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GCG Feature: 'The Teaching Game: Part One - Transitioning'

In this latest feature for Game Career Guide, Steve Swink, independent game designer, former Neversoft artist and current Art Institute of Phoenix game and level design teacher
June 28, 2007
In this latest feature for Gamasutra sister educational website Game Career Guide, Steve Swink, independent game designer, artist who worked for Tremor Entertainment, Neversoft and currently teaches game and level design at the Art Institute of Phoenix, addresses the transition from industry to teaching. In this excerpt, Swink talks about the benefits of working at a smaller independent game studio, and also speaks to the satisfaction he draws from teaching rather than developing games himself: “What is exciting about working at a small, independent company is the sense that I'm in the driver's seat. If I'm working on a project, it's my dream. I'm not toiling away in a dank quarry, hauling blocks across miles of boiling sand to build someone else's pyramid. If you're going to grind your life away in a masochistic profession - and make no mistake, game development is unadulterated masochism - I say to you this: make it mean something. Spend your life making meaning. Create things that excite you, which get you out of bed early in the morning and keep you up late at night. Create experiences that will set minds on fire and inspire, in turn, to create experiences for others. We all have a reason for wanting to create games and, at some level, it boils down to an experience we had playing someone else's creation, their dream. What was that game for you? Think of that experience. Now, imagine giving that experience to someone else. There's just no excuse for hunching over a keyboard 80 hours a week, forgoing health, hygiene, socialization, and everything else a balanced life needs, to squeeze out something you don't believe in. A paycheck is not a paycheck. Don't drink the Koolaid. Eject!” He adds later why he feels that his true calling is to teach: “I must say, it's been one of the most rewarding, fulfilling, and enjoyable experiences of my life. There is Yiddish word, naches, "pride from the accomplishment of a child or mentee" which synopsizes the feeling nicely. Many of my students have graduated and gotten awesome jobs. This fills me with a sense of satisfaction, purpose, and meaning I've rarely known. Two were recently hired (out of school, mind you) to work on Warhammer Online (one as character artist, no less!) There's nothing quite like the feeling of watching them get their dream job, of having helped them on their way to that success. I think that no matter what I do or where I go, I'll always want to be teaching.” You can now read the entire feature, including more from Swink on his move from game developer to educator (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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