SIGCSE Preview: Mike Hewner and Game Industry Needs
Next week is SIGCSE 2010, so the sound of scampering feet, practice talks, and impending panic permeates our group here at Georgia Tech. We have something in seven sessions this year. Tom Cortina, Program Co-Chair this year and Conference Co-Chair next year, told me how much trouble we’re causing him, to not have us overlap anywhere. (Barb already discovered that she was double-booked, but got it resolved.)
I thought I’d spend some of my blog posts this week giving previews of talks and sessions that Georgia Tech folk are involved in. I try to be cautious in talking about student work before it gets published. This seems like fair pickings, to talk about their cool work (and to drum up more of an audience!).
Mike Hewner is presenting Friday on “What Game Developers look for in a New Graduate: Interviews and Surveys at One Game Company.” Mike isn’t actually doing his dissertation on game development. Mike really wants to be a computer science teacher at the post-secondary level. He realized that many students coming into College today want to be game developers. So, last summer, he took an internship at a game company, so that he could tell students honestly that he had first-hand experience as a game developer. While he was there, he did the research for this paper.
There are various efforts going on to define what is the core of CS through efforts like concept inventories, e.g., asking teachers what’s important or hard. Mike asked a much more focused question, “For what do game developers get hired?” Know what gets you a job as a game developer? Rather than ask teachers, he asked the people who hire game developers. He used a variant of a Delphi method, to develop an initial list of needs, then to get his respondents to respond to each other and rank the whole list.
In his dissertation work, Mike is actually interested in a much broader question. We know that students are showing less interest in computing careers. Mike is using social psychology to ask the question: How do students become affiliated with computing as a career choice, and how can we influence that affiliation? He’s got a project going on right now that responds in some sense to Maureen Biggers’ paper about Stayers vs. Leavers. Maureen found that people who stayed in computing tended to see it as a broad field, while those who left thought it was just about programming. Mike is trying to see if he can get high school students to broaden their definition of computing, using concept maps to measure that breadth. That’s probably more than I should say about unpublished (actually, ongoing and unfinished!) work. If you want to know more, find Mike at SIGCSE next week.