Tag Archives: Preschool

TENure

IMPORTANT: What’s that ungodly sound coming through my speakers/headphones? Scroll midway down the post and find the Flash piece called Bouncing Baby Boys. Then click on the bouncing ball to stop the sound effect. Then pop back up here and keep reading.

It Begins

i spoke to some students the Toronto chapter IGDA meeting two weeks ago, and it brought back what a terrible struggle it was to bridge the gap between education and career. Last night, i read this obnoxious sob story by Alistair Jones who just wants to realize his dream: to become a video game designer/writer, except without having to do all that hard stuff like programming or drawing. The article is very very long, so i’ll pull a few choice quotes to sum it up for you:

Boo hoo hoo. Life is hard. Waaaahhh wahhh. Violin music. Why won’t anyone give me a job despite my complete lack of ability? Sob sob sob. Colleges are trying to ruin my life. Why does everyone hate me? It must be the world’s problem, not mine. Sniffle sob. Please give me a job in games, because i’m great at playing games.

Like the students at the IGDA meeting, Alistair makes some bad assumptions that are holding him, and many students, back:

  1. An interest in gaming as a hobby has some bearing on my ability to succeed as a game developer.
  2. Someone will hire me straight out of school (or while i’m in school) as a game designer/writer.
  3. Since i trained in x/y/z, the world owes me a living in that field.
  4. i don’t have to be an expert in any one thing … i can dabble in all aspects of game production and design, and land a job.

Reading Alistair’s article and talking to the guys at the IGDA meeting was painful, because it brought to mind my own struggle, and reminded me that i made the same bad assumptions. i had a lousy time in college, like Alistair, and i moaned about it like a little bitch, like Alistair, with badly-composed prose, like Alistair. i hate Alistair. i hate his article. i see too much of myself in it, and it embarrasses me. But through certain twists of fate, i somehow made it … and perhaps, as he matures and hunkers down and does what needs doing, Alistair will make it too.

Making It

As of this month, i became a ten-year veteran of the video game industry. Ten years ago, in April 2000, i accepted a job at Corus Entertainment making video games for the website of their kids’ station, YTV. (YTV is like the Canadian version of Nickelodeon.)

YTV circa 1999

YTV is famous for its (then) live interstitials hosted by PJs (program jockeys, a take on MTV’s VJs/Video Jockeys). Pictured here, PJ Fresh Phil, who many people still ask me about. Yes, i’ve met him. Yes, he’s still preposterously hip.

And as long as i’m bragging, i want to be clear: i’m not talking about ten years in the industry doing industry-related things, like pushing a mop at a video game studio, or making games in my mom’s basement for a few years. i’ve racked up ten solid years of personally designing and creating actual video games in exchange for money. i’m not positive that the story of how that happened could happen again today, but in case it helps any of you, here it is.

Art School Drop-Out

Coming out of high school, i had not taken art. This was due to a conflict with the Performing Arts program which had eaten up all of my electives. i was a drama major, a budding playwright, and had starred in a few musicals by the time i had graduated. i didn’t take computer courses either, except in my final year. The final project for the senior-level course was a video game. While the course was programming-centric, and i had none of the prerequisites, i slipped in by making the case that game development was multi-disciplinary, and that i should be able to take the course as an artist/animator.

So leaving high school, i had no fine arts training and i had muscled my way into one computers course, with no programming knowledge. Naturally, i decided i wanted to be a computer animator.

Toy Story

Toy Story, released a year earlier, had a big impact on my decision.

i applied to the province’s most prestigious art college, and was accepted into their Art Fundamentals survey course (“art is fun for mentals!” as the students called it). The computer animation program was a post-grad course, and the Animation and Illustration programs were filled with actual talented artists. A month before classes started, they offered me a spot in the Illustration program, because someone wasn’t able to pay his tuition, and i was next in line on their ranked list of portfolios. i took the slot. After four months of growing keenly aware that i was out-leagued by far, far better talent, i dropped out.

Lesson: If you’re in over your head, best to admit it early and switch tracks while the damage is minimal.

Community College (or: When Does the Hurting Stop?)

i slid over to another college almost immediately, and took their computer animation program. This was NOT a prestigious school by any means. Clueless teachers proudly plastered the walls with plagiarized student assignments. The classes were filled with international students who didn’t speak English, and ate up the instructors’ time asking them to slowly, clearly explain rudimentary instructions (“Click file … SAVE. No – not ‘shave’ …. “) i had a lousy time.

The program had one interactive course in Director. i really took to it. Lingo, the scripting language, was simple enough to allow me to make button rollovers and responses, which was almost all i needed to make a simple first-person graphic adventure or puzzle game like MYST. So while most other students struggled with Director, i really had a good time with it. Our final assignment in that class was to make a program that had a title screen with five buttons on it. Each of the five buttons would link to a scene demonstrating a different animation type: tweening, mouse-tracking, straight-ahead, motion path, and i forget. i knew the other students would blow off the assignment and animate a bunch of meaningless circles and triangles around the screen (i was right!), so i made something called Bouncing Baby Boys:


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Get Adobe Flash player

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The school ostensibly had a co-op placement program, but like so many schools, they only had three industry contacts which were quickly exhausted. It was up to the students to find their own placements. i found one on my own in the Durham Board of Education (Durham is a district East of Toronto). The school hired me on contract as a technology tutor. i taught junior kindergarten kids how to use a mouse, i taught fourth-grade kids how to use a word processor, and i taught a sixth-grade gifted class how to make animated movies on the computer.

Kindergarten

Today, kids, we’ll learn how to set page margins and right-justify header text.

When that was over, i returned to the college to cut together my demo reel. i purchased a plane ticket and a pass to SIGgraph (Special Interest Group – Computer Graphics), an international conference in Florida where it was rumoured that big studios like Digital Design, Industrial Light and Magic, and PIXAR would hire graduates. i booked the edit room for three days and hastily began cutting my reel together over the weekend – my flight to SIGGraph left Monday. In the middle of that ordeal, the facilities manager kicked me out of the edit suite because i was no longer a student (my co-op placement had ended the week prior). i remember tearfully appealing to the school president in her office to let me finish cutting my reel. She begrudgingly agreed, but warned me that i was never to return to the school. i haven’t. To this day, i’m careful never to mention the name of that school, in case they ever try to claim me as a success story. Karma, friends.

Lesson: don’t take no for an answer, and don’t leave school without a proper portfolio. That portfolio is why you’re paying the money and spending the time.

BJs for Career Advancement: NOT a Myth

SIGGraph was a bust. i managed to weasel my way into a number of parties, including one at the top of the hotel overlooking Walt Disney World, where i spoke to the VP of Disney’s feature animation department. i realized the entire time that i scored a lot of party tickets because the gay men at the conference wanted a piece of my sweet cherry ass. Absolutely true story. (i didn’t give it up though! Let me repeat that fact for absolute clarity: i was then, and remain today, an ass virgin.) Despite meeting with a number of surprisingly high-ranking (and lascivious) people from various studios, i did not land a job at SIGgraph. And despite the header title of this section, i also did not blow anyone to get those tickets.

Gay boy

This is what they actually mean by “stiff competition”.

Lesson: There is always some legendary conference where desirable companies reportedly hire students. GDC has a career fair. i’m sure there are others. Don’t believe the hype. If you’re really that great, you won’t have to leave home to get noticed. And if your portfolio-fu is weak, you’re not getting a job, no matter how well-connected you make yourself. Unless you give up your man-hymen.

Seething at the Ceeb

i had a few misadventures in Toronto trying to find a job. Please understand that my hastily-slapped-together demo reel was HORRIBLE. i wouldn’t have hired me. i had one meeting at the CBC for a job making props for an unfunny show called Royal Canadian Air Farce, which is Canada’s second most toxic by-product next to pulp and paper mill runoff. They wanted signs and posters created with Adobe Illustrator. i showed the producer my hideous demo reel. He suggested i go to school. i told him i’d already been to school. He said i didn’t know how to use Illustrator. i protested that i DID … i was one of the best in my class. But since my portfolio didn’t contain any of my Illustrator pieces, i didn’t get the job. The guy actually said to me “Well, since your portfolio doesn’t have any Illustrator examples, despite what you say, you don’t know how to use Illustrator.” Not “i don’t THINK you know how to use Illustrator” – just “you DON’T know how to use Illustrator.”

Lesson: Tailor your portfolio samples to the job for which you’re applying. Employers can’t take you at your word.

In another instance, a guy went so far as to show me around the office and introduce me to the employees as someone who was going to start working there soon. He never called me back.

Lesson: Be consistent, follow up, and hold people to their promises. And unless there’s ink on a contract, there’s no such thing as a sure thing.

At a complete loss, i took a few more jobs with the Board of Education. The second job was teaching kids how to make games and mousetrap cars at a technology summer camp. The third was as an on-site technician for TVOntario’s Virtual Classroom project. i did that for a year.

Lesson: Inertia! Don’t be surprised if your first real job continues from the job you took as your college co-op placement. This means you should try your damndest to make your co-op placement as good as possible.

Old teacher

Objects in education tend to stay in education.

Rock Bottom

i was two years out of computer animation school, and i had nothing to show for it but some experience running an NES emulator during recess to distract two elementary school kids with rage issues from beating up the other kids on the playground. i had a number of near-misses, including one freelance job at City TV (a local Toronto teevee station). My college education had not panned out. i decided to admit defeat and try for a University degree. i enrolled at Trent University, and majored in Cultural Studies for one year, paying tuition with the money i’d made at the Board of Education, and my ongoing job as a clerk at a video rental store in my home town. The boss there kept his Adult section stocked with some disproportionately freaky stuff (in spite of the mostly sexually vanilla population), and screened most of it himself in his office in the basement. He was constantly on my case about my clothes not fitting properly – i had gained a ton of weight in college. This, friends – this was the low point for me. This is when i would have written my Alistair-style sob story on Gamasutra.

Lesson: Don’t write an Alistair-style sob story on Gamasutra. You’re low enough already.

Summer came. i had finished my intro courses in University. Since i had already conceded defeat and had taken the status quo measure of attending University, i figured i’d further submit to mundanity and get a summer job planting evergreen trees in a deforested chunk of Northern Ontario. i had heard it was soulless, back-breaking work, plagued with sunburns and black flies. With utter abandon, i started searching the online job site Monster.ca.

Tree Planting

How i (Almost) Spent My Summer Vacation

The Turning Point

That’s where i found it: a job posting for a game developer. i couldn’t believe my eyes. Could NOT believe them. Monster.ca was in its infancy, and was mostly packed with data-entry jobs and jobs selling knives door-to-door. There was never anything like THIS on that site. An actual game developer position. i freaked out.

Monster

Never settle. Take the best damned door-to-door knife sales position you can find.

The job was to use Macromedia Flash to create video games for YTV.com, a kids website. i spent my teen years watching a lot of YTV, and was smitten with their (then) purple, orange and green colour palette. This was too good to be true. A game developer at YTV. i was going insane.

i wrote a cover letter to them. A spazmodic one. An INSANE cover letter. i packed it with as much enthusiasm and passion as i could muster. It was an absolutely deranged cover letter. i attached my resume, and told them i had a demo reel. (You couldn’t run video online then like you could now, so people had to view your demo reel in person. Today, of course, you MUST put your stuff online, or it will likely cost you the interview). Within the week, YTV called me in for an interview.

Lesson: If the job is really, really important to you, it’s alright to show it. Geek out about it. Don’t send a static, staid letter. Do NOT send your form cover letter. Every employer wants to hire someone who really, REALLY wants to work there. Don’t be afraid to go off-book and fly your freak flag a little.

i brought my friend along he day of the interview, and we went shopping for suitable interview clothes that fit my more considerable stature. This was YTV, so i chose an orange T under a loud Hawaiian shirt, a pair of cargo shorts and some sandals. i must have looked like a cartoon character. And really, that was the point.

Lesson: Dress appropriately for your job interview.

Poochie

This is an actual photo of me from March 2000.

i showed them my demo reel at the interview. They weren’t impressed. No one was. It was a terrible reel. They asked me what my favourite show on YTV was. i had my answer ready: Nanalan’. This impressed them.

Lesson: Research the company before the interview.

They asked me if i knew Flash. i didn’t – i knew Director. BUT, the week of the interview, i had downloaded the free 30-day trial of Flash. i completed the 10 tutorials that shipped with the software. i took all the graphics and animations from the Bouncing Babies piece from my college Director course two years earlier, and recreated it in Flash. i showed it to them. It got me the job.

Lesson: Show the employer exactly what they’re looking for.

i remember the phone call vividly. i remember exactly what i said to the woman who hired me. Through elation and tears of joy, i managed “THANK YOU. Thank you SO much. You’ve changed my life.

Programming by the Seat of My Pants

And that’s how i found myself, on day one of my first job in the game development industry ten years ago, sitting at a desk with my own computer, my own phone, and a contract for a $40k annual salary (which, adjusted for inflation, is like a $41k salary). This was at the peak of the dot com collapse. My official title was “Game Developer”. i had not made a single game in all my life. The first day on the job, the producer asked me to create a game for a financial client who wanted kids to learn the value of saving. i built on what i already knew how to do, and built this, my first-ever professionally-produced video game:


[kml_flashembed publishmethod=”static” fversion=”9.0.0″ movie=”http://www.untoldentertainment.com/blog/img/2010_04_20/CoinGame.swf” width=”550″ height=”400″ targetclass=”flashmovie” bgcolor=”#660099″]

Get Adobe Flash player

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The goal is to flip all the coins to “heads”. When you flip a coin, all of the coins in the same row and column are flipped. The game has three difficulty levels with three different animated endings. Art, animation, voice-over and sound effects were all by me, with (i think) a deadline of one week.

i learned on the job. i expanded my skillset with every game they asked me to make. i leaned heavily on the expertise of the more experienced game developer there, and barraged him with questions. He was very patient. He told me later that of all the applicants for the job, i was the only one even remotely qualified, as unqualified as i was. No one else showed them any work that was youthful, kiddy and cartoony. No one else showed the same amount of promise or potential.

Lesson: Be in the right place at the right time, and be very, very lucky.

Peter Parker

Wanna be a superhero? Just get bit by a radioactive spider. How hard is that?

Ten Years After

i built over fifty Flash games at Corus for YTV, Treehouse TV (their preschool brand), WNetwork (their women’s brand), and corporate side-projects like The Big Rip collection of kids’ virtual worlds. i have created games for blind children, and games for deaf children. Ten years since landing that first real industry job, i own my own game development studio. i meet people like those two guys wanting to be hired as game designers/writers, and i read articles like Alistair’s, and i wince. It’s a familiar angst. i knew then, and i affirm now, that to get into this industry, you need to be a skilled at one of two things: art or programming. It’s very unusual to skip the queue, so don’t hold out hope. Instead, devote yourself to being useful or talented at something.

Lesson: Is this really your dream? Do you REALLY want to get into this industry? Then stop whining, stop playing World of Warcraft, and stop cooking up new and impossibly large game designs for RPGs and MMOs. Stop mistaking your notebook full of game ideas with actual completed game projects. Stop confusing game playing with game development. Stop equating your knowledge of games with some mystical birthright creating games.

Nerd

i can name every boss character in every Zelda game. That’s a useful skill. Hire me.

Instead, devote yourself completely to doing whatever it bloody well takes to succeed: that means starting small, and finishing something – then starting slightly larger, and finishing something else. You may not have the luxury of doing that on someone else’s dime as a salaried employee, but i guarantee you won’t get where you’re going unless you translate angst into action.

What’s Wrong with Ontario Colleges? Part 2

This series is called “What’s Wrong with Ontario Colleges?” A number of you have pointed out, on Twitter and elsewhere, that what i’m describing is what’s wrong with all colleges. But now, i want to shine the spotlight on perhaps an unexpected target, and suggest that not only are colleges flawed, but so too are their customers.

Part 2: The Students

In order to discover why Ontario colleges can’t seem to produce workplace-ready graduates for the casual games/rich media content industry, i went deep undercover as a fledgling teacher at a Toronto college that shall remain nameless: Hernando Velasquez School for the Digitally Inclined.

i went to … oh, damn. i just said the name, didn’t i? Unfortunately, the backspace key on my keyboard has been rigged to issue a low-grade electrical shock every time i press it, so i have no choice but to speak to you about this frankly and honestly.

So i completed 200 one-armed push-ups on my knuckles, and then accepted a part-time position at the school. i’m teaching a second-semester Flash course. Owing to my sense of self-preservation, i won’t identify any one student. There’s enough trouble to go around for me to treat the entire student body as one collective asspain. Game Development is the type of program that attracts a certain type of person, and the blame for that is shared by both the institution and its customers.

Everyone Can Get a Job Making Games

Colleges are businesses first and foremost. They need to offer desirable products. The perception is that purchasing their product will provide you with sufficient training to seek and (hopefully) land a position in that field. This is not the stated goal of all colleges, mind you – i remember clearly that when i recommended to Purim College as a member of their advisory panel that they increase their Flash offering to improve their students’ employability, the school’s teacher rep said “oh – we’re not here to get the students jobs. We’re here to facilitate their exploration of their art, of their chosen pursuit.” Yes – that actually happened.

Get out of my education system, you fekkin’ hippies.

But Hernando Velasquez School for the Digitally Inclined is a different story. They proudly proclaim in their literature that 90% of their grads get jobs within the first six months of graduating. Note that they don’t say 90% of their grads get jobs in the industry for which HVSD trained them. They just claim that the students were employed within six months. Now, really, since we all need to get a job doing something, this is actually an alarming stat: Hernando Velasquez is tacitly admitting that 6 months after graduating, 10% of their graduates are either unemployed or dead.

(i suppose a few could be idle rich, but it takes the bite out of my punchline.)

So the college is under pressure to put together an attractive offering in its course calendar. Nothing’s hotter than a job in the oft-heralded video game industry, so colleges across the province (country, world) are now purporting to train students in the video game industry.

Who Applies?

Now, let’s assemble a profile of the average teenaged male in high school to whom this offering might appeal. He’s tall. He’s gawky. He plays video games all the time. He masturbates to the underwear pages in the Sears fliers. He’s not bright enough to be a doctor, or he’d apply for in pre-med. He’s not bright enough to go to University at all, in fact. Ontario high schools are usually streamed, and it’s generally accepted that kids in the upper stream go on to University, and kids who take the lower general-level courses wind up in either college or prison. This is not by rule, but by reputation.

ima make gaymezzors when iz grow’d up!!

So this college-bound gamer has two options to him: he can enroll in the college’s programming course, or he can take their video game development program. Programming likely has grade 12 math prerequisites, and he’s not nearly smart enough for that. The video game program is an art program. So is this guy a fabulous artist? Probably not, or else he’d be taking a fine arts program somewhere. So he’s a gawky, hairy-palmed male gamer with perhaps no remarkable drawing skills and no great ambitions to use his grey matter in post-secondary education. This – THIS is the student who enrolls in the game development course at XYZ college. And THIS is the only type of kid who gets a shot at learning Flash, because we’re not teaching Flash very much in University, and we’re likely glossing over it in college-level programming.

And THIS explains why most of the Flash shops i know are trying to hire, with no luck. As i mentioned in the previous post, it’s a ten-year-old problem.

The No-Fail Generation

There’s another important thing to understand about our game dev program applicant. He hearkens from a generation of kids who, as of the late 1990’s, were unable to fail. It’s true: changes to the high school curriculum brought about by the Ministry of Education forbade teachers from flunking grade nine students. No matter how truant, lazy, or downright dumb a student was, he would sail on straight through the ninth grade. In my experience working as a part-time youth pastor at my church, i found there are even more cracks for these kids to slip through. i’ve known more than a few kids who should be failing, should be held back, but are repeatedly promoted to the next grade by an education system that doesn’t want to bruise their egos. Anecdotally, my friend who works at a major Canadian chain of retailers for young people tells me that when these kids get part-time jobs, screw up, and get fired, it’s an absolute shock to the system. They’ve never failed.

Me fail Burger King? That’s unpossible!

i was invited by colleagues of mine to lecture at a game development program at Blunder College here in Ontario. The course outcome was to complete a Flash game. The class was divided into two groups of about eight students. The students had four months to collectively complete a flip n’ match memory game in Flash. And they were struggling.

Let me just punctuate that for you: it wasn’t one game per student. It was eight students working as a team to complete one game.

They were taking the typical college-level token Flash Actionscript 3 course along side their game dev course, and were swearing a blue streak at what they called an impossible task. A game, they said? A full game in four months with only eight people?? They told me it couldn’t be done.

i told them that for an experienced solo Flash developer, a flip n’ match memory game was the work of a single afternoon. They didn’t believe me. So for the next three hours, i sat down and walked them through the process of building the game from scratch. Along the way, i pointed out all kinds of programming shortcuts they could take, dropped sparkling gems of advice that would speed up their workflow, and built a functioning flip n’ match game before their very eyes.

Or it would have been before their very eyes, if any of them had been watching. For the most part, they futzed around on their computers with other projects, chatted to their friends on Windows Messenger, or surfed the underwear pages of the online Sears catalogue.

One particularly slimy student who had been glued to Facebook for the entire lecture slithered up to me after class and held out his keydrive. Like a greasy lounge lizard trying to pick up a chick in a low-rent bar, he said “Yyyyyeah, uh … do you suppose i could just … put that finished game on my kkkeydrive?”

i had two words for him. The second word was “you”.

He was lucky to escape the room without any poo-flinging.

Playing Games vs. Making Games

This week, i arrived early to teach class. The group has another class before mine in the neighbouring room. That room was blasting with machine gun fire, swearing, and the stench of gym class. All of the students were in there playing games. i wondered where the teacher was. One of the students told me he was a no-show. So, of course, that’s how they decided to spend those three hours – playing games.

Every time there’s the briefest pause during my class when i go to help a flailing student, the monitors light up with Team Fortress 2 and Quake and online web games. So a few weeks ago, i dropped this truth-bomb on them:

Listen, everyone. i know you probably go home to Chatham or Barrie or wherever it is you’re from and brag to your dumb buddies that you play games at school all day, but that’s not why you’re here. You’re in a game development program, not a game playing program. You’re a different breed of person now. You’re behind the scenes, not in front of them. You’re a creator, not a consumer.

It’s like you’re trying to get a job in a cake factory. Cakes are fun and enjoyable and people like to eat them, but a factory job is a factory job like any other. You don’t get a cake factory job to sit around and eat cakes all day. Turn the games off. It’s time to put some blood, sweat and tears into learning how to make cakes.

The cake: with a little actual effort, it’s no lie.

Email: The Insurmountable Challenge

i had to write a mid-term exam for the students. When i asked him to show me the ropes, the guy who teaches the same course to three other classes imparted some advice: the best thing to do, if i want to make sure i get all of their finished tests, is to pass around a keydrive. Whenever a student finishes his exam, you pass him the keydrive and he puts his files on it. i asked why the students couldn’t just email their files. He said that when you ask the students to email their completed exam files to you, there are problems. They type your email address incorrectly, they send you shortcut files as attachments, and they forget to include files.

And my response? Forget it. Not on my watch.

If you can’t competently email an attachment with your name on it, you’re not only going to fail my course, but you’re going to fail life in modern Western civilization. To make sure that everyone knew the score, i told the students in no uncertain terms that i expected a zip file containing their completed exam files with their first initial and last name emailed to me at the correct address. Then i would go down the class list and start checking off names. If i didn’t receive their file, they’d flat-out fail the test.

There’s one exception:

No – i’m just yanking your chain. There are NO exceptions. No email, no mark.

So we actually took 15-20 minutes out of the class to learn how to right-click a folder, add it to a zip file, and attach it to an email. It was embarrassing. i was embarrased.

At break, one of the students piped up to tell me that in another class, their teacher had asked for the same thing – zip files with students’ names on them. He provided a sample naming convention – the teacher’s name was Gord Smith, so he wrote gsmith.zip on the whiteboard as the example.

And what do you think happened? Dear friends, his inbox filled up with multiple files called gsmith.zip.

The Chain of Irresponsibility

i don’t actually blame this all on the students. Somewhere, someone let them down. If these kids don’t know how to use email, it’s not the Colleges’ fault. That burden is squarely on the high schools. So in conclusion, the problem with Ontario Colleges is not the students, but the high schools.

Problem solved.

EXCEPT that i recently had dinner with a high school English teacher. She has to administer the grade 10 standardized testing to her class. In order for her school to score highly on the testing (and it does), she is encouraged by her department head to hand out IEPs – Individualized Education Plans – to students left, right and center. It’s a loophole. With an IEP, any student who wants an extra hour on the standardized test, gets an extra hour on the standardized test. (Make no mistake – the department head can and should be fired for this.)

So the English teacher is no longer able to teach high school English. She has to teach to the standardized test. If you’ve seen the excellent HBO series The Wire, the same shenanigans went down in that show. The burden of standardized testing put on the high schools is the Ministry’s fault.

So the problem with Ontario Colleges, conclusively, is the Ministry of Education.

Please direct all calls and emails to Minister of Education Leona Dombrowsky.

BUT … what about the fact that these teachers are at the mercy of the students’ parents? Everyone in high school gets a passing grade these days, and that’s largely because if you try to give a student less than a passing grade, you find yourself on the phone having to justify your decision to the kid’s parent. i have many friends who are teachers, and the stories they tell about parental interference could curdle your milk. The CBC recently ran a documentary about these people called Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids. You can watch it on their site for free. It talks about, among other things, parents who call up their kids’ places of employment to negotiate their pay raises.

The problem is clearly soccer moms.

In … Conclusion?

i’ve traced the problem with Ontario Colleges through the institution to the students, back to the high schools, up to the Ministry of Education, and back around to the kids’ parents, who demand it be that way in the first place. These parents, to have teenaged kids, were likely born some time in the 60’s. So my penultimate conclusion is that the problem with Ontario Colleges is children of the 60’s.

Because i’m a lousy researcher, the trail runs cold there. If you want to take up the torch, i welcome you to it. Here’s where we left off: what the Hell is wrong with children of the 60’s, and are THEY the reason that nobody in Toronto knows how to make games in Flash?

Discuss.

Eye in the Sky

We created this spot-the-differences game for Sinking Ship Entertainment’s Are We There Yet? World Adventure kids’ travel teevee show.

 
The Sinking Ship team wanted to evoke the feeling of playing  a fun game with your brother, sister or friend on the way to some far-flung destination.  In Eye In The Sky, you and your travel companion stare at the back of two airliner seats trying to find subtle differences.  The differences themselves are randomized across three rounds, with enough differences to spill over into multiple games to encourage repeat plays.

Train Track!

We were approached by Sinking Ship Entertainment to create an eye-spy game for their kids’ travel teevee show Are We There Yet? World Adventure.

Train Track is meant to invoke the feeling of playing a fun game en route to some exciting locale. Players look out the train window trying to spot scenery that fits into a certain category: things that are blue, things that are buildings, etc. The Sinking Ship team made a tough call on the horses and camels, deciding that they were strictly animals and not vehicles. Since the game targets young children, we decided not to make it as meta as it could have been!

Flag Tag

When Sinking Ship Entertainment wanted a game that would appeal to parents and kids for their Are We There Yet? World Adventure travel teevee show, they came to Untold Entertainment.

Working from Sinking Ship’s game designs, we created Flag Tag, a quick quiz game where players have to guess the country in which a given photo was taken. In the bonus round, players must match up country names with their flags. Flag Tag is a “lap activity” – one that the show’s viewers are likely to enjoy with the help of their parents or older siblings.