As bad as the Gamecube commercials. The focus should be on people playing with Amiibos together, not the stupid kid and his crush. The kid ruined it.
Who is this commercial aimed for? 13 year olds? It certainly isn’t aimed at everyone.
Is it just me or this year have we seen a lot of super hyped next gen games falling flat really fast? Let’s look at some of the big “next gen” titles the industry was touting. Titanfall was going to be the big game to justify the $500 Xbox One purchase but now I don’t hear anything about it and this story emerged...That might improve people playing it. Trying to make an online only, multiplayer only game is always a risk and games like this should always have an offline mode where you play as bots. I believe Reggie stated that the upcoming Splatoon is going to have offline vs bots mode..Then came Watchdogs which Ubisoft was pushing like the second coming of Jesus and nearly everyone I talked to who played it was so disappointed in it by the time the WiiU version finally came out no one cared anymore. Of course if the WiiU version doesn’t sell well Ubisoft will try to blame Nintendo’s low WiiU install base like they did with ZombiU..And don’t get me started on Destiny aka the Halo sort of MMO. That was also touted as the great next gen game and of course being made by Bungie, so the Halo fans were chomping at the bit to see what they could do. That gets me as well. Say what you will about Miyamoto, each new IP felt like something different. Super Mario Bros. was different from Donkey Kong, Zelda was different than Mario, Pikmin was different from Zelda. Wii Sports was different from Pikmin. But Bungie went from making one sci fi FPS to making another Sci Fi FPS just more MMO-ish..The sad thing is these games still sell well enough in that first month, that the industry just laughs. The game industry really has become like Hollywood. A lot of bad movies can get panned by reviewers but as long as the studio execs get the big numbers that first weekend, that’s all they care about. The movies that are truly good are the ones that stay in the theaters and do well for several weeks..Sadly too many gamers keep buying into the hype machine and slap down that $60 (or more if they bought into the DLC season pass scam) then regret it, but I like how you point out if so many of these modern games were so good, why are so many on used racks at Gamestop. Hardcore gamers love gushing over The Last of Us yet I see tons of used copies of it and you barely get $10 on its trade in, yet first party Nintendo games, even the not so great ones usually get $20 or more on trade in..I wonder how much longer gamers will keep buying into the hype though many have stopped putting any faith in reviews as anything with a massive hype machine automatically gets a 8 or higher. What really gets me is there are still folks wanting to buy a next gen system despite nothing to really justify the purchase yet. My husband wants a PS4 yet hasn’t seen a game that really made him want one, just wanting to get one because “it’s the next phase and eventually we’ll have to.” It’s funny how so many gamers want the WiiU to have games to justify buying it, yet will buy a PS4 or Xbox One just because.
Hype needs to be earned, not manufactured. When a game company has a good track record, like a good author, it is normal for people to be excited about their next product. I’m hyped to see what Nintendo will offer as successor to the 3DS and Wii U for example. However, I am not hyped for Wii U Zelda because of Aonuma’s track record. Manufacturing hype would be someone like Aonuma saying the next Zelda will be like ‘the original Legend of Zelda’ when it is nothing like it. It would be like showing a cool tech demo of Zelda and then the actual game is anime style bizarro weirdness.
Maybe I’m getting long in the years, but it seems we’re seeing a type of Law of Gaming go in effect that the further in time we go, the less value games are having. There are many reasons for this. Computers were once rare. Now, they are everywhere. Video games are no longer as special. But also games lose value so rapidly due to being so dependent on online values.
I find classic games attractive to buy not because of ‘nostalgia’ but because the value is clearly known. You cannot hype a twenty year old game. We know what it is. I’d rather drop $60 into a KNOWN value instead of an UNKNOWN value.
Do people even rent console games anymore? Has that died out? What a shame if so. My ways of gaming, where I’m sure many of you were similar, in that I would rent a ton of games. However, the games I OWNED was about ten. Very, very few games to own. Not all games were worth $50 even back during the ‘golden eras’ of console gaming. Looking back at some of the very few games I owned, I can see why I bought them. Super Mario Brothers 3 is worth owning. So is Final Fantasy I. I remember renting Mega Man 1, thinking it was a good game but very frustrating and uneven, and not thinking it was worth the money. I rented Mega Man 2, got totally blown away, and bought it on the spot and bought Mega Man 3 the day it came out. I bought Mega Man 4 when it came out, got very disappointed, and didn’t buy Mega Man again.
Some of you guys bought a lot more console games back in the day. This is all fine and good. There was a hype industry back then just as there was today. However… looking back, Nintendo Power tried to hype the good games. After twenty five years, we can safely say this. They put Metal Storm on the cover. They put Vice Project Doom on the cover. It didn’t work in selling the games.
Because of the online nature of so many games today, I think that is why there is such a ‘first month rush’ factor. People see their friends playing a game so they have to get involved as well. Hype Industry used to be about AMAZING GRAPHICS or how this new game would CHANGE GAMING IN HOW WE WOULD KNOW IT. But today, hype industry is now a Jones Effect. Your friend Bob is playing Industry Game #224, why are you still playing Industry Game #198? Sadly, Nintendo is trying to get in on this which is what Mii-verse is all about. You see everyone playing a game, and you want to join.
Old Way: Buy a game your friends play because you played it at friend’s house and found game to be fun.
New Way: Buy a game your friends play because you don’t want to be left out. Game quality doesn’t matter.
Hardcore gaming is becoming more like the Fan Tan club of old women gathering to play boring card games not because of the games but because of the company. MMORPGs are already there.
Here is a blast from the past: Rock and Roll Racing for the SNES. It was made by Blizzard before their Warcraft hit. I had fond memories playing it back in the day, however, if you play it today I noticed two things. One, this game feels more like a PC game than a console game (aside from the very bright graphics) due to all the options of being able to turn off the announcer (thank God) and other options. The big thing though is how this game feels more like a RPG than a racing game.
Rock and Roll Racing works in that you are on a series of tracks (Rookie, Veteran, etc.) of about eight tracks that just cycle over and over. Winning gets you more points where you can eventually ‘buy’ your way out into another circuit. The AI is like Super Mario Kart in that there is no rubber band. If you outrace them, you will be far, far ahead of them. But if you buy the upgrades, you are nearly guaranteed to outrace your opponents. Your engine and tires are better so you will be ahead. These upgrades are necessary for greater difficulty tracks. You’ll eventually want to buy the hovercraft or tank to deal with the ice roads at the final track.
Rock and Roll Racing hits those pleasure centers that are related to RPG than racing. I just want to ‘build up’ my car, kick ass, and win. It’s as if Square made a Final Fantasy racing game in a way.
Rock and Roll Racing is moderately expensive for the SNES at around $50. Is it worth it? I don’t think so as a multiplayer game. But there is an addictive quality of taking a little car and just upgrading it. Not sure how many times you can do that until you get bored but then again I still find playthroughs of Final Fantasy IV and VI to be fun every now and then.
With the massive sales of Mario Kart, there is definitely room on the PC for a crazy racer. Did not Activision make a deal with Metallica for a combat vehicle game? As much as I dislike games going 3d (because they don’t fit), racing games are the exception and fit 3d well. A new Rock and Roll Racing for the PC, made by Blizzard, being fully 3d, would be a hit. It would also fit a Free-2-Play model of people buying (or unlocking) new cars and tracks.
This Forbes piece gets it right. GamersGate is a consumer movement created due to a deattached games media that has become hostile to gaming. There is also nothing new here except the game media removing their mask and going totally hostile. For many years, they have been disdainful of gamers and talked down to them. But the outright hostility is what is sparking this. The Zoe Quinn episode was just the spark to an Internet of black powder. Gamers felt this was a problem while the Game media, such as Neogaf’s Evillore’s contemptuous put-downs on anyone who thought this was a problem, just pissed everyone off. The dam has broke.
GamersGate is also winning. BMW has pulled their advertising from Gawker. While the games media keeps calling for ‘calm’ while insulting gamers, some are calling for ‘discussion’ which only happens when they are losing. If they were not losing, they certainly would not be calling for discussion. They never called for discussion years ago, did they? No.
Many are trying to turn this into a Right vs. Left political thing, but it is really about a consumer movement. People have no idea how pissed off the consumers are with gaming. No idea. The Big Clue should have been the Wii revolution itself. DS and Wii didn’t just succeed because of ‘blue ocean’ and ‘expanding the market’, they succeeded because they tapped into being More Than Just Consoles by being a Consumer Movement itself. People who were attracted to the Wii were Not Happy with the Games Industry.
This site has always been Anti-Game Industry and Anti-Game Journalism. It’s long been noted how game journalists would rather be considered an ‘insider’ instead of aligning with their readers/viewers (you know, gamers). It is funny to me to watch people in the game media be so stunned at the pushback they are receiving. They thought this would be like movies or music with little resistance. But enthusiast gaming has the highest concentration of men. Many people are gamers because there is nothing on TV for them to watch, there isn’t much worthwhile going on in movies, and books aren’t as fun as they used to be.
But you and I know that people are not upset over GamersGate because of what the believers of it think and feel. They don’t care what they think or feel. They know they have felt distraught for so long. It is the tactics GamersGate is using that is truly upsetting them. Other people are noticing this too.
At the risk of engaging in some questionable psychoanalysis, allow me to suggest that one of the reasons the left is so disturbed by the rise of #GamerGate is that this is the first time in many years that these self-proclaimed Social Justice Warriors have met any sort of organized pushback. And they find it doubly infuriating to see the tools they have used so successfully—the Twitter mob, the email campaign, the claims of grievance—turned against them.
This is why you see Whedon et al resorting to dull ad hominem. “#GamerGate is a hate group” is an easy slogan, one that can be used to intimidate media outlets trying to give the story fair coverage.
I do admit I am enjoying seeing the Social Justice Warriors type look like they ate a stove with all this unexpected pushback coming at them.
I think I might need to buy a new mouse to play it though. So much fun!
I was someone who didn’t even like FPS aside from some Wolfenstein and a little Doom back in the day. Unreal Tournament attracted me because of…
1) Bots (the bots are very impressive and got you trained to be ready to play multiplayer. Thanks to bots, UT can be played even if no one joins you. Offline FPS for the win!).
2) Rich environments (not just space dungeons. Love the castles, space ships, skyscrapers, the game really sparked the imagination and made you think it had a universe itself).
3) Many ways to play (Many modes like assault, the mutators, and all the weapons made it so you can play the game in so many different ways).
Unreal Tournament is a definite classic. Excuse me while I go play.
I still have a number of these to go through. No more emails on this subject please. Besides, its time we talk about more gaming stuff.
Funny you should post those responses on Computer Science degrees being among the “most regretted”. After reading through the 2-3 emails by the detractors (not sure I could call that college guy who says he found ways to pay off his student bills a “detractor”…he hasn’t graduated yet) and the rest who more or less agreed with it, I noticed a pattern.
1) The guys who made a good living off of their CS degree and didn’t regret it may have been a bit emotionally invested in their field to realize something the others pointed out: they “APPLIED THEMSELVES” in their respective endeavors unlike most of the people whom the others say “regretted” their decision. The second guy who said the article “[contradicted] his circle of experience” is a good example. He himself described how he constantly applied wisdom in searching for career prospects. You won’t find most people doing that. Instead they’ll just go after what appears to be the safest solution out of desperation. In my country, this so happens to be working as a tech support grunt or heading abroad despite having otherwise good degrees (But note: even with the wisdom to consistently “make yourself available”, how long before you manage to be satisfied with what you’re making? You need a good deal of patience, a virtue most people don’t have).
2) Corroborating this is the fact that a couple respondents noted how they didn’t have CS degrees yet were still successful in their programming fields. Why? Proper application of business and career wisdom or “savvy”. I have a friend who hasn’t finished his Computer Engineering classes (yes, involving actual hardware including PCB microprocessing) and yet he’s making a decent living off of website coding. Why? As he himself put it, many starting businesspeople have no idea how to put together PHP, CSS or HTML, so he made himself available (side note: I once learned HTML and CSS simply by visiting websites, which makes me scratch my head at colleges making a living off of teaching it to anybody interested). Again, application of wisdom. But notice: he hasn’t graduated yet.
3) Many also noted how most jobs that look for CS degrees actually don’t involve hard, strict computer science, just grunt work server maintenance or website coding. The Grunt Work aspect is the key. How many people can stand doing this for years? They go into a field with high hopes and end up doing basic grunt work, but that even assumes they are fully capable of performing said grunt work because–well, see below.
4) Here is a more universal and considerably more tragic pattern a few friends (including the one I mentioned above) and I noticed in most universities. One or two emailers noted how a good number of those students have no idea what they want to do in life and so check out the most interesting option to them, or go with the flow and try to break into what they (or their families) believe is the most profitable for them in the short term or even in the long term (“If you graduate from school and get a good job, you’ll live a good life”–how many times have we heard THAT ruse?). But once they actually get down to business in those classes they reveal just how inept they are. Examples:
a) A friend of mine in the food service industry observed how many of his classmates back in college were so lazy they could not even take care of their own kitchen utensils properly, deduce why cooks would put salt in boiling water or determine how long it takes to proof dough EVEN AFTER THE INSTRUCTOR HAS ALREADY EXPLAINED IT IN NOT SO SUBTLE TERMS. Cue well-deserved degrading insults from the teachers. So why are they even in HRM? Simple: they wanted to go work in some foreign hotel or cruise ship and earn good money. How the heck are you going to do that if you can’t even pay attention?
b) I’ve read a few horror stories from IT professionals, including ones from emailers on this website, about how some of these fresh graduates with impressive looking degrees actually have no idea what it takes to maintain servers and company networks, up to and including using routines that could end up slowing down data transfer within the network or mishandling hardware.
c) In my own field (advertising and visual communication) there are a lot of students who–how should I put this? Let’s just say they entered the field thinking it would allow them to “express themselves” only to find that this is COMMERCIAL ART we’re talking about. They kept rambling on and on about “establishment oppression”, “freedom of expression”, “being underground” and other inane things such as wearing long hair and non-sanctioned dress to school. Many of them ended up in unrelated fields or as grunts in some tech support outsourcing company. Still more dropped out or had kids out of wedlock. And as sad as this may be, when I once tried to get some of my own artist friends into my old workplace where I worked as a lead, I discovered to my horror that when push came to shove they couldn’t actually draw a straight line even with all the tools available (they were more familiar with the childlike mentality of seeing characters in a comic book and then copying the “art style”). I was openly embarrassed when our department director approached me and quietly asked if I believed my friends really were that good, because they simply couldn’t deliver at all. Ah, the naivete of youth…
In the end, judging from what I’ve seen and heard from other people, this isn’t restricted to any single field: there are delinquents and drifters out there, even in Computer Science. You’ve pointed out again and again how automation is changing the industries of the world, and as it does so a disproportionate number of students may be entering that field because it’s the last bastion of financial hope for them. The sad truth is they may not even have the faintest clue what to do with their own selves.
It’s not always their fault. Young people are getting fed misinformation from two sources: their parents and from academic establishment. From the academic establishment, the ‘career counselors’ are the opposite of helpful. The parents think that if the kid does what they did in their time, then everything is OK. “Just go get a degree and everything will be OK.” Oh, and here a TON of debt on you.
I can relate to that article and share my own experiences and observations. Those who follow the Computer Science career usually fit into three groups:
1- Those who wish to be “technical gods”, like hackers were portraited in the mid 90s, programing in machine code, obsessing over technical details. These soon realize the whole IT career is more business-related than technical-related and few fulfill their dreams of becoming Computer SCIENTISTS per se.
2- Those who believe Computer Science is a path torwards CG animation and videogame creation. I’ve met a few of those in college. Their souls get crushed rather quickly as reality settles down, usually for reasons you have more than once explained.
3- Those who are technically savvy enough but follow this career due to business potential as opposed to passion. I include myself in this group, as I originally wanted to pursuit moviemaking as a career and was constantly reminded of how much of a dead-end this career would be (I live in Brazil). Living in a underdeveloped country has allowed me to have a midly successful career by taking outsourced IT development jobs, and I can say it pays the bills quite reasonably, but it is far from what I envision for myself.
I guess it’s like the oil business you often talked about, and the paralels you make with the gaming industry: one is a solid career that will provide you what you need to live in a free market society, the other is a dream most have and few pursuit as it requires life skills and knowledge not usually seen in those people who PLAY videogames.
The ones I have seen confuse ‘technology’ to just be ‘computers’. From their vantage point in life, this is true. They see new computer technology and enjoy it. I have to laugh and tell them, “So technology doesn’t come from any other industry?” Like the shale oil revolution, that is a process of various new technologies. But it is not a CONSUMER technology like a computer or video game. There are tons of new technology advancements in medicine all the time. But no, only in ‘computers’ is there technology. I try to point out to them that their microwave has more ‘computer’ in it than the Apollo 11 shuttle. Computers aren’t the only technology. Understanding things like chemistry and pressures of gases and all that is also in high, high demand. The destruction of the space shuttle challenger was due to a gasket.
What bothers me about computer science students is that they tend to think only they deal with ‘technology’, and that everyone else is ‘stupid’ in comparison. It is that arrogance that bothers me.
I’m much too lazy to look through government surveys to see who the polling audience is and cross-reference it with the distribution of people relying on government loans for college/which colleges they go to, but more generally speaking I think it’s that Computer Science degrees are only just now being certified.
Without any oversight from a respectable outside source, which certification brings, a lot of computer science programs are either woefully behind or just more generally inadequate at teaching the basics of what you’d need to actually make a living in the field. The courses will naturally be at least a year or slightly more behind anyway, at even the best of places, but the idea is you stick to core, universally applicable concepts and if new ones pop up you get a professor interested in them to quickly open up another course the following semester or hope your student organizations find out about it and pick up the slack with projects in the meantime. But, even if you fail to do that, most ‘new’ concepts aren’t so radically new that a good student wouldn’t be able to pick them up on his/her own based on knowing the old ones, if a professor just mentions them before or after a class.
Having worked in the field for several years now, between a few different jobs, the degree has largely been meaningless in terms of ascertaining whether the new kid is going to know how to unit test or use our version control properly. At most jobs, if you somehow can’t do the second you’re garbage, can’t even contribute and might even mess things up for everybody by using it wrong, and if you’re not used to doing the first you’re going to be donkeying up the things you submit, which is worse than useless. Then you get the rare kid who must’ve learned solely from some aging man who fancied himself an elite magician since rather than document their contributions with things like input and output and purpose, they’ll leave the oldman “do not touch, you won’t understand it, it’s already fully optimized” comments, which I guess given their age makes them seem more like hipsters. It should be noted that these are all very simple, low level things, but they are also things you probably wanted drilled in from the beginning since they’re day-to-day in the real world. Anybody could technically learn them ‘on the job’, I guess, but why weren’t they drilled as habits from the beginning when that’s exactly what they should be? The good degrees will drill them.
It might also be that the Computer Science blanket is kind of broad and the average college student spends something like 5 years on their degree. I don’t know if this is the case for Computer Science, but let’s imagine the average person at least uses 4 years. Because it’s such a broad degree, you might have a student who took a course on internet security or somesuch in their second year. At the time, the course might’ve been 1 year old and then when they graduate it would be at least 3 years old, which is quite a lot. The idea would be that the concepts you learn in the course would be enough to help you quickly learn any new things that pop up in the field (if the course was good), but it is very true that you have to spend more time keeping up on things on your own time, which might make the initial learning feel obsolete or wasted even if it wasn’t. And if you weren’t interested in the field of security or the internet in general, and the course was required, you might view it as time/money wasted in general, since most CS degrees require the full range of what they cover which, again, is a lot.
The interesting thing about that, is there are trade-school-esque degrees/programs out their for computer science and I can say without a doubt that, from a hiring standpoint, most would view anybody with them as “one tool for one job” or, to put it another way, largely useless as long-term employees or even as employees in general. Any degree program for computer science operating with more focus and more like a trade school creates graduates unable to think or adapt what they’ve learned to different problems or new concepts, so they’re even more stuck with whatever was relevant at the time than the average CS graduate. Or at least that’s the general view I’ve seen where I’ve worked, with the often sited example being their inability to understand algorithms they’ve never seen before, which is painful. It’s like they went to the foreign language classes that drill or teach only specific sentences while most CS graduates went to the ones that teach actual grammar, vocabulary and structure. For some things “sentence drilling” is fine, maybe, but not for CS since it moves much too fast and the last thing you want is to be working with some schmuck constantly saying “that’s not how I learned it in school” or “that wouldn’t work (because I don’t understand it)”.
In the trade schools, computer programming is taught as part of a larger program. Digital Control Systems are taught to those in the oil industry. The person must be equally good with a wrench and programming via a laptop. It’s a new world. The future programmers aren’t going to be nerds in a cubicle except for specialized programmers.
The trend I am seeing… everywhere… is companies getting people to do multiple jobs. You must be an electrician too! You must be a pipe fitter too! You must be all these things! They want these guys to program and do IT too.
I also wonder about the long term future for those who just program. The question I have is: “How much programming do we need?” and “Will programming be made easier over time?” So far, the answer to these two questions is “always more” and “will keep being more complicated” because that has been the trend since the 1970s which is forty years ago. Nothing goes on forever. Eventually, we may not need THAT much programming and programming may begin to become simpler reducing the need for ‘more programmers’. The good trend for computer programming I see in the future isn’t ‘technology’ but automation. Someone has to program the machines. However, I eventually expect that role to disappear in favor of those who know both software and hardware… the person who can do multiple jobs.
I think the idea of assuming the 1990s stereotypical programmer existing forever is a foolish one. Everything changes over time (the Internet wasn’t even known by the masses twenty years ago as example). What people should do is get on the good side of automation. Computer programming, though, is only one part of doing that. You need to get into the hardware as well.
According to his latest post on miiverse he loves what they are doing with the Zelda- Mario Kart 8 DLC coming next month so he wants it to be in his games!
Mario Kart becoming ‘Nintendo Kart’ is not interesting to me. It repels me more from the Kart series. However, this is inevitable because Nintendo has run out of content from the enormous Mario universe. It was the content creating games of SMB 1, 3, World, and to a lesser extent Mario 64, Sunshine, and the Galaxies that created a rich soil for the universe of Mario Kart and Mario sports games and such to thrive. Since Mario games are now NSMB bland affairs, there is nothing new. Soon, we will be seeing Zelda tracks, Metroid, tracks, Kirby tracks, and all other sorts of shit in Mario Kart. Mario Kart is no longer about go-karts, so why should it be about Mario? It is long term brand destruction for short term gains. (For those thinking Metroid tracks would be cool, remember that Metroid is a more ominous and serious atmosphere and no place for turtle shells and banana peel hijinks. Smash couldn’t pull off Metroid environments, why would Kart?)
There is something much worse that bothers me. Why the hell is this presentation being given by Aonuma? Nintendo games were best when no one knew who the hell Shigeru Miyamoto was. I first heard of Miyamoto in the Nintendo Power issue that talked about the making of Super Mario Brothers 3. I thought it was interesting but not relevant. I thought the process of creation, all the hand made maps and all, were much more interesting. Yamauchi was always the true legend at Nintendo. Not Miyamoto and other lesser types.
I am, and always have been, anti-Game God. We don’t need Game Gods. In Nintendo’s golden days, such game announcements would be given by ‘Nintendo’. Not by a ‘developer’. Aonuma, or anyone else, doesn’t matter. Why do they get any spotlight time at all? The attention should be on the game. No one gives a damn who Miyamoto and the rest of these dorks are. We only care about the games. The Internet is not reality. The gaming message forums might care, but the gaming message forums are not the real world.
When you hear an announcement from Retro, you just hear it from Retro or from Nintendo. There is no Game God presence like the Wizard of Oz granting us some ‘gaming gift’. This doesn’t take away from individual achievements. The greater the Game God, the shittier the game.
Do you know when Ultima went to the shitter? When Richard Garriott became a ‘Game God’. Do you know when id went to the shitter? When John Carmack became a ‘Game God’. Do you know when Wing Commander went to the shitter? When Chris Roberts became a ‘Game God’. Do you know when Nintendo went to the shitter? When Miyamoto became a ‘Game God’.
Gaming doesn’t need gods to worship in a top down model. Gaming needs great games that arise from consumer passion in a down to top model.
Here are the responses. They are very interesting:
I do not have a computer science degree but I am a full-time programmer.
Most of the people that do what I do have CS degrees. I am also
disappointed in my career choice and looking at going back to school for
something else like law.
It’s not the money. I earn enough to live comfortably in a nice (but not
huge) house in a nice area while my wife stays at home with our son. The
reason is just that I can’t imagine doing this for the rest of my life.
For one thing I am an ambitious guy. I am 30 and have already hopped
between four different companies since college, always enjoying every
job but leaving to take big bumps in salary. But I am running out of
room to do this. I love my company but there is absolutely nowhere I can
go upward, no new responsibilities I can take on. Here is the key: the
skills that make you a good programmer are not useful for management. So
until my company becomes huge and needs 4 more programmers there is no
chance I can ever transition to leadership. Even if you are great at it,
by nature a programmer is a grunt and likely to stay one.
The other thing is that it takes a very narrow and specialized skill set
and ignores any other talents you might have. I have great attention to
detail, but I am also a good communicator, love speaking in public, and
do enjoy a little activity once in a while. Only the attention to detail
is ever utilized in my job. That can be pretty unfulfilling after a
while. Sitting in a cube all day and not having to talk to anyone gets
to be a drag unless you are the classic geek stereotype.
It’s not really that complicated actually. CS jobs are only glamorous in
the sense that we are sometimes in awe of a Mark Zuckerberg who creates
a fortune just out of the workings of his brain. But think of the “cool
guy” at a party. He might be a doctor, lawyer, carpenter, electrician,
mail man … but never ever the CS major. Even a Mark Zuckerberg has to
buy his coolness. At some point, being that guy can get old.
I wouldn’t go back to school for law. It is interesting how this emailer says that there is comfortable money but there is a ceiling. You can’t rise above being the grunt.
The article seems to stress that student loans are the cause of the great unhappiness.
I’ve done my undergrad very recently (graduated in ’13) and am about to graduate with my Masters in the Spring, but I harbor no regret at this stage. I’ve enjoyed a lot of what I’ve learned (and lamented the rest :P), but with financial aid, being a teaching assistant to get tuition waivers and an income, and financial assistance from back home for fees, I am neither saddled with debt nor regretting choosing this major.
Because programming is easy. Programming is construction, CS is engineering. CS degrees teach you how to build skyscrapers but the paying jobs need you to build sand castles. Not even building sand castles. Digging holes. The only way around this is getting a graduate degree and doing robotics research or something. A major part of the workload is fixing terrible code that was outsourced to some eastern European country that doesn’t exist anymore. The fact that you can easily teach yourself enough code to do typical office work before you graduate high school. It’s almost a guarantee you’ll be surrounded by people that don’t have a degree in CS or even a degree at all. Doing the same job as you. Probably for more money. You’ll be constantly surrounded by the evidence that you could have skipped the whole ordeal and still landed in the same place.
If you aren’t continuing in academia it’s basically pointless. If your goal is just to get a programming job at a cubicle farm, get MS certifications instead of a degree. It’s more specific to the work you’ll be doing, is cheaper to do, and is more valuable to companies than a degree. If they want to be an authorized MS shop they need a certain amount of employees with MCP certs. I forget the exact details of it but it’s basically like a certification for the company, which is useful for consulting firms.
You’ve actually hit that nail on the head on your blog before. It’s basically grunt work of the 21st century. But there’s this weird disconnect because it’s treated like science/engineering, but the work is rote and requires nothing intellectual aside from the specialized knowledge on how to do basic programming. It’s more like a trade. Not to knock trades, it’s just the disconnect from the education and the work. I hate that I went through 4 years of “education” that I hated to get a job I could have done when I was 17. That I hate.
I need a new job.
Malstrom, Malstrom, Malstrom.
It’s an interesting survey, but unfortunately there are some flaws in it.First and foremost, if you actually read the study (you did read it, didn’t you?), it specifically says:The sample sizes by any one major are too small to yield statistically valid results, so particular caution should be taken in estimating the perceived value of any single field or major.Note that there were only 560 respondents. Only about 37 of those were “Computer/Information Science” majors. That’s not statistically significant, sir! That could be the size of one graduating class at one community college. For comparison, about the same number considered their field “Engineering” and only about 10 people were in the “Physical Sciences/Math” field.
Second, the fields themselves are broad and don’t say anything specific about any one major or occupation. For example, how many of the 10 “Physical Sciences/Math” respondents majored in Chemistry? It’s possible that none of them did. We just don’t know. Likewise, how many of the 37 “Computer/Information Science” respondents were CS majors? We don’t know. This is important because CS majors typically earn more than IT majors. For example, this Rasmussen College prepared chart comparing median salaries for common CS/IT jobs suggests that CS degrees will get you somewhere between $15-30k more per year than IT degrees, and likely a lot more for new graduates. For that reason I would think computer programmers would be much more likely than technical support specialists to say the benefits of education outweigh the costs.
Third – this is a little bit of a nitpick, admittedly – saying that the study says “Computer Science degrees are the most regretted” is not entirely accurate. The results published on the Washington Examiner article you linked only tell part of the answers to the question that was asked, so it is a little bit misleading. Here is the question with all of the answers:Overall, how would you say the lifetime financial benefits of your most recent educational program compare to the lifetime financial costs to you of this education?1. Much larger financial benefits than costs
2. Somewhat larger financial benefits than costs
3. About same financial benefits and costs
4. Somewhat smaller financial benefits than costs
5. Much smaller financial benefits than costsThe Examiner articles only compared responses of 1 and 2. If you look at the results, more respondents in the “Humanities” field answered 4 or 5 (costs outweigh benefits) than those of the “Computer/Information Science” fields. Also, the many of the latter respondents answered 3 (about the same). Does that mean they regret the decision? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on other factors such as job enjoyment.In the end I would still say it a little surprising that CS/IT is so low. I would be curious how that category actually breaks down between CS and IT since I think the IT portion could be skewing the results. I also think it is interesting that “Law” respondents were the most highly polarized.Full Disclosure: I have degrees in both “Physical Sciences/Math” and “Computer/Information Sciences” – two of the categories with the highest rate of “costs outweigh the benefits”!
As a disclaimer, I’m not a real CS student, it is just my applied field, so take everything with a grain of salt. With that out of the way, let me say that I hated my CS classes with passion.
It is a mind-numbing exercise in just memorising useless information. Let’s take the “Algorithms” class as an example; from the sound of it I would have thought it’s about designing and analysing algorithms, putting them to use and coming up with new ones. Because that’s what I would expect a computer scientist to be able to do. But no, instead it was all about memorising a ton of algorithms and their complexity and then applying them manually.
That is complete bullshit. I am a man who likes to get his hands dirty, to make something, not engage in a circle-jerk with nerds. Memorising algorithms and doing them by hand may have been relevant a hundred years ago when “computers” were actual people, but today we have machines or this sort of thing. I should be trained to instruct the machine to perform the task for me, not do it myself. Of course I understand that being able to do the algorithm manually is a prerequisite to understanding how and why it works, but you can literally pass the exams just through memorising without understanding a thing.
In the real world an algorithm is something I look up in a textbook, I evaluate it against other algorithms and then I write an implementation. There, done. Do you learn any of that in classes? Of course not. I am not exaggerating or trying to be funny or edgy when I say that I skipped classes and learned from Wikipedia instead. I’m serious, that’s what I actually did. Wikipedia was better written and better structured than any class I’ve taken and it was much faster.
The programming part was complete garbage. We had an introduction into Java and that was basically it (you probably learn more later on, but come on). I don’t know if you’re a programmer, so let me explain: Java is a neat language, but it is a language that does a lot of things “automagically” for the programmer, it just works somehow. That’s not a bad thing by itself, but for starting out it is disastrous, because it obfuscates how the computer works. After all, a computer is just a machine, there isn’t anything magic about it, it’s just electricity running through wires and switches. I strongly believe that in order to use a tool you must understand your tool.
Earlier this year I came across a recommendation for a book called “Code: the hidden language of computer hardware and software”, it’s basically a book about how computers work. However, instead of taking the approach for idiots with all the usual abstractions, the author treats the reader like an intelligent person: it is all explained in realistic terms, from the electrical engineering and the mathematical perspective. The book is clearly written as a casual introduction rather than an academic textbook, but it never dumbs down the content and by the end of it you will actually know how the parts inside a computer work.
I’m not affiliated with the author in any way, I just want to explain what I was missing. All this obfuscation and mystification is not doing anyone a favour. Let me get my hands dirty, let me cruise the blank wires, let me touch the individual bytes. Sure, I will create a memory leak or try to read an array beyond its range, but that’s how I learn. If I cannot make these mistakes when it’s apparent, then I will make them when it’s obfuscated and wonder why nothing works.
So here is what I did: after I got all the classes I needed I got a bunch of proper books from the library. The book “The C Programming language” by Kernighan and Ritchie is a masterpiece that teaches you a real language. Then I went and looked for problems to solve and challenged myself to find solutions. Within a year I have now reached the level that I can read master-grade C code. I can’t write it myself from scratch of course, but that will come with practice. Now imagine that someone had wasted years and even taken a student loan, just to find out that he or she could have just taught him- or herself all this in less time from a good selection of books instead, and you get an idea why people would regret taking picking CS.
Of course there are exceptions: there was one class I attended that was tolerable, but even then the exam was just memorising algorithms. Maybe it’s just me, maybe my university sucks, but that’s at least why *I* was disappointed. I am not trying to be like a kid who thinks math is stupid because he doesn’t get it, to the contrary, I find the field fascinating and I do want to learn it, but taking CS classes won’t get me anywhere. It’s better to just download the PDFs instead, they are publicly available and you can read them anywhere. I was reading the books while doing cardio at the gym.
I work as a software developer, though I don’t have a CS degree. I think there are several things I see in developers who have the degree:1. An awful lot of CSes do programming work that really has nothing whatsoever to with computer science. In a CS degree, you learn about algorithms, operating systems, and all kinds of neat stuff. In the real world, you’re fixing bugs in database code or maintaining a license server.
2. A lot of the programmers you work side-by-side with don’t have CS degrees, and the fact is a lot of CS stuff can be easy learned by anyone with a solid foundation in mathematics.
3. A shocking number of CS programs don’t teach coding. They teach about algorithms and whatnot, but the students actually write very little code. These schools—which include a number of flagship state universities—really screw their students.
CSes still do well financially, I think there’s just a huge disconnect between what many CS departments teach and what skills their graduates actually need.
The short answer is that a lot of people went into computer science because everybody said it was the future, but then they couldn’t hold a job in that field because they were bad and ended up working in a bakery or became bus drivers. Basically, they ended up with the same options people with Humanities degrees had, with the additional broken promise of a good job. I think a lot of students default to computer science when they don’t know what to do because they know they need a useful degree but they can’t handle engineering, law or accounting. What they don’t know is that once they hit the market, they will be thrown out very fast if they can’t perform.I studied in mechanical engineering and history before going into computer science and it had by far the most amount of people who did not care at all about their chosen field. They were also incredibly bad. I met quite a few people who somehow managed to graduate and could not even write the most basic code.
Ha!That was my reaction when I saw your article. Who were the respondents? Maybe they were intentionally being misleading so as to deter others from entering the field? Computer Science loves to teach game theory and all.I couldn’t be happier with my decision in that regard – I feel the computer science university education I received (although grueling, sometimes requiring up to 120 hours of work in a week), genuinely made me a “problem solver” and that, at least for anything tech/engineering related, there really is no problem Ican’t solve, it’s just a matter of time. For my age, I have a top salary for a W2 employee, the work is varied and engaging, and I am bombarded with lucrative offers from recruiters I’ve never met… I also have been involved with hiring for my companies (interviewing candidates) and in general it’s difficult to find good candidates (we had an open req for months).
One plausible explanation I can think of is that companies are desperate for good talent, and the cliff between mediocre and good seems to be pretty tall. And there were a lot of drop-outs in my undergrad (pretty much all the friends I made in my first two years of undergrad didn’t make it to years 3 and 4). Companies are also desperate for good “veteran”, experienced talent as well… but you cannot obtain this simply through tenure alone. You have to be constantly growing in your skill and knowledge set, and your growth in that regard needs to be commensurate with those years of experience. But on the other hand, I don’t buy this explanation with respect to the article because there are a ton of opportunities all around even for new entrants. The catch might be that the pay for the entry-level isn’t anything outstanding, and maybe new graduates had a higher expectation right off the bat?
Another possibility: post-grad Csci degrees? In general private sector companies (unless scientific research) generally aren’t too enthused about those. They really aren’t a difference maker in terms of identifying a quality employee who can deliver a product, and often the candidates I’ve interviewed with these degrees exhibit undesirable traits in terms of working in a team-based collaborative environment… so I would have a hard time justifying the costs of a graduate degree…
I saw in the comments of that article a lot of posters were talking about offshore workers…. at least in my market (Minneapolis), that is an old trend and has been reversing the other way. All the companies I’ve worked for have gone down the offshore contracting thing in the past (circa 2006-2012) and have learned the wisdom in the saying “you get what you pay for”. It doesn’t really matter where they live, if you want a sustaining quality product, you’re not going to magically get that just because someone has a cheaper rate. There are more expensive rates overseas as well… and well, you get what you pay for. The proposition then reduces down to what advantages you get by having local employees vs remote (in person collaboration provides a lot of advantages especially in fast-paced dynamic environments… an environment which behooves a tech company).
Anyway, I found the results quite baffling and quite opposite of my circle of experience!
Master Malstrom,I’ve been programming computers since I was six and was making too much money in the software industry at the age of twelve at least compared to what other twelve years old children were making, assuming they had any employment. I have worked in almost all of the disciplines at one time or another functioning in rolls of development, quality, release and management. I’m stating this not to show off or anything, but in the event you add this information to the public forum of your blog to help give my perspective of what I am adding to your conversation.It is understandable for anyone outside of the software industry to not understand what is going on inside of it. At a fundamental level I believe most people should be able to comprehend at least the basic concepts of building a house, mining for precious minerals or drilling for oil. There is a lot of math and science involved in these fields that will only be understood by members of those communities that the average person will not understand. It is my belief that they are for all intents and purposes well understood and typically regulated. I don’t want to insinuate that things go according to plan all of the time or that nobody is doing it wrong, only to postulate that the bulk of these business exercises are well understood, carry measurable risk and anyone in those fields that know what they are doing at a certain pay grade is making decisions that impact not only the bottom line but also the health and safety of employees and potentially members of the community.
While it is certainly possible for a person to start digging underground looking for precious minerals or oil under there property there are several things that are likely to stop this individual from getting started. First, digging underground is just not a natural exercise for most humans. The average person has no understanding of tunnels, support structures necessary for underground or the sheer effort involved to take on this level of work. The amount of material underneath our feet is measurable, but the vast amount of it essentially has no value to the average person and they also have no idea how to locate the precious materials.
Construction on the other hand is certainly something a lot of people participate in. It’s relatively easy to hammer some 2×4’s together and construct a shed, dog house or something else. In most areas building a small structure isn’t regulated because the health and safety issues are minimal. It’s pretty hard to build a home or garage without anybody noticing and you’ll quickly have inspectors coming by, zoning board hearings and all sorts of other headaches.
At a high level these activities have fundamental hurdles necessary to pass in order to undertake the tasks on any scale and to extract any value. There is a reason they are regulated, expensive and difficult jobs.
The barrier for writing software on the other hand is at an all time low and every few months it gets easier to enter. As a society it is almost a necessity to have a phone and these days anybody can write programs on there phone if they are so inclined. If you don’t have access to a phone you still have the option of going to internet cafe’s, the library or any other place that will grant you free public access to computing resources. It is a trivial exercise to both get access to a computer and to access information about how to program it.
The exciting and depressing thing about software development is that while there are disciplines for it, there isn’t really a playbook that anybody follows. When you start writing a program unless you have the inclination to write a design document you can start piecing things together anywhere. Imagine if during construction of a garage your contractor decided to build the roof first and then realized that he forgot to pour a foundation. You’d probably think this person was crazy and would definitely fire the contractor on the spot and then sue this person. In software this happens all of the time. It requires a massive amount of effort to tear everything down and start from scratch only to find out that yes you got the foundation in place this time but you didn’t put any doors in place.
To give you another example of the types of issues that software hits, let’s use the BP oil spill as an example. At the end of the day there was a business decision to drill and somebody signed off on the risks involved. Although it’s possible that information was missing or even something incalculable went wrong that couldn’t have been factored in, it was still at the end of the day a business decision to go forward. Security issues in software are comparable to oil spills except that where you can mathematically calculate risks for an oil spill and cover them in your bottom line, security issues in software are definitely out there and nobody is taking them into consideration. Security issues are almost always hidden and they will get exposed at some point causing untold damage to the customers, employees and company.
Developing new software these days is almost like mining except there is no formula to figure out when you’ve struck gold. Every new software development is just a chance to strike gold. There are even countless cases of software striking gold only to be quickly run into the ground due to mismanagement of the business. How many times do you have to develop something new to strike gold though? It is mind boggling to consider just how much energy is invested into software only to result in such a broad amount of failure.
Given all of these issues, people still go off to write their own software. Heck you don’t even need a degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering to get started. You just need a computer and the interest to tinker with it.
A last issue with software I’d like to point out is that most people think that developing software is 90% of the problem. Once you’ve got a finished product you’re maybe 10% of the way done. There is so much testing, marketing, releasing, management and all of the other things that make up a successful product that people often miss out on. I’ll be honest, none of this is magical but many people think it is. Personally I feel it is important for Computer Science majors to study other fields because often what is applicable to another field really is applicable to Computer Science.
That was probably too much preamble, but I think I can help illustrate why Computer Scientists regret there decision to get their degree.
1) A Computer Science major is competing in the job market for a job where the degree might not matter as much as experience. Anybody can and will start writing code. While the degree hopefully imparts a level of maturity in documentation and design most Computer Science majors will still balk at doing this work when required. To some degree what is the point? If everybody else is writing garbage code why should they be held to a higher standard?
2) A Computer Science major is competing in the job market for a job where often the location does not or should not matter. Companies are often more than happy to hand off work to China, India, Brazil or any other country for two reasons. The first reason is fairly self evident which is cost because often the cost of a developer in a country outside of the US/EU is cheaper. The second reason is much less known but makes sense, a business will hire individuals in another country to get government contracts which stipulate a minimum number of employees within their country.
3) A Computer Science major will want to get the cool jobs. Developing new software is seen as cool but the vast majority of the work is actually maintaining or fixing somebody else’s broken down garbage code. The same person who wrote the garbage software in the first place is already out developing new code without a design. Given the current state of things the average Computer Science major will never be out of the maintenance flow, and by the time they are in a position to actually make a difference they’ve probably picked up so many bad habits that they are arguably no better than the person they wish to replace.
4) A Computer Science major who actually gets to work on the front line and do something cool is often going to be working at a start up. This often entails 60+ hour work weeks but for a salaried pay. In this situation they will literally be making 50-100% less money because they will never get paid overtime, and the chances of the company striking gold are so low that at best they can add their work experience to their resume and move on.
Now that we’ve rained on the parade, I’d like to give some advice.
1) While software development is technically global, it is often in your best interest to be willing to relocate to where the work is. Any hiring manager will be far more interested in a candidate that they can walk over to and say “we have a problem”. Don’t preemptively move, but if you are able to move even remotely close it really is a good thing for you and the business.
2) Find ways to differentiate yourself from the other employees. There is a mountain of open source projects out there and it is very easy to get involved in many of the communities. Yes you’ll be giving up your time for free but this will give your potential employer a view into how you interact with other people in a public forum, they will be able to see what level of coding skills you exhibit and they will have the ability to talk more directly about your experiences.
3) Stay relevant. All those classes in school were great, but you need to keep up with the cutting edge technology. College can be far too academic for it’s own good sometimes, so remember those ivory tower lessons might be the goal but you’ll still have to live in reality as you try and help people get there.
4) You cannot fix everything. Yes it’s possible to go off and rewrite all that junk code, but there is too much of it and you’ll never ever catch up. Focus on the real problems that are in your way and that will allow you to make slow, consistent and steady progress.
5) Study task management and learn how to prioritize work. Often in software development, management will think a lot of effort is free. This is not the case, you’ll need to learn how to manage your time and work with others to make sure you take things off your plate as new work comes in. Or you can learn to enjoy those 60+ hour work weeks.
6) Fresh out of college don’t be looking to make a name for yourself. Definitely track your progress so that during review time you can specify exactly what you did to meet your goals and objectives. Keep an eye on how you can self promote at this time regarding how you impacted the bottom line.
7) Take advantage of any corporate training, college training reimbursements and such. This will make you more valuable to your current employer and any future employers.
8) Your first job is likely to bend you over the barrel financially. Seriously just get the first year or two of employment out of the way. Experience often trumps all and having a degree is still important.
9) Know what your worth. Check websites like glass door and others to find out what you ought to be making. If they are not going to give you what you want monetarily try and negotiate for additional vacation days, hiring bonus, stocks or anything else you can get.
10) Don’t be afraid to start a business and contract yourself out. Sure you can go through a contracting agency, but they’ll be skimming off the top. Having your own business will also give you valuable experience in operating portions of a business and if it happens to take off you can bring other people in to work with you.
Hello Master Malstrom,
I’m a software engineer by trade, and I can definitely understand the regret that many CS graduates are dealing with.
For many years, computer science was seen as a “sure thing” career for people. And, as such, college classrooms were packed with people who entered the trade for a big payday.
That said, though, programming is kind of a dead-end career if you’re not savvy within the business world. The hours are long, and many programmers tend to let their talents stagnate since they “did their time” and tend to focus on languages they’re comfortable with.
The successful software engineers are movers and shakers. They talk, they network, and they jump ship once a better opportunity arises. Those who can’t fit into this world get left in the dust, collecting a pittance of about $40,000 a year while griping about how they’re “worth so much more” thanks to those estimates on sites like GlassDoor.com or Monster.
What GlassDoor and Monster don’t tell people, is that these crazy salaries only go to the ones who move. The ones who put in the work <em>outside</em> of work, to get things done. And those who get things done, tend to have talents that people don’t learn in Comp Sci lectures.
It’s why I started reading business literature in my spare time, and why I’m playing with some private ventures in my free time. Nothing noteworthy yet, but I continue to experiment, build, and network with the hopes that someday I can be one of those people who gets away from the “benevolent master” relationship that so many programmers get locked into.
I guess that whole Japanese modesty thing was a myth. Yes Sakurai, the people not shelling out 60 bucks, plus whatever the going rate for a WiiU or 3DS is now, for a prettied up version of something released over a decade ago are the babies. Melee was a game I was willing to get at midnight because it was just so much better than the first one, but now I doubt I’d even play this for more than an hour at a friend’s place. What do you wanna bet all this belly-aching is because the game underperformed?
It’s really about what Sakurai doesn’t want to say. And what he doesn’t want to say is that the game was rushed.