The Make Games South Africa Members Bursary

Comments


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    @farsicon you need to work on your pronouns ;) I'm hardly disadvantaged. If we want to get technical I'm the height of privilege.

    To clarify my point. If a student at a tertiary university whose parents are pooling all their resources to get them through a degree. Have made allowances for accommodation, but are struggling to make tuition, because other bursaries have defaulted. There really isn't a chance that that kid is going to have a car, and I am sure they are working their ass off because they appreciate what is being done and sacrificed for them to have the opportunity to study.

    That is the kind of person who such a bursary should be for. Not just someone who fits neatly into our community, but someone who will truly benefit from the support of this community.

    I know a lot of the ideas that people are posting forward are coming from the thoughts of wanting to help, or make sure that this bursary will go to a worthy recipient.

    We have members on the MGSA committee who are well versed in what criteria there should be. And as a member of MGSA who elected that I shall believe in their decision that they make, and hold them accountable for it.

    Offering avenues of opportunity: like bringing them to a monthly meetup, or a paid internship at a studio. That that can choose to accept are good things. But it is possible that they have obligations that prevent them from always doing such things.

    Yes it should go to a worthy candidate, and yes we should check that they are not abusing their support. But must be careful that what we propose supports, and not hinder them!

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    Karuji said:
    @farsicon you need to work on your pronouns ;) I'm hardly disadvantaged. If we want to get technical I'm the height of privilege.
    @Karuji: You're joking right? How did you possibly think I was talking about you?

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    Before @Karuji and @farsicon begin waging a pronoun war (@farsicon I think he wants you to use the English 'one' ) :P. I think this discussion needs a little perspective. I'm a student on the Wits Game Design course and have multiple disadvantaged contemporaries.

    @Karuji really is correct. Attending anything outside of the course should be entirely voluntary. You have to understand that coming from an under privileged background in South Africa is crippling. When you get into university, it's basically impossible to get through.

    To indicate this: first year parking at Wits has about 1200 parking bays. In the first four weeks they probably need around 1600 - there isn't any parking anywhere. By the end of first semester, they need less than 500/600. Now these are kids that have access to cars, a significantly higher financial status than the ones we're talking about providing bursaries for andthey're failing first semester of first year? Imagine what it's like for someone from a rural background? It's almost cruel to tell them they have a chance to pass.

    So they're struggling to even pass university itself and you expect them to attend extra things? I mean, yeah, we all have day jobs, but these type of kids basically have two jobs. The entire day at university and then the entire evening trying to understand everything because they're so far behind everyone that they have to work twice as hard just to pass. One of my class mates probably gets an average of five hours of sleep a night just because he's trying to pass all his subjects.

    Engaging consistently with this community and attending its events is a luxury for a student really - you have to make sacrifices to do it properly. I've attended meet ups the day before exams/essays/ tests - and that's just because I'm lucky enough to have gone to a really good, really expensive school and know I can handle the work. I'm one guy out of 90 students that can afford to do that and I'm at the peak of privilege. Let's not expect someone on the bottom end of the scale to do the same thing?

    @Tuism On your point of whether a rural kid will be able to make it, well that's kind of the point isn't it? That's what the bursary is for. The best game designer I know comes from a rural background: he's barely played any digital or analogue games. You all know me: I'm loud, noisy, always have an opinion, and never shut up - but when this guy speaks about games/ game design, I shut the hell up and do what ever he says. He's on a bursary and I don't even want to think about what my class / games / thoughts would be without this guy.

    Interacting with the community / interning is a great idea - just only in the holidays.

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    @Tuism
    "do you think a rural kid with no access to transport and/or computers will be able to make a game dev bursary work"
    I know it sounds unlikely, but I interviewed two last year. Good kids, who see games as a way to benefit their community (community becomes extremely important in these cases). They are not just interested in games as we often think of them: this is where analogue, mobile and communal play becomes so important. One of the two missed the requirements, and the other declined for funding. Would they be able to make it work? I'm not sure. The gap between the poorer schools and university is massive, and it is the disadvantaged who suffer most for that. Would they give it their all? Yes. Who makes that call? When it comes to admission to the course, we do (Wits). It's a shit process, but we weigh the elements up, look at the kids commitment and ability and try, so very hard, to get it right. And we do it through a lengthy documented and defensible process. I break my heart on admissions every year. Then, for them to have gone through that, be accepted, and not be able to raise the funds is just horrid.

    @Karuji
    "If a student at a tertiary university whose parents are pooling all their resources to get them through a degree. Have made allowances for accommodation, but are struggling to make tuition, because other bursaries have defaulted. There really isn't a chance that that kid is going to have a car, and I am sure they are working their ass off because they appreciate what is being done and sacrificed for them to have the opportunity to study."
    This is far more common than one thinks and stretches well over race lines. I have seen kids break themselves on this. I have seen parents break themselves on this, putting themselves in ridiculous debt to be able to have their kids study.

    I also agree strongly with both of @Elyaradine points. An internship would be a wonderful addition, adding real value for the student. And the value of self-teaching, hard work and external learning should never be underplayed. A degree is a good way, but it is NOT THE ONLY WAY. (I feel like a stuck record on this, but it is really important for us to get kids, and parents, to understand it).

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    I'm not saying attendance is compulsory. I never said it must be ordained.

    I'm only saying that someone passionate about it would want to anyway. And once a month is hardly a massive thing if they are going to class anyway, and also people could help. Someone who doesn't want to attend monthly meetups about the thing that they're passionate about is an indication for me of lack of care.

    But then if they are spending that time working three jobs and juggling life things then sure, of course, I'm not saying someone like that should be excluded, of course :)

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    I think that it's also important to note that @Bensonance and I have faces to put to the situations. So we may get very... passionate about this :P

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    The most important thing, I think, is to at least make sure that candidates are already part of the conversation (physical or online doesn't really matter). Game development is damn difficult to say it lightly, but at the same time that is where the fun is - the frustration, the effort, and eventual sense of achievement. Most people just think it is fun - with no real concept of the challenges involved, and when they attempt it most will just give up right off the bat. The point is, that if people with the money and education problems out of the way are struggling with it, how would someone from that level stay motivated. You're basically setting them up for failure. You have to see it happen to understand just how heart-breaking that is...

    I'm very well aware of how far behind 80% of our population is, and I am very passionate about changing it (in my own small way) - but you cannot go from a level 0 maturity to level 3-4-5 in one leap. There is a natural process to follow - a build-up of knowledge and values from one generation to the next, and it takes time. Will our current generations struggle... yes... and maybe even the next couple of generations, but to attempt to get anything done without getting the basics right first is just misguided.

    We need to focus on the ones who are most likely to succeed. Help our country to build heroes and role models - build up our self worth and pride in a world arena and the next generation of game developers will come in droves. That I can promise you...

    That's just my 5 cents.

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    I personally would like them to have submitted a game/ portfolio of games to qualify for the bursary. This is pretty standard practice for most bursaries to ensure that the course that the student is then in enrolling for is a good fit for them :)

    I might be enthusiastic and keen to make art, but I'm not nearly ready for first year at a varsity, even if someone else is paying for it. You don't want to be putting someone into a situation where they are bound to fail! That's really horrible too.

    About them participating in the forums/meetups, I think that would be nice, but not really enforceable. If the student goes to Wits are we allowed to find out if they pass the course or produce anything fantastic? I'm sure we'd love to promote anything they make here, even if they don't have the time.

    Maybe we can appoint a mentor? That could help them through the whole process from first week at varsity to surviving an internship to growing a beard (or being sad about being incapable of growing a beard)?

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    Why does everyone think I'm talking about enforcement @_@

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    Before @Karuji and @farsicon begin waging a pronoun war (@farsicon I think he wants you to use the English 'one' ) :P. I think this discussion needs a little perspective. I'm a student on the Wits Game Design course and have multiple disadvantaged contemporaries.
    @Ben I was actually thinking of they, although I am a big fan of using one.

    But I kinda went grammar nazi since I sometimes feel that I need to repeat my point from a different angle for people to understand me. And that if I can encourage people to think more seriously about the point they are putting across it can help lead to smoother communications

    @Tuism like my grammar nazing above. This has to deal with how you are phrasing it. Things like "should" imply a level definitiveness to the statement, compare that to something like "would be great if" or "I would highly encourage." They are positive, encouraging, and show that things might not exactly work out as one would like.

    ---

    @dammit lots of cool ideas. I think if we can show them the benefits of community interaction it could really be cool, and in the future an alumni programme to help the new entrants would be great. Also if they are at Wits I am sure Hanli and Ben will do all they can to help them, except growing a beard: we'll have to get Nick for that.

    With regards to promoting them: would this just be inside the community, or would it be to a broader audience. Like it would be rather cool if we could wrangle them some actual exposure in SA if they are intending to make games to help uplift communities.

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    I think that language is an imperfect vehicle of thought, and if someone says something and mean another, I would try and understand what they mean instead of trying to tell them they used the wrong word, because that's quite useless at the end of the day, intentions are the most important. In my opinion.

    I think this now because I used to pick on people's words and then get into fights that could be very easily avoided by a simple "what do you mean" and "did you mean this", then I got to a point where I found them pointless, and moved on :)

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    edited
    Edit... let's just stay on topic...

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    Legally, how much are we actually allowed to know about the person we're giving the bursary to? Don't they have to be one step removed or something to ensure fairness?

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    There are many well established methods of handling bursaries, ensuring fairness, determining whether the candidate is appropriate etc. Most educational institutions have dedicated offices for this (Scholarships and Bursaries Office etc). Any of them could help with setting up appropriate criteria.

    No one is talking about setting kids up for failure. This is about affording the opportunity to learn. I am not prepared to speculate on peoples potential based on their financial circumstances.
    This is why most institutions have extensive systems built in to protect applicants and students, and to determine offers of places on limited number courses. The need for determining this ability at a bursary level would therefor depend on the institution in question.

    I have students who have made it through my selection criteria, been accepted, or are already in the program who would qualify. What would happen is that I would let them know that something like this has become available, and they would apply. The decision then rests on the criteria of MGSA. The criteria therefore has to be absolutely clear and measurable, not based on 'well we see them around at meetings a lot' or 'they post games often'.

    This is why mostly companies rely on the university entrance criteria/ acceptance process, then look only at academic performance and financial need. In the case of the bursary mentioned earlier, they require a psychometric test because it measures aptitude not prior learning. (They have many bursaries in various fields and institutions and they have the money for that level of testing.)

    Are we measuring aptitude in game design or ability to succeed at the given institution for the given program? We should be looking at both. For game design specific programs most of this has already been done by the institution through processes that have to be vetted and are defensible.

    As an example: Here we rely on a three tiered method. Applicants are invited to write a critical essay (they have to be able to construct an argument, engage with the subject and show potential to cope with university level writing), some are chosen to attend and interview (they have to be able to talk about games, what they imagine game creation to be, what they are passionate about and answer a list of questions) if they are applying to do art they are asked to bring a portfolio of drawings, finally we look at their academic records. The essays and interviews have set questions and assessment criteria. We cannot require a portfolio of games, because they have not all had the opportunity to make ones yet, although many of the students bring small digital games, games on scraps of paper, etc. These are great, and obviously help in determining ability, but having made a game at high school in no way correlates to being able to do a degree OR to being any good at game design. As @Bensonance said one of the best students we have hardly had an opportunity to play games, and most certainly never tried to make one. (god I once caught him animating in MS paint with a mouse pad, drawing and saving out frame by frame). But in an interview, if conducted correctly by someone who is experienced and know what they are looking, you can make that call.

    Therefor I would recommend:
    prior acceptance into an known course
    demonstrable financial need
    strong academic record
    interview by committee panel

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    All of which depends on us raising the money in the first place
    :D

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    You know, I feel stupid for thinking that noone else thought of questions like selecting the right candidate and making sure the bursary money enables the right things for the right people/person. All of academia has thought and worked with this much longer than my single brain could ever comprehend :)

    What was I thinking XD

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    @Tuism *now* you are being silly, not before. It's good to ask those questions; it keeps people on their toes ;)

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    I do think that participating in the MGSA community (at least the forum) is really important for anyone that gets a bursary from here? I wish I knew why students didn't participate more - I know I was all over forums when I was at university.

    I'd also be keen on a "one game a month" type of thread for the bursee - but I can see how that might be tricky, not everyone made all of their university projects into games (because they're weird).

    I certainly think that MGSA involvement offers a lot for anyone actually keen on making games in this country - not to mention being a huge storehouse of knowledge and experience that's accessible at the drop of a hat. Why people who're struggling to understand something in a course don't ask bothers the hell out of me.

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    @dislekcia: "Stop being lazy and work it out yourself" was a lecturer response that it took me a long time to unlearn the negative behaviour from, even professionally. It may well be the case with these students.

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    I fully agree that they should be a part of the community. Like the bursary I keep using as an example: he is required to intern over holidays, and to meet with HR to report on his progress.
    This is not only a requirement, it is also a huge draw card. Interning, mentorship and community involvement are the BENEFITS a student would get, not just money to pay.

    Asking for a game a month may be a bit much, since the last thing you want is to pay for someone's studies then have them fail maths (or something) with the bad excuse: I had to finish my bursary game. And even the best of students make sorry excuses.
    It may be better to just require every project to be posted. (easy to do as part of determining the merits of the course - the known institution factor - would be requesting course outlines from the institution)

    @Gazza_N I'm sorry to hear that. That should not ever be how it comes across. When people say that it should be (and I KNOW it's not always) in response to students wanting to be spoon fed. University should prepare you for the real world, not in terms of vocational training, but in terms of how to think and learn. The right way is to say "how have you tried to figure it out? now let me guide you through the thinking process and to how to access that knowledge so that next time you know where to look". The point is that students should be learning when to fight through something, and when to ask. Unfortunately, just as you get lazy students, you also get lazy lecturers who use it as a get-out-of-jail-free card.

    @Tuism Don't be silly! You HAVE to ask those questions. I did. Often, and loudly. It takes years of fighting through what seems like silly bureaucracy before you get what the processes are there to do. (well, for me anyway) (and I swear the system is designed to be ornery)

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    But: We need to raise the money.
    I think that this thread is more than sufficient evidence that our members would support it :D

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    @hanli: Agreed on all points. :) Something to look out for, though - even friendly pushes can be misinterpreted by overanxious students (*cough* <_<).

    Derail over. We now return you to an excellent thread about an excellent idea.

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    hanli said:
    I fully agree that they should be a part of the community. Like the bursary I keep using as an example: he is required to intern over holidays, and to meet with HR to report on his progress.
    This is not only a requirement, it is also a huge draw card. Interning, mentorship and community involvement are the BENEFITS a student would get, not just money to pay.
    That's the thing that confuses me (and makes me believe most students really aren't focused on making games), that benefit is freely available to everyone, but few access it :(
    hanli said:
    Asking for a game a month may be a bit much, since the last thing you want is to pay for someone's studies then have them fail maths (or something) with the bad excuse: I had to finish my bursary game. And even the best of students make sorry excuses.
    It may be better to just require every project to be posted. (easy to do as part of determining the merits of the course - the known institution factor - would be requesting course outlines from the institution)
    Yeah, the focus for me would be on making at least one project you were working on for university into a game at the same time. So if you're doing a maths project and it's on statistics, study dice rolls in D&D. If you're doing a CS project on vision algorithms, make a game that plays pong in 3D using eyes on a paddle. That's the sort of design skill fostering that'll make someone a superstar.

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    dislekcia said:


    That's the thing that confuses me (and makes me believe most students really aren't focused on making games), that benefit is freely available to everyone, but few access it :(
    Mostly, because few people realise they can :) I think we're all working to change that.
    dislekcia said:
    hanli said:
    Asking for a game a month may be a bit much, since the last thing you want is to pay for someone's studies then have them fail maths (or something) with the bad excuse: I had to finish my bursary game. And even the best of students make sorry excuses.
    It may be better to just require every project to be posted. (easy to do as part of determining the merits of the course - the known institution factor - would be requesting course outlines from the institution)
    Yeah, the focus for me would be on making at least one project you were working on for university into a game at the same time. So if you're doing a maths project and it's on statistics, study dice rolls in D&D. If you're doing a CS project on vision algorithms, make a game that plays pong in 3D using eyes on a paddle. That's the sort of design skill fostering that'll make someone a superstar.
    While I love your idea, @dislekcia , I think it's a better route just to say that any game they do make, needs to be shared on the forums. Instead of forcing someone to make games because their bursary requirements say they have to (and I fully believe that forcing someone to do anything will drain any love they have for it), we can all just work on fostering their enthusiasm to the degree that they do that anyway. Wouldn't that be more rewarding?

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    Very cool initiative. I would be willing to be involved in this. Really awesome idea. Count me in!

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    dammit said:
    While I love your idea, @dislekcia , I think it's a better route just to say that any game they do make, needs to be shared on the forums. Instead of forcing someone to make games because their bursary requirements say they have to (and I fully believe that forcing someone to do anything will drain any love they have for it), we can all just work on fostering their enthusiasm to the degree that they do that anyway. Wouldn't that be more rewarding?
    I dunno about this angle. I mean, it seems to be that people make many more games when under deadline pressure to do so. There are many more members here who don't make games unless they've got an external deadline at MGSA than there are members who just kinda keep making games of their own accord. How many games have you made personally outside of jams or competitions?

    All I'm suggesting is that the students learn to practice viewing everything through a game design lens - a paper they write could be a game, or they could come up with a chair-based game during a boring lecture, the scope is pretty endless. The goal is to get those ideas posted here so that people can discus them and EVERYONE can learn.

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    dislekcia said:
    dammit said:
    While I love your idea, @dislekcia , I think it's a better route just to say that any game they do make, needs to be shared on the forums. Instead of forcing someone to make games because their bursary requirements say they have to (and I fully believe that forcing someone to do anything will drain any love they have for it), we can all just work on fostering their enthusiasm to the degree that they do that anyway. Wouldn't that be more rewarding?
    I dunno about this angle. I mean, it seems to be that people make many more games when under deadline pressure to do so. There are many more members here who don't make games unless they've got an external deadline at MGSA than there are members who just kinda keep making games of their own accord. How many games have you made personally outside of jams or competitions?

    All I'm suggesting is that the students learn to practice viewing everything through a game design lens - a paper they write could be a game, or they could come up with a chair-based game during a boring lecture, the scope is pretty endless. The goal is to get those ideas posted here so that people can discus them and EVERYONE can learn.
    Remember, I still have choice about deciding to join those competitions at all. I can choose to make a game at any point, and I could choose to enter any one of the competitions that happened over the last year. But I didn't. Because life. Not because I'm a terrible game designer or I don't have passion. But life, and responsibilities and things happening.

    Again, if they came here and were like hey, I want to be challenged with a comp or deadline every month, then sure, let's go. But they may not be able to cope with that on top of what should be an extensive course load at the university. And no, I don't necessarily think the best route is making them have to make everything they submit a game - their professors in the other courses might not appreciate it and he/she might get lower marks, or struggle because of this arbitrary rule imposed on them.

    The person who gets a bursary still has the right to choose what to do with the rest of their life, even if it's not making games.

    We should be able to inspire them so much that they wouldn't want to do anything else, though. That would be the goal :)

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    Don't game design students make more than one game a month anyways?

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    dammit said:
    We should be able to inspire them so much that they wouldn't want to do anything else, though. That would be the goal :)
    Well, if you have any ideas how to do that, awesome... My point was that deadlines seem to be the single most effective inspirational tool in MGSA's arsenal by several orders of magnitude.

    Also, while it's totally cool that you're signing up for competitions and jams as they fit into your life, you're not signing up for a multi-year bursary to make games being issued by a game development interest group. If anecdotal perspective was all that was required, then my own history is enough to "prove" that this isn't an over the top requirement - I turned university projects into games all the time AND my marks didn't suffer, nor did it matter in the end because hey look a portfolio.

    So, my logic is as follows:
    1. Helping people get to university is good, however there's a problem with current university students actually making games or continuing to make games after they graduate.
    2. This is a significant problem if the MGSA is going to grant a bursary. Other granting institutions demand future work and continuance contracts from students for years after the original bursary period ends I'm assuming we don't want to be like that. (If you accept an engineering bursary, you don't get much choice about what you do with the next few years of your life after university)
    3. So we need a different approach to ensuring that bursary students become active developers. A portfolio is the best thing to help people get into game development, demonstrate their skills, provide points to learn from AND motivate people with feedback.
    4. How do we help someone receiving a bursary build a portfolio of their own? I'm suggesting we use the tools that help people that aren't focused on being game developers 100% of the time build portfolios.

    If my logic sucks, neat, poke it. If the solution to 4 that I'm proposing is crap, neat, suggest others. But I don't think it's helpful to consider the current outputs of courses (as much as I respect @hanli and co) as being the best way to ensure game developers continue making stuff. For one thing, none of the university courses I've seen so far do anything to help people run their own studios or sell their games successfully, that's a significant weakness.

    Maybe a different/better approach to 4 is slotting said bursary student into MGSA-member studios during their holidays to intern. But that's totally being horrible and stealing their holidays, etc...
    Don't game design students make more than one game a month anyways?
    I'd hope so... We have no idea, because none of them seem to post their projects here.

  • Notice: Undefined variable: GuestHourOffset in /home/nitrogen/public_html_mgsatest/forums/themes/mgsa/class.mgsathemehooks.php on line 281
    @dislekcia my point is mostly that i enjoy the jams because they're not enforced. I have choice. Taking choice away from someone doesn't endear them to you.
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