Preparing the Next Generation of Developers - Article

By Kasper Andersen, January 4, 2013
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In Denmark we have an educational offer for people who want to work in the video game industry: a semester at the National Academy of Digital Interactive Entertainment (also known as DADIU). DADIU brings together students from different disciplines, including programming, audio, game design, and others, and lets us create games that are beyond what we could ever do without a firm place in the industry. And while DADIU is a fairly new establishment, it has already fostered award winning games like Blackwell (or Blackwell’s Asylum) and Back to Bed. For any student who wants to get into the game industry, then, DADIU is an enticing prospect, which is also why I was very excited to take part in it here in the fall of 2012. But it wasn't quite what I expected.

I was a programmer on team one, the team behind Horizon. The team consisted of 16 people from all around the country. None of us had next to any experience in the game industry. To make things easier for us, the team included roles like the game director - who was responsible for the vision of the game - and the project manager - who was responsible for managing the team. We started the semester in September with a focus on teambuilding and learning about each other's disciplines to improve our communication. Then, after a few weeks, we were put through our first test: a five day production to create a small game. As it turned out, we still had a lot to learn.

DADIU 2012 games
To play the 2012 DADIU games, visit this website.

Because we all came from different educational institutions, October saw our teams being split up and sent out to fulfil various requirements made by our educators at home. But when November came around, we were brought together again and our leading team members had come up with a concept that we could get to work on immediately. This was our big DADIU game - a six week production where we had a chance to show what we could do, and maybe even impress a future employer or two.

But now, the training wheels had come off, and in spite of our best (and probably naive) efforts, we soon ran into the chasm that existed between our academic world and the real world. As it turns out, 16 people is a hell of a lot of people to get together and make great things. We'd only barely learned to crawl, but we had skipped ahead and were now trying our best to run. It wasn't always pretty.

In the end, I came away a bit surprised. Proud of what we'd achieved, but definitely surprised. Like many of my teammates, I'd come to DADIU to learn how to make awesome games. And while I've certainly learned a few things in that regard, I've learned far more about the importance of team management and communication. So it's hard not to feel a bit like the game became a by-product of my time at DADIU rather than the primary product. But I'm also glad that it became so, as I have a feeling that I've learned much more than I otherwise would. And I can only hope that this opportunity, or something similar at least, is something other fledgling developers out there will be given.

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