I'm a college student, and I have a really boring class every Tuesday that's 2 hours and 45 minutes long. It's an interesting situation... attendance is required and checked, and electronic devices aren't allowed, but discussion isn't required and the lectures don't really matter to the exams. So I sit there in the back of the room either dozing off, doing Sudoku, doodling on my paper, pen-spinning, or trying to secretly use my phone without getting caught. I find myself wishing I could use the time productively.

Just like when one sits down with paper and crayons and can't think of anything to draw, I find myself wanting to do something to further my game development skills (e.g. work on the design of a game) but as I sit there with a pen and paper and the professor droning on, nothing comes to mind.

Help me get through this tedious class! What are some things I could think through or work on, or how can I figure out things to think/work on? Or even things I could print out in advance and read or solve during class. Remember the constraint is that I have no access to technology...

And I'm not sure a book would be appropriate. Though now that I think of it, I should probably just read game dev books from the library. Why didn't I think of that before? Anyway I still want to hear suggestions! What would you do with this time, if you were in this situation?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Shouldn't this be community wiki? Also isn't this a bit unrelated to gamedev =p \$\endgroup\$ – Wight Sep 14 '10 at 3:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, it might be community wiki. I've always been bad at that, and I err on the side of giving reputation to good answers which of course community wiki eliminates. It's maybe not directly concerning game development, but it's a good question for a community of game developers since I'm specifically asking for game development things to think about or read or do... \$\endgroup\$ – Ricket Sep 14 '10 at 4:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ You know there's the age old, ancient and forgotten art of reading books? Y'know, the ones made from trees :> \$\endgroup\$ – Kornel Kisielewicz Sep 14 '10 at 7:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Think outside the box - exactly how is attendance checked? Can you hire a gold-farmer (fellow student) to answer for you? :) \$\endgroup\$ – Cyclops Sep 14 '10 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Poor you! I usually programmed on my own pet projects during the programming lectures. \$\endgroup\$ – Nailer Sep 17 '10 at 22:55

Here is what I'm doing when a lecture is making me fall asleep

  • Think of a game design problem and try to solve it, going through some of the games you've played seeing what developers did wrong, what you can improve, what decision you would have took if you were in the position to do so, etc.

  • Make up a short story, it doesn't have to be complicated, just some characters and how do you think they should interact with each other. (e.g: i often think of a story of a midget elf who is trying to make something out of himself even though all the bigger elves laugh at him and call him name).

  • Write down whatever quirky thoughts you have, be it programming or design, having it lay down on paper with pros and cons, this can give you a better idea of how to balance elements in a game, in my honest opinion when you think about a design you have to nibble on it for a long time to see if it's good.

  • This may sound "Inception" like but draw labyrinths, level flow is extremely important in any game, you don't want just a corridor with some rooms now do you?

From student to student: don't upset the teacher, being discrete in these kind of situation, where you have no interest in the course, is the best way to go about it. All I've written above can be seen as paying attention or taking lecture notes, so no danger there :)


Pay attention in class and bring something unique from the lecture into the next game you work on.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good answer. Even if the lecture has no relation to gaming, not taking your studies seriously nor paying attention to things are negative traits to bring into the workforce. \$\endgroup\$ – 5ound Sep 14 '10 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ It also prevents you from becoming a useless derivative designer. Imagine if Ken Levine had skipped his "useless" philosophy classes, or Will Wright his "useless" architecture or biology classes, if Shigeru Miyamoto had never taken up gardening because it wasn't related to a narrow view of "game design", or Jordan Mechner never studied the animation techniques of rotoscoping. Assuming game development is learnt primarily in classes titled "game development" is to admit to be an uncreative assembly line worker, with the hope of one day being promoted to uncreative assembly line manager. \$\endgroup\$ – user744 Sep 14 '10 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Aren't you assuming Will Wright thought biology and architecture was tedious, but because he sat through it anyway he became a good game designer? I don't buy that. I think Wright thought architecture and biology was interesting, and I think that if he found himself in a tedious class, he'd day dream and sketch, and that's why he's a good game designer. \$\endgroup\$ – 0scar Sep 19 '10 at 13:28

Possible things I did in class before

  1. I would draw on paper it help you get ideas

  2. Think of a game design and play it on paper or in my head.

  3. Questioning the lecture is always helpful to warrant discussion to make things interesting it also builds communication skills.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think "mitigates" means what you think it means. \$\endgroup\$ – user744 Sep 15 '10 at 11:10

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