I was chatting with a college student who I've known for quite some time, and he wanted to apply to our company. He's of the first batch of students on a course specific to videogame development, and he's at the point where he's working on his thesis so I surmised he's got like, one schoolyear left.
So I asked if he had projects to show, and he did show a couple of games he contributed work on. Much of the programming for them, he said, he was responsible for, so I'll take his word on that.
The games themselves actually show potential. By the way, these are short games reminiscent of, say, mobile games or browser games, to give you an idea.
There are some flaws on the design, mainly in one game, the play experience was most of the time, frustrating. But he's the programmer so I should be judging his coding skills, not the design.
So, without seeing the source code, the best I could do at that point was speculate how good his coding skills are, based on the games I saw. Or I could simply test him.
So to start, I made an extremely simple test.
"By the way, do you know what 'design patterns' are?", I asked.
"Hmmm, ok, how about 'unit testing'?"
"Oh, again, no, sir."
At that point I didn't bother asking further. At that point I was thinking, "What the hell are schools teaching students these days?"
Then the discussion went on about how disappointed he was in his school, and how I was in a similar situation back then.
Well, good then, I thought. The first step to improvement is to know in the first place that you are lacking.
In the end, the most useful advice I could give him at that point is recommendations on what books to read.
To start off, I mentioned the ever useful Code Complete, and then a bunch of other books useful for game programmers.
Ultimately, I'm not trying to paint a bad picture of the education system right now. I know videogame development is still gaining momentum here in the Philippines.
I just wanted to share my encounter with this student, and how often we have to take matters into our own hands if we want something done.