American (Game Developer) Idol

This weekend, 30 whiz kids from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts spent 38 nonstop hours creating computer games.

It was part of a contest by 38 Studios, a game development company founded by Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, to find and nurture the next great game designers. The deadline is February 18, and the contest is open to student coders across the state. The winner will get funding along with a possible job at the start-up.

My question is: why doesn't this sort of exercise happen more often? Are companies/schools doing enough to cultivate the next generation of videogame developers? Videogame sales had a record year last year, hitting more than $10 billion; and 2008 looks just as promising. While virtually every other media industry - film, tv, newspapers, music - is being upheaved or destroyed by digital innovation, vidgames only continue to thrive. Why not incorporate videogame design into high school curricula? A 6 - 12 public grade school, opening in the fall of 2009, in NYC has that in mind. The school, created by the Institute of Play and funded in part by a $1.1 million MacCarthur Foundation grant "will use game design and game-inspired methods to teach critical 21st century skills and literacies."



IEEE Spectrum’s gaming blog was retired in 2010, but it is preserved here for archival reference.