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Tom Hume

An industrial perspective for you:

I tend to be pretty appalled by the standard of training most graduates have - and graduates are my main experience of academia these days. Third year projects that involved "building a web site", no experience of modern dvelopment practices, and so on. This - along with an innate burning flame of cynicism - leave me sceptical of academia (with a few obvious exceptions ;)).


Hmm, is it the duality then?

I'd agree with the general unemployability of graduates - some can be quite scarily underprepared for the real world. In your shoes I would consider hiring one a risky proposition.

However is that not mixing up concepts: is a university primarily a teaching establishment to prepare people for work, or is it a place of research aiming to expand knowledge? If the former, then many universities are flagging I agree!

That is actually a more modern conceit though.

As places to hold knowledge they still do very well, they just never seem to share that knowledge with industry in a way that industry could latch on to. That's my opinion anyway.

I wonder whether the lack of business skills or practical knowledge in undergraduates leads to an automatic rejection of postgraduate research as well?

Tom Hume

Well yep - I think I have little confidence in university's ability to deliver useful long-term research given that my usual experience of its output is so poor. And whilst I appreciate the two are separate activities, it's difficult to separate out my opinions.


The types of research are perceived as different (even if they aren't) - but I think the main difference is genuinely attitude. Industry wants profit, innovation, product. Research wants funding, creativity, publishing. It's semantics - these three categories ARE the same thing, but both groups look at each other in different ways. However, academia seems to have a more long term or historicised view (what has come before, what can be researched in the future), industry regards things in the present (unconcerned about the background because they need it now. the two are suspicious of each otehr because they appear to have divergent needs, and each also thinks what the other is being taught is either pointless, or blindingly obvious and therefore irrelevant.

That's probably not a fair summary, but here's an example. I go to an event on Second Life. I go to a Second Life presentation. I talk about how the world works in terms of users, and how people come to it through a Games Studies perspective using magic circle theory. Someone else goes on about their company, and how it has done loads of products with big names. I think the executive is a capitalist git. He thinks I'm a bit literary and pointless. Four months later I go to an event he's organising to look at the people there. His avie is in fact there (although he is clearly AFK). Journalists report about the event. They use observations that I've made about the community, but they comment that he organised the thing. The middle ground is in fact, reached by a secondary source.

Personally, I don't think there is a sensible match yet. The last three conferences I've been to have been industry/games mix, and tbh, the industry stuff has been a waste of time. It's either research I know about and is old, or people going on about how successful their company is. Then of course, I get up and tell them why people want to cross gender when they play, and how actually, that's a pretty naturalised thing because 80% of men play females anyway and that's a result of having played women in previous games as a tactical thing not a gendered one... what the hell do they care about that? It certainly isn't going to make them any money...


Also, morality is something that gets stuck in academic craws, and whilst that is equally bad on both sides, it's easy to point the finger at industry with uses low morals + money gain. Serious gaming as an excuse to develop military software is probably least favourite at the moment.

Also, academics are notoriously reclusive and introverted. It's easy to see why they might not respond to anything more collective (business, management, marketing), even though they are often trying to do the latter with notoriously low success. Possibly this is a work ethic thing - when I'm at work, I don't see it as my obligation to go on a course about something relatively irrelevant, whereas the perception about an industry job is that you might do...

Finally, although there is crossover, time is wasted, people are taught 'different' skills, it's not the industry's job to educate people, it's not the academic's job to tell people good working practise, there is an assumption by academics that everyone who goes to university wants to stay in university forever, and by industry professionals that university is simply a gateway, there is divergence. Big divergence. I find the corporate aspects of my job at hte moment genuinely distasteful. I can see how people not in academia find my work genuiely useless. I think it's a mistake to assume that there can be a happy medium. 80% of people in universities learning management techniques doesn't help anyone...

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