Resulting from the project Video and Mobile Games Education Development and Cross Collaboration 1

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Summary

Gap Analysis

Resulting from the project “Video and Mobile Games Education Development and Cross Collaboration”1

Lifelong Learning Programme – Leonardo Da Vinci

1 This paper was drafted by evolaris next level GmbH taking into account feedback given by VMGED partners.

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Table of content

Table of content ... 2

About this document ... 3

1 Objective ... 4

2 Methodology ... 4

2.1 Limitations and remarks concering the results ... 4

2.2 Expert interview analysis focus ... 5

2.3 Sample | Expert Interviews ... 6

3 Summarized results ... 9

3.1 Identified knowledge, skill and competence gaps ... 9

3.1.1 Degree of specialisation - balance between specialisation and generalisation ... 9

3.1.2 General aspects related to the major fields of specialisation in the game domain ...10

3.1.3 Gaps related to mobile multi-platform endeavours ...12

3.1.4 Gaps related to practical project experience ...13

3.1.5 Business and marketing related gaps ...13

3.1.6 Gaps related to methodologies for optimizing the user experience (User Centered Design) 14 3.1.7 Gamification – A new application field for game designers ...15

3.1.8 General demanded skills and soft skills ...15

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About this document

The document in hand is a summary of the gap analysis conducted during the study visits of the VMGED project, giving insights into educational gaps perceived by experts in the gaming industry. Note: It’s not a pan-European representative study.

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1 Objective

Identifying perceived gaps from the perspective of the game industry regarding the skills of graduates aiming to work in the game industry.

2 Methodology

In the course of the study visits we followed a three-folded approach:

 Semi-structured narrative expert interviews (qualitative paradigm) with VMGED partners representing the game industry

 Semi-structured narrative expert interviews (qualitative paradigm) with important players in the gaming industry for gaining insights into the demands of the gaming industry re-garding required skills of game professionals (as employees / partners)

 Derived aspects of presentations and discussions with industry players in the course of various study visits and attended events, such as the Mobile Monday with a “serious” game focus (Mechelen), NHTV event, Games AI (Vienna), etc.

 The identified gaps are mapped according to the European Qualification Framework (EQF). For the official definition of the EQF see Appendix 1.

2.1 Limitations and remarks about the results

The results reflect the perception and the opinion of the interviewed game industry experts which represent rather the independent game development scene than the AAA-game-devel-opment-studios. The results are of an indicative nature (qualitative paradigm) – not a repre-sentative one.

For the supplementation respectively the definition of the Manifesto, a (self)-assessment scheme for game-related curricula, relevant issues were derived from the analysis in hand in order to cover emerging industry-relevant aspects. The identified gaps which give an insight into the needs of the industry are not to be seen as recommendations for implementing the raised issues one-to-one in a curriculum without reflection. Against the circumstance that people with different educational backgrounds and professions are working in the game in-dustry, not every individual articulated gap can or should be covered from graduates of

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game related educational institutions. It depends on the characteristics of the specific curric-ulum which field of specialisation should be covered to which extent.

The EQF mapping in this document is just a rough mapping for illustrating the educational gaps perceived by the interviewees in the context of the EQF. It is not an immediate recom-mendation for the definition of curricula.

The applied EQF level classification in this document is directly related to each classified (=mapped) gap/issue/subject. Hence, the mapped issue is supposed to be taught on this niveau (EQF level).

Note: The analysis in hand is not focused on graduates of the academic project partners. Therefore the identified gaps are not related to the curricula of the project partners.

2.2

Expert interview analysis focus

The questionnaire covers the key (meta) questions regarding demanded skills of graduates from the perspective of the gaming industry:

 Which skills/competences are poorly covered in the game industry? (Gaps)

 Which skills/competences are well-covered the game industry?

 Which are neglected areas of specialisations/skills in the game industry?

 Is there a higher demand for specialists or all-rounders?

 What will be future demands in the gaming industry and what will be its impact on the educational sector?

We distinguished 5 main fields of specialisation: Game development

Game design/game mechanics Game Artists

Story Writing Game production

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2.3 Sample | Expert Interviews

Note: The sample is anonymized

1. Interviewee #1: Owner of a Greek game company representing an independent game development and game outsourcing studio. The company produces original commercial games and provides high quality game production services since 2005.

a. Production focus:

i. Commercial Online Games

ii. Advergames for branding and marketing purposes b. Company size: 3 persons

c. Areas of operations: i. Story writing

ii. Management / game production

iii. Outsourced: Game development, game mechanics, game arts

2. Interviewee #2: Owner of a Greek game company representing an independent game development studio for mobile games.

a. Production focus:

i. Mobile games for IOS (mainly) ii. Mobile games for Android b. Company size: 5 persons

c. Areas of operations:

i. Game Development

ii. Game Mechanics iii. Game Arts iv. Story Writing

v. Management / Game production vi. Outsourced: Music and sound effects

3. Interviewee #3: Company owner representing a game development company based in Greece.

a. Production focus:

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ii. Sport management games for PC b. Company size: 3 persons

c. Areas of operations:

i. Game Development

ii. Game Mechanics iii. Game Arts iv. Story Writing

v. Management / Game production

4. Interviewee #4: Company owner representing an independently owned Austrian game development studio, specialiced in high-tech approaches in game develop-ment.

a. Production focus: i. Cross platform ii. Kinect / Xbox b. Company size: 19 persons c. Areas of operations:

i. Game Development

ii. Game Mechanics iii. Game Arts iv. Story Writing

v. Management / Game production

5. Interviewee #5: Company owner representing a small Austrian-based startup com-pany which sells and develops software for mobile devices

a. Production focus:

i. Mobile games and software

ii. Native C++ cross platform multimedia framework b. Company size: 3 persons

c. Areas of operations:

i. Game Development

ii. Game Mechanics

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6. Interviewee #6: representing a Greek video-game development and publishing com-pany; Founded 2007

a. Production focus: Currently existing game titles are available forWindows op-erating systems (PC) and in several languages.Titles under current develop-ment will target portable consoles and mobile platforms

7. Interviewee #7 and #8: engineer and marketing expert representing a Belgian com-pany specialized on marketing technology and digital solutions. In the gaming do-main the company focuses on marketing based serious game projects and conduct-ing research for providconduct-ing appropriate game infrastructure;

a. Production focus: i. Serious games ii. Game infrastructure b. Company size: 12 persons c. Areas of operations:

i. Serious games for marketing purposes

ii. Research on appropriate game infrastructure for online/mobile games 8.Interviewee #9: project manager representing an Austrian based company specialized in the interdisciplinary field of enabling mobile innovations; in the gaming domain the company covers theoretical aspects of serious games and gamification concepts focused on mobile solutions;

a. Company size: 30

Note: The experts chosen for the sample primarily represent the independent game develop-ment scene rather than AAA-game-developdevelop-ment studios. The AAA-game-developdevelop-ment-stu- AAA-game-development-stu-dios are well connected to the industry advisory boards of the educational institutions influ-encing the curricula on a continuous base.

EQF mapping notation (relevant for this document only)

The identified gaps are mapped according to the European Qualification Framework (EQF). The official definition of the EQF ist stated in Appendix 1. The mapping in this document is

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solely applied on issues for which the EQF scheme itself is applicable. The EQF mapping in this document is solely a rough mapping for illustrating the educational gaps perceived by the interviewed experts in the context of the EQF. It is not an immediate recommendation for the definition of curricula. The applied EQF level classification in this document is directly related to each classified (=mapped) gap/issue/subject. Hence, the mapped issue is sup-posed to be taught on this niveau (EQF level).

Knowledge Skills Competence

Level 1 1K 1S 1C Level 2 2K 2S 2C Level 3 3K 3S 3C Level 4 4K 4S 4C Level 5 5K 5S 5C Level 6 6K 6S 6C Level 7 7K 7S 7C Level 8 8K 8S 8C

3 Summarized results

Premise and limitations see chapter 2.1

3.1 Identified knowledge, skill and competence gaps

3.1.1

Degree of specialisation - balance between specialisation and

generalisa-tion

 The interviewed experts are divided regarding the industry demand of the degree of specialisation of game education program graduates. According to the one camp of experts who made bad experiences with high specialized graduates lacking the big picture in the game production domain, there is a high demand for all-rounders. The other camp tends to prefer more specialized employees. However, for both sides the specialists should have a good general knowledge about the entire professional game

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production process, its traditional challenges and pitfalls. Overall a so called T-shaped competence profile would be perfect. Precisely the interviewees are talking about specialists (game artists, game designers, game developers, etc.) with a good gen-eral knowledge about the ovgen-erall game production process.

3.1.2

General aspects related to the major fields of specialisation in the game

domain

3.1.2.1 Game development domain (programming)

 Regarding to the opinion of interviewed experts a main weakness in the education of game developers is that they are primarily taught standard programming languages such as C# and Java. Game developers should also be trained in using native pro-gramming languages.

Furthermore interviewed experts expressed the need for more game developers spe-cialized on C++, Python, Ruby etc. as well as various database systems in the gam-ing industry. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 6C, 7C]

 According to the founder of a Belgian marketing company the focus in game educa-tion needs also to be put on how to deploy a game whenever it’s finished. The way of deployment might play a big role in the development process as well since the game needs to be compatible with the platform it will be provided on. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5C]

 Especially interviewees from Greece stated the demand for graduates educated for state of the art technologies. The academies should provide state of the art tech-nologies for training their students (well equipment classrooms, game labs, etc.).

 Experts expressed the general need for more game specific courses in institutions of higher education. Students should get more specified education from departments which create game engines, software for game development etc.

General knowledge about the state of the art technical infrastructure: A main technology change within the last years was that hardware more and more be-came a service meaning that for instance data that was once stored on a server is meanwhile stored in a cloud-service. Education in gaming should focus more on infra-structure that is used to provide a game. Especially in the area of online games

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dents need to be trained in how to handle users and user data properly. In the opin-ion of interviewee #7 educatopin-ion is focusing too little on the game elements that are invisible. Knowledge about infrastructure and cost-efficient deployment is lacking. “This is exactly the knowledge people need when starting to work in the industry - many companies in the industry prefer to employ people with experience since they have exactly the knowledge about infrastructure and deployment which graduates are lacking.” - Belgian founder of a marketing company focusing on serious game de-ployment.

[EQF-Mapping: ≥ 6K, 6S, 6C]

3.1.2.2 Game design and game art

Overall, interviewees representing the core gaming industry stated that it’s nearly impossible to find qualified employees which hold a degree in an education specialized on gaming. Es-pecially game designers and game artists are very rare on the market. Greek gaming special-ists (interviewees) queried that appropriate courses in the educational programs are missing. Game designers and game artists are very rare. “There are only few people with such a spe-cific education available on the job market” - Interviewee #3.

Interviewed experts perceived the writing and scripting field of specialisation as hardly cov-ered skills. “A writer for the video game industry has to be talented, but she or he also needs the basic knowledge of how to produce or develop a video game. The writer has to know how to develop a character, how to write the setting and how to use techniques like story-boards, etc.” - Owner of a Greek-based gaming company focussed on game design [EQF-Map-ping: ≥ 6K, 6S, 6C, 7K, 7S, 7C]

3.1.2.3 Music and sound

In the course of the expert interviews music and sound was mentioned as neglected field of expertise by some of the interviewed experts. “A very important factor for the feeling of a game is the used music or the sound.” - Interviewee #3. “Practically, for employees in the gaming industry, there are no video game specific courses offered.” - owner of a Greek– based gaming company. In further discussions experts conclude that of course music and sound is an indispensable part of games but the field music and sound is better covered with professional musicians. Nevertheless, graduates of game education programs should ideally

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have some basic knowledge about how to set the scene and creating an atmosphere with sound effects and music (Interplay between game, sound and music). [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5K, 5S] The implementation-related technical background should also be an integral part of the edu-cation. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ S6, C6, S7, C7]

3.1.3

Gaps related to mobile multi-platform endeavours

Challenges arising from multi-platform-projects, especially in the mobile domain, pertain the entire game production team, from the management level to the development team. Due to the technical fragmentation of the mobile devices and platforms, the entire game production team has to be very skilled in multi-platform projects – especially for mobile solutions. These issues often have to be trained in in the real-job environment.

Technology domain: Fundamental decisions in the course of multi-platform pro-jects are based on decisions in the technical domain. These kind of major decisions require a very good knowledge about the technical possibilities in the mobile domain, such as different device capabilities, characteristics of the walled gardens (Apple, An-droid, etc.), online/offline data management, appropriate software architecture, ad-vantages and disadad-vantages of thin and fat clients (especially regarding privacy and security aspects), etc. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 6K, 6S, 6C]

Game design and game art domain: Multi-platform projects do not only require specific technical competences. There are also big challenges in the game interaction design, or to be more specific, in adapting the game interaction designs for different means of the user interfaces (game controller, keys, touch, etc. ) of different tech-nical platforms and devices.

“Use the device – that means optimizing games for the interaction opportunities of the hardware” -Belgium-based, independent game producer specialized in games for children. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 6K, 6S, 6C]

Game production domain: For projects in the fragmented mobile domain the knowledge about appropriate production processes for the development of mobile multi-platform games in coherence with a basic knowledge about mobile technologies is important. Fundamental technology decisions are critical success factors in such projects. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5K, 5S, 5C]

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3.1.4

Gaps related to practical project experience

“Currently students are not trained to run a complete project cycle from conception, develop-ment, implementation to marketing and management.” - Interviewee#8. Building multi-professional teams might reduce misunderstandings between people working on different production levels and hence increases productivity and efficiency in the production cycle.

 “Within their educational programme students develop and create games for fun. If you add time and budget to the process of creating a game the fun factor is all the sudden decreasing massively and students are not properly prepared for this”, inter-viewee Nr. 6. Interviewee #8 states that this is the most important aspect to be con-sidered within educational programs in gaming. Students need to learn at an early stage how the game production process functions in practice in order to have good chances for a quick employment possibility after graduation. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5K, 5S, 5C]

 There is a lack of collaboration between companies in the video game industry and the educational institutions. Strong emphasis on practical aspects in the education through a close collaboration between the academics and the industry is highly rec-ommended.

 Experts prefer lecturer with practical experience in the gaming industry: “Education from professionals for professionals

3.1.5

Business and marketing related gaps

The gaming industry is confronted with the challenge of funding issues for instance attract-ing investors. The experts articulated industry-specific difficulties convincattract-ing investors for funding game endeavours. “Investors are very sceptic about games and the game industry” - owner of a Greek–based gaming company. Experts see economic respectively business skills very poorly covered. Against this background graduates, especially game producers, should be equipped with some basic business knowledge especially regarding business models rele-vant for the gaming industry. The business jargon should be well known by game producers in order to properly communicate with executives and managers. Due to this reason basic business and marketing knowledge should be an integral part of their education. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5K, 5S]

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 A related issue concerns marketing skills and basic knowledge about relevant business models in coherence with specific game designs (e.g. gold mining, free-mium, bait and hook business model, means of advertisement in games, typical mar-keting concepts, etc.). [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5K]

 Identifying target groups plays an important role in regard of the game’s success. Students need to be trained in identifying their target users beforestarting to create a game. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5C]

 Students need to be trained in using and developing modern and efficient business models since technology and especially the online market is changing drastically quick. As an example the engineer of a Belgian marketing company mentions the model of renting server time from big companies (for instance Amazon) to deploy a game. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5S]

3.1.6

Gaps related to methodologies for optimizing the user experience (User

Centered Design)

Methodologies and process models for the formalisation of user experience optimizations in the game development process:

Game production domain: Producers and production process owners should pro-vide extensive skills regarding user-centered design process models, such as the EN ISO 9241-210 (former EN ISO 13407) or at least solitary methods for optimizing the user experience of the game. The interviewed experts often mentioned informal or improvised (user experience) testing and optimization initiatives in the gaming indus-try. For establishing a sustainable user experience optimization, game producers re-sponsible for the game development process should systematize specific methods by implementing user experience optimization methodology in the game production rou-tines. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5K, 5S, 5C ]

Entire game development team: Graduates involved in the game development process should have basic knowledge/skills in the standard methodology (inspection and user experience / usability testing methodology) for optimizing the user experi-ence of the games and game related solutions or concepts and should also know about the limitations of these methods. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5K, 5S]

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3.1.7

Gamification – A new application field for game designers

Gamification is gaining huge importance. Companies producing gamification concepts would benefit from the willingness of professional game designers to apply their knowledge not only in the core game industry. Game designers should have knowledge about the basic principles of gamification. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5K, 5S]

3.1.8

General demanded skills and soft skills

Additionally, the experts were asked for attributes, general skills and soft skills graduates should be equipped with. Besides the knowledge, skills and competence gaps described above, the following issues were identified in the course of the expert interviews:

 A Passion for video games paired with a high dedication for these specific jobs. “In the game industry nine-to-five-jobs are really rare” - Interviewee #6.

Ability to adapt quickly to new means of production: “What students are taught in University today (backends, code languages, platforms, technical infrastructure) will probably be non-existent in five years from now.” - Interviewee#9. People working in the game industry need to learn to adapt quickly and to keep up with a fast changing en-vironment.

Good self-presentation skills:

 Many candidates have no experience in presenting themselves and their curricula vi-tae. This is a necessary skill they need to bring along in order the be successful in finding a job. [EQF-Mapping: ≥ 5C]

 The candidates have to learn how to present themselves (personal portfolio, CV, how to contact a company). Especially the personal portfolio is an indispensable document for game artists

Creativity… … to create virtual characters, worlds and universes

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4 Appendix I Descriptors of defining levels in the European

Qualification Framework (EQF)

Source: http://ec.europa.eu/eqf/documentation_en.htm , 15.7.2014

Each of the 8 levels is defined by a set of descriptors indicating the learning outcomes relevant to qualifications at that level in any system of qualifications

Knowledge Skills Competence

In the context of EQF, knowledge is described as theoretical and/or factual

In the context of EQF, skills are described as cognitive (in-volving the use of logical, intui-tive and creaintui-tive thinking) and practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of meth-ods, materials, tools and in-struments)

In the context of EQF, compe-tence is described in terms of responsibility and autonomy

Level 1

The learning outcomes rele-vant to Level 1 are

basic general knowledge basic skills required to carry

out simple tasks work or study under direct su-pervision in a structured

con-text

Level 2

The learning outcomes rele-vant to Level 2 are

basic factual knowledge of a

field of work or study basic cognitive and practical skills required to use relevant

information in order to carry out tasks and to solve routine problems using simple rules and tools

work or study under supervi-sion with some autonomy

Level 3

The learning outcomes rele-vant to Level 3 are

knowledge of facts, principles, processes and general con-cepts, in a field of work or study

a range of cognitive and prac-tical skills required to accom-plish tasks and solve problems by selecting and applying basic methods, tools, materi-als and information

take responsibility for comple-tion of tasks in work or study adapt own behaviour to cir-cumstances in solving prob-lems

Level 4

The learning outcomes rele-vant to Level 4 are

factual and theoretical knowledge in broad contexts within a field of work or study

a range of cognitive and prac-tical skills required to generate solutions to specific problems in a field of work or study

exercise self-management within the guidelines of work or study contexts that are usu-ally predictable, but are sub-ject to change supervise the routine work of others, taking some responsibility for the evaluation and improvement of work or study activities

Level 5 (*)

The learning outcomes rele-vant to Level 5 are

comprehensive, specialised, factual and theoretical knowledge within a field of work or study and an aware-ness of the boundaries of that knowledge

a comprehensive range of cognitive and practical skills required to develop creative solutions to abstract problems

exercise management and su-pervision in contexts of work or study activities where there is unpredictable change re-view and develop performance of self and others

Level 6 (**)

The learning outcomes rele-vant to Level 6 are

advanced knowledge of a field of work or study, involving a critical understanding of theo-ries and principles

advanced skills, demonstrat-ing mastery and innovation, required to solve complex and unpredictable problems in a specialised field of work or study

manage complex technical or professional activities or pro-jects, taking responsibility for decision making in unpredicta-ble work or study contexts take responsibility for manag-ing professional development of individuals and groups

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The learning outcomes rele-vant to Level 7 are

highly specialised knowledge, some of which is at the fore-front of knowledge in a field of work or study, as the basis for original thinking and/or re-search critical awareness of knowledge issues in a field and at the interface between different fields

specialised problem-solving skills required in research and/or innovation in order to develop new knowledge and procedures and to integrate knowledge from different fields

manage and transform work or study contexts that are com-plex, unpredictable and re-quire new strategic ap-proaches take responsibility for contributing to professional knowledge and practice and/or for reviewing the strategic per-formance of teams

Level 8 (****)

The learning outcomes rele-vant to Level 8 are

knowledge at the most ad-vanced frontier of a field of work or study and at the inter-face between fields

the most advanced and spe-cialised skills and techniques, including synthesis and evalu-ation, required to solve critical problems in research and/or innovation and to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice

demonstrate substantial au-thority, innovation, autonomy, scholarly and professional in-tegrity and sustained commit-ment to the developcommit-ment of new ideas or processes at the forefront of work or study con-texts including research

Compatibility with the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area

The Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area provides descriptors for cycles.

Each cycle descriptor offers a generic statement of typical expectations of achievements and abilities associated with qualifications that represent the end of that cycle.

(*) The descriptor for the higher education short cycle (within or linked to the first cycle), developed by the Joint Quality Initiative as part of the Bologna process, corresponds to the learning outcomes for EQF level 5.

(**) The descriptor for the first cycle in the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area agreed by the minis-ters responsible for higher education at their meeting in Bergen in May 2005 in the framework of the

Bologna process corresponds to the learning outcomes for EQF level 6.

(***) The descriptor for the second cycle in the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area agreed by the ministers responsible for higher education at their meeting in Bergen in May 2005 in the framework of the

Bologna process corresponds to the learning outcomes for EQF level 7.

(****) The descriptor for the third cycle in the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area agreed by the min-isters responsible for higher education at their meeting in Bergen in May 2005 in the framework of the

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