Feels like summer

“Seven billion souls that move around the sun / rolling faster, faster, and not a chance to slow down”


Two weeks ago, the Game Design & Development Lab at HOFT Institute started its fourth cohort of students. “Cohort” is the word we use for each class of students expected to work individually and as a team to improve themselves and prepare for their first job using game-development skills they already have, and have come to us to polish them up.

As pictured, there are six students in Cohort 4. That’s more than we’ve ever had — Cohort 1, begun in January 2018, was just one student, and Cohorts 2 and 3 began with 4 and 3 students each, respectively. Those are well below what the originators of this program intended, but the past 18 months have been instructive.

That is to say, we have been learning. We’ve learned that it’s difficult to promote a new program, even within an accredited school that’s been around 30 years. It’s difficult to find the sort of student this program was meant to assist — way harder than anyone involved thought it would be, despite how many students learn skills relevant to video game design and development every year, but struggle to enter the job market.

We’re not where we want to be yet, in terms of the relationships and notoriety we want to have. Cohort 4 is an example of this. Until the end of April, only 3 of the 6 students we admitted had contacted us and been approved by our instructors. The other 3 contacted us within 7 weeks of the start date. Of those:

  • One had attended one of our first Portfolio Posse events a year ago, after having graduated a local university program.

  • One I’d met at PAX South back in January, in front of the “breaking in” panel, that I later discovered was his one and only substantial connection to industry professionals.

  • One had been a classmate of a professor at a local university and already has a professional background in promotional design, and applied within a week of the first class — the first student I hadn’t personally met before admission.

It could be said that all this has been time well spent, and everything we’ve accomplished up until now has been necessary to get where we are now. That’s the reality I choose to accept, but I’m left wishing I could be more certain of its truth.

The world won’t slow down for us, or anyone else. We’re doing good work over here.

Thanks for keeping in touch. Join us weekend after next for the second in our speaker series, with our friend Renee Wooten, a Full Sail University graduate who advanced her way into a production position at a local game studio. It’s a Saturday afternoon, and we’ll have working air conditioning at HOFT Institute.

John Henderson