The Business of Video Games – Not just Fun and Games

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What follows is a summary of my experience working through the Game Design and Development specialization.

I’ve been moving at a slow and steady pace since my last update regarding this specialization. However, slow progress is still progress.

I completed the Business of Games and Entrepreneurship and Game Development for Modern Platforms. These are the last courses before the Capstone project in the Game Design and Development Specialization taught by Michigan State University (MSU) media and information faculty.

This specialization, as well as the individual courses, are offered online via Coursera. As the course name suggests, the Business of Game and Entrepreneurship (BGE), focuses on the challenges of forming and funding a game development studio.

This course served as a reality check for me. Several assignments and discussions revolved around researching competitors (SWOT, competitive analysis), setting a production schedule and learning project management tools and tricks.

However, out of all the assignments in BGE, creating a game demo was the most interesting. Though at the time, it seemed out-of-place as the last assignment in BGE, it now makes sense, as it focused on taking interesting features of your game and highlighting those parts in a 30-second video demo—utilizing some of the research to figure out what sets your game apart from the pack. (yay, marketing!)

In Game Development for Modern Platforms, (GDMP) I dived back into working with the Unity 3D game engine.

Essentially the main assignment is to add significant features to a 2D platform game, prep and build it for multiple platforms such as Mac, Windows, as well as mobile devices. I definitely struggled with wanting to include all the things and learned to scale down the scope of this assignment since I only had a week to implement “significant” features. Also, as I worked through the course material, Unity updated which broke a few parts of the game. One update, in particular, removed support for the Unity plugin support for browsers.

After perusing Unity’s documentation and support forums, (seriously, virtual high-five to Unity for good, well-maintained documentation) I managed to work around these issues or it at least shed some light on what changed in the recent updates.

So, What’s Next?

When I started this specialization, it was newly minted on the Coursera platform. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into as I signed up for a 5-course commitment. All I knew was I wanted to learn game development—through software bugs (both with game iterations and the Coursera platform, itself) and WTF moments to get stuff done in a week’s deadline, I’m glad I stuck with it all.

After completing four courses in this specialization, I unlocked the 5th course, the Game Design and Development Capstone. The capstone is project based, a culmination of all the concepts and hands-on application throughout the courses—working from game concept to bringing a game to market.

However, I’m not going to move forward with the capstone just yet. Over the last several months, Coursera implemented new changes on its platform and I’m not too fond of its new layout. So, instead, I’m taking a break from its platform for the time being.

That being said, I’ve learned a lot throughout this experience—even the peer feedback on assignments was helpful (Yay for constructive criticism!). In game dev, we all play some bad iterations of game ideas, and for this, may the Saint of Creative Endeavors forever smile upon us.