Should Schools Fail more Game Art Students?

Should Schools Fail more Game Art Students?

2D artist Becca Hallstedt talked about the responsibilities of game art schools.

2D artist Becca Hallstedt talked about the responsibilities of game art schools and their duty to teach and tell the truth.

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Game Art education is a hard topic to discuss. It’s expensive to study and getting a job in this field is incredibly challenging. So should you actually take this chance? Should you devote your time to it? Take a huge student’s loan and feel that pressure for the next couple of years. Is it worth it? What if you fail? Becca Hallstedt published her thoughts about it on Twitter.

Game art college programs need to be honest with AAA quality work and be transparent with students about the dedication of time and practice it takes to get there.

Game art college programs need to stop passing students in fear that flunking, being honest with students will cause them to leave: a loss of income for the school. A wallet walked away. Game art college programs are failing their students by not doing exactly what the students are paying TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars for: to learn how to make professional level game art.

American for-profit schools are exactly what they’re called, and they’re failing to evolve. Failing to provide a modern education in a constantly, quickly changing field. Passing a class is a message: “you have done the work that you need to. You have reached the expected, required level of quality.” Passing students that have not done that is blatant lying. It is taking advantage of young adults. Of parents trying a new career. Of dreamers.

We as a development community desperately need to have a conversation about the *hundreds* of college programs pumping underprepared, heavily-in-debt, passionate, miseducated creators into the world. An open one. It is *entirely and genuinely* okay for students to study games and have other goals than AAA/realistic art/etc but holy shit, if you’re going to vacuum $20k or $70k or $120k out of a 19-year-old, help them have skills to make a living so they can eat. Jesus Christ.

Game art college programs are not working and we need to talk about it.


What do you think? Should schools fail more people? Should they make their admission requirements higher? How should they treat students who can’t show AAA-quality work? Money back? Never accept them?

What’s your take on it? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments 9

  • Seadee

    My path to working in AAA involved a lot of time dedicated to personal work and skill building at home mixed with piece meal course work from Gnomon School, CGMA, and a few local private game programs. In my experience Gnomon was worth every penny. You are being taught by working professionals who fill the skill gaps that are hard to achieve working solo at home. They also provide an environment that promotes healthy competition and accountability. CGMA also has its bright spots, again taught by working professionals. The classes are prerecorded with the exception of a q&a period each week so the classroom environment is not the same as a live Gnomon class. Still very high quality instruction there. I think it really comes down to the desire of the student. The program matters but the student who works hard will find their success.



    ·a year ago·
  • Andy

    Perhaps, I think the institutions budgets, spending and resources should be criticised first though. Its great that people want to see better quality in education, but this topic is often highlighted for the wrong reason. That reason being a "Skill Shortage" for "Junior" and "Entry" level staff.

    However this whole skill shortage isn't due to a drop in quality of students. It's because the industry demands are changing.

    Companies want on call temporary contract staff for cheaper permanent staff salaries. They also want these people to relocate regularly and work in-house, which is really awkward in the long term. They basically want the benefits of permanent staff without the costs and responsibilities associated with it.

    A lot of large companies who are refereed to as AAA also expect no training required for a Junior even if its minor skills they want perfect candidates but all require different specialisms and experience. As well as this there is also a lack of Junior and lower skill roles because juniors aren't often specialists yet, people keep trying to trivialise specialism as simply a different path to the fundamentals they also actually need.

    Then there's the whole issue of burnout, which doesn't come from simply the overtime or unpaid overtime required at large studios. But it comes from a whole new level of Burnout, the extremely solid candidate finally gets there Junior Role and out of all the skills that they were so harshly judged upon they only make use of a couple of them.

    The amount of people I've been speaking to going through this is just nuts because they finally get the role they kinda needed 3-4 years prior and its too easy so all the grunt tasks there doing are just a grind for them now and they work outside of work like crazy to improve there skills or just leave the industry all together.

    This isn't a bash at the industry as whole, consumer demand and competition has naturally ramped up the Quality required, but its moronic to point the finger at  short 2-3 years school programs designed to teach the basic foundation of there Education. Then claim there's a skill shortage of high quality and specialised staff when there is no place for the lower levels to develop their skill sets.



    ·a year ago·
  • Jon

    Every game doesn't need to have AAA graphics, and not all students need to be able to produce that quality right out of school.  Just as a BBA or MBA doesn't automatically make a business student an executive vice president.
    The education is a foundation for a career.



    ·a year ago·
  • gameProf

    Some people develop at a different rate than others. I've seen students get in to the industry after a few years of being out of school. I got a degree in painting way back when. Was it useless? No. Were the chances of being a painter remote? Yes. Even teaching painting at a College or University remote? Yes.
    I'll agree that for profit schools are there for profit. And churning out students who don't have the skills to make is not good. However, if the classroom was full of only people who will definitely make it, there might not be any classes in Game Art, or Painting, or Anthropology, or Writing, or Music, or Dance, or Theater, or Science, or Math, or Philosophy, or History...see where this is going? If you really want a job when you graduate so you can feed yourself, get a two year degree in Database Admin and call it good.Get certified in Linux. There are all kinds of viable options. But, you don't get to draw dragons in class if you are getting a database admin degree.



    ·a year ago·
  • Anthony

    It is indeed a sad state of affairs and also worrying for employers who have jobs for the taking but a lot of applicants are below the skill level required upon graduation. Most that gain employment either practised and studied beyond the course during gaining a qualification or they improved on their own post graduating. It's not an easy industry to break into but it's also not impossible. Some courses do take the piss and fill seats for cash which is frustrating. The industry and companies in my opinion would be better served to start getting involved with courses to improve them. The reality of this is the time and financial cost to all parties as always :/



    ·a year ago·
  • 3dGuy

    I both agree and disagree with this. Yes, there ARE schools around the world who see students as walking wallets - and that totally sucks. Yes schools need to be honest about the Industry landscape and they should push students to be better


    Some students need to moderate their expectations of what they can achieve after a year or two of training. We have students who have never drawn or painted in their life and seem to think that enjoying playing games is the same as being passionate about making games.



    ·a year ago·
  • stan

    This is a interesting topic that is close to my heart. Before we fail the students, shouldn't we be failing the lecturers to begin with? In order for you to teach what you preach, you need to be able to walk the walk. I have seen lecturers who are out of the industry for more than 10 years and they still think they are relevant to still teach AAA stuff. There are a lot of problems with getting people who ain't qualified to teach in the first place. People tend to get complacent when they are in the education field. They fail to stay relevant. Its the Uni's fault for not checking on the relevance of the lecturer or people are just getting greedy when there are so much money to be made. I have seen Unis going through a filtering process to select the best student to make up a certain percentage and then having mediocre or potential students to fill up the rest of the spots. They use the "already there students" as marketing materials and the "so so" ones to make money. Its just my personal observation and experience and i might be wrong ... but its just plain disgusting how these courses are being commercialized these days.



    ·a year ago·
  • Josh

    I definitely agree with this, but it makes me wonder where are all the great game artists are coming from and how did they become great?   Youtube is filled with videos about artists that didn't go to school, and they tell their stories about how they worked their asses off to become great artists to get their dream job.  However, that's not the story of the majority of game artists.  So, if schools are truly failing, then why are there still tons of great artists making great art for games?



    ·a year ago·

    Totally agree with this. I also think it's a bit unfair how some people, that didn't do anything during the whole course, will have the same degree as someone who put all the effort in the world. I've seen this happen in almost every game art school I know.


    ·a year ago·

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