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Harvard On Programming – Your Intro to Game Development During The Quarantine

Intro to Game Development for free at Harvard. If you have programming notions, you can start your Introduction to Game Development right now.

I am a huge edX nerd, which is by far my favorite online learning platform, that could be best described as a Netflix for college classes. I just enjoy nourishing my thirst for knowledge from time to time, so I am always searching out of curiosity for topics that step far away from the limits of my comfort zone and that differ wildly from my regular field of expertise. If anything shows up and deeply triggers my desire to learn, I’m on it!

For the past months, I have been particularly interested in finding courses that cover the subject of video games, so I kept an eye out for thematically related content. Surprisingly, to my amazement, a course on “Introduction to Game Development” appeared just this week and instantly grabbed my attention. Ideally, I would like to dedicate some moments to properly examine it to its whole extension before giving a final trustworthy verdict and my personal recommendation – however, punctuality is key. In such wise, I am letting Harvard and Yale’s reputations speak for themselves. I am instead giving you my first impressions from a few initial classes and letting you check it out for yourself.

The main reason I can’t just make up some quick review is because it is a time consuming activity, loaded with content and activities. I am guessing it has about 25 hours of lectures, each one with a handful of notes to read and homework assignments to practice. In the best case scenario, if you start early it can be comfortably spread out during the six months time limit. Personally, as part of my workflow and creative process, I am not aiming for expending on certification right away and I am just enjoying some free content, taking things slow on my own rhythm, while trying to make everything fit on my already busy schedule. On the other hand, if you want to jump heads first to get your hands on that paid certificate as soon as possible, you should start as soon as you can, in order to finish your final project in time.

If you have previous programming notions, you can start in “Introduction to Game Development” right away. Unfortunately, for me, I am still in need of basic formation, so I had to step back a few spaces and take a look at “Introduction to Computer Science”. From what I watched so far both disciplines are far from being boring old men’s sermons filled with napping indulcing academic mumbo-jumbo. Classes have a dynamic rhythm that feels a lot closer to a Ted Talk presentation, and are complete with extensively explanatory step by step tutorial-like lessons.

“Introduction to Computer Science” is especially hand holding and accessible to newcomers. According to David J. Malan, professor of this course, 68% of students never had a formal education on computer science before, and he shares the philosophy  that what matters is not about where you are in relation to your classmates, but where you are in relation to yourself from when you started. The course covers languages like C and Python, and allows you to branch out to related programs that touch the subjects of development for game, mobile apps, web or AI.

While I can’t fully appreciate “Introduction to Game Development”, I had a little help from my boyfriend, who is currently a game design college student and has a greater level of programming expertise. He was kind enough to share his opinions and said the course really surpassed his expectations, and that he will probably attend all classes in order to reinforce what he had already known, and luckily, he will even be able to learn a few new tricks. This course uses a case study style approach, dissecting and recreating some aspects of famous games, like Pokemon, The legend of Zelda and Super Mario. The game development framework used are Lua and LOVE 2D, for initial classes and most part of the course, while reserving the last quarter for C# and Unity.

For me, these seem to be truly alluring, engaging and rewarding opportunities. But, don’t panic if you are facing an inconvenient time that will stop you from taking classes right away. It is an annual course that has been around since 2015, and has a ton of content available on Youtube that may stay there virtually forever. There will be probably more chances in the future during favorable circumstances.

Finally, I can’t recommend enough keeping tabs on edX for courses like that. I hope you find this suggestion helpful, and share with a friend who might like the news. Also, feel free to share with us your recommendations for game development learning opportunities on the comment sections.


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Thiago Villar

Carioca, cinephile, chocoholic. Juggles between finishing law school and pop culture critique. Loves movies, comic books and games. Avid switch player. Indies ftw!

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