academic research positions in virtual worlds, high-end or otherwise. Well, we actually do research along with development, but that's because we're small enough that we can afford to to do so (which, yes, is entirely paradoxical). And I'm not about to hire a "researcher" who's not also (and primarily) a "developer."

I remain deeply hopeful and deeply skeptical about the state of game design/development instruction. People from Digipen, Full Sail, and similar places are probably able to get hired as entry-level artists or QA, but to my knowledge they aren't being hired as producers or more than entry-level programmers, much less designers. It is yet to be demonstrated, IMO, that for a young person wanting to get into the game industry any four-year undergraduate degree relevant to the game industry (other than general CS, but even there the connection is thin) is significantly better than having some talent and taking a few classes at the local community college.

That's harsh and I'm not happy about it, but it's what I see. I continue to be hopeful for programs like the ETC at Carnegie Mellon, but I don't know how their graduates actually fare. Still, it's probably best program I know of.

Will this seal of approval discussed above help? Maybe. In five years. Or it could be entirely irrelevant. Right now I sure wouldn't assign any real meaning to it. The chasm between education and game industry is even wider than that between academic researchers and the game industry (across which, thankfully, several bridges are being built).


I'm definitely not a "researcher" -- I just want to work for a research-oriented group. Is there a Xerox Parc or Bell Labs of the virtual world community?


Ken, there is one place that might fit the bill. (I'll be heading to the talk referenced by that link tomorrow; might be enlightening.)

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