Thursday, January 27, 2011

Games Development: A poster child for learning maths at school?

I catch the train to work most mornings. I get so much screen time every day I often like to zone out on the way to work. Driving, avoiding pedestrians and other cars cuts into my zone out time. The train works for me. I don't have to concentrate. I can look out the window, watch people and occasionally eavesdrops on some conversations people are having on the train. Yes, I'm kind of a sticky beak.

The other morning I was largely alone in my section of the train. I was joined at the next stop by half-a-dozen teenage guys in school uniform on their way to school. In fairly typical teenage boy fashion they were talking loud, all pumped in the presence of their mates and talking about people they went to school with.

After several topic changes which I couldn't follow (I don't think I'm across even half of what is 'street' these days) they settled on a conversation about how much maths sucks.

Bigfoot zitty kid : "Maths is so lame. You never use that crap. Like algebra.. what are you going to ever use that for?"

Sporty kid : "Yeah my dad reckons he's never used maths since he learned it, it's stupid - why do they even teach stuff like calculus. When the hell would you ever use that?"

Nods of agreement all around.

I didn't find it particularly surprising. In fact, I'm pretty sure I had a conversation just like that around the age of 15.

What I did find ironic was the next topic of the conversation I was sneaky beaking on. They started talking about video games, and how cool it would be to make them. It struck me as ironic, because right there in front of them was a profession that actually used maths, and potentially quite heavily, to actually do things that are interesting to this demographic. It occurred to me right then - that Games Development is quite possibly the perfect poster child career for demonstrating to kids what value you might actually get from learning maths.

Modern games are using plenty of math. Every interaction on the screen is a cascade of vectors, linear algebra and geometry. You've often got some Newtonian Physics thrown in there for good measure too.

I wanted to interject, but I resisted. I didn't want to blow my cover as the zoned out guy in the corner, I wanted to hear about what games they enjoyed playing.

Chris K.

No comments:

Post a Comment