Thursday, September 4, 2014

Uncertain Paths

play testing
For the longest time, probably since he was three years old, I've imagined JT having a career in the field of science. By the time he was five, he was telling strangers that he wanted to be an entomologist when he grew up. Later, he considered working at a zoo, or just getting a degree in biology, to see where it might take him. However, in the last year he has started to drift away from the sciences and into more creative pursuits. The problem is, I'm not sure how to help him follow these interests to find a career path.

So far, the thing he says he's most interested in doing in the future is designing games, more specifically, card games. He is very good at coming up with new ideas for games, creating the mechanics for the games, and developing the content. He needs work on his art skills, but is able to make testing versions for his games that give you an idea of what they would be like in a completed form. He has been making games like this for years as a hobby. This year, I have incorporated it into his schooling by creating a game design class for him. So what do you do about college when you want to design games, don't want to learn to program in order to make computer games, and aren't a fantastic artist? Maybe college isn't part of that path? I've been spending some time doing research, but knowing that he could change his mind again in a year or two makes me hesitate to invest too much effort. Of course, now that he's in high school, that deadline to find his path is compelling me to hurry, hurry, hurry! On the other hand, because of his grade skip in elementary school, he will finish high school when he is only 5 months into his 17th year. There will be time to take a breath before plunging into college if he needs to find that focus. But that would be, once again, not following the 'norm' by going straight from high school to college to career.

And you know how much I hate not following the 'normal' path.


Jo in OKC said...

Based on what I saw with the latest CheapAss games kickstarters, the game designers and the artists don't have to be the same people.

Maybe ask the guys at CheapAss games what skills are useful?

Or have him e-mail the people at Set Enterprises (Set, Quiddler, Five Crowns, Xactica, Karma) what they think?

Are there any game stores in town? A job working in one would give him insight into what people liked about games and what they looked for. The owners could also give him info about how they decide what to stock. Or, the store may host game nights where he might meet others interested in games.

My guess is that a business degree of some sort would be useful, but it's up to him whether he's happy getting "just the info" from a local school or whether he's interested in the contacts and potential business incubator potential of a bigger/more expensive school. I can also see that studying history/literature/mythology (not necessarily as a major, just as humanities distribution courses) would give someone a broader background of knowledge on which to base games.

Is he participating in any game design contests? I found a couple in a quick search:

I know it's not exactly kid-friendly, but Cards Against Humanity has generated a lot of buzz for card games again, I think. And their business model is interesting (you can download their cards and print them yourself, or buy the cards from them).

Cyber Momma said...

Thank you for your advice, Jo!

In fact, a new game store just opened in town this year. He's been in a few times, but missed the game nights.

He is taking a Coursera class called Understanding Video Games that will look at the story lines and influences of literature, so even though it's specific to video games, I think it will be useful to him.

Many of his games have science themes, so I can still see how a science major may play out. I've also suggested looking for a different major and just loading up on many science classes for the purpose of game ideas.

Thank you again. It's good to have a few more threads to follow. :-)