Bulletin of the Technical Committee on Learning Technology (ISSN: 2306-0212)
The eXtended Reality (XR) is a rapidly developing field encompassing Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR). They share common features and requirements but have different technologies and objectives. These technologies are widely used in gaming and non-gaming content in training and simulations. With the improvements in computing power and ease of access, the gaming industry is going through a revolutionary stage. In this context, teaching and training the next generation of developers is crucial in improving access and outreach of game development among the younger population. Jerry Medeiros is an experienced professional and leader in game development, XR training, and simulations. He is a Unity-certified instructor and is passionate about teaching emerging technologies. In this interview, he introduces his own experience in this emerging field and shares insights on the community, teaching, and training gaming development, and some resources and recommendations to aspiring candidates.
Keywords: Expert Interview, XR Training, Education in Gaming Industry, Game Development.
Extended Reality (XR), which includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR), has seen rapid growth in recent years. The XR industry encompassing a wide range of applications (e.g., entertainment, education, training, design, and marketing) has also been accelerating the evolution of gaming development education. In this article, we present an interview with Jerry Medeiros, an expert in game development and Artificial Intelligence (AI). He was the former director of Education at Circuit Stream. Jerry has more than 10 years of experience using his skills to create games, XR training, and simulations. As a Unity-certified instructor, he is passionate about teaching emerging technologies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Game Development, a certificate in interaction design, a master’s degree in computer science, and an MBA in leadership and innovation.
II. RELATED WORK
There have been numerous research efforts in game development education, especially in university environments (e.g.,  – ). However, XR development education, particularly in the gaming industry, has received less research attention. We hope this interview can inspire researchers in the field and provide future research directions.
III. THE INTERVIEW
The transcript of the interview is provided in this section.
A. Gaming and the Gaming Industry
Q: How did you start your career in the gaming industry, and how have things changed from the past, fast forwarding to today?
A: I went to a career fair at a university 12-13 years ago, where I learned about a Computer Science program specializing in game development. After talking to the professionals in the field, I decided to pursue this course. There were fewer companies in this field in Brazil, but I did internships at those companies. I started building games for mobile phones (before Android and iOS), which was more complicated than today because of memory constraints and challenges with their distribution. Then, I started developing games for online platforms such as Facebook and Orkut. Everything has changed and evolved since then – we have better phones, consoles, graphics processing power, and better access to technology. Earlier, the development engines were not open to the public and were much more complex to code. Now, we have phones that are better than computers enabling us to have polished and complex games. We also have open-source platforms, templates, and online resources. With AR & VR, the possibilities are endless; innovative hardware such as Meta Quest is easily accessible.
Q: How did you land at Circuit Stream, and how is it impacting the industry?
A: In Brazil (5 years ago), I was working to build training simulations on VR headsets for the construction, mining,
and oil & gas industries. Circuit Stream was an interesting small-scale start-up in Canada with two business units – one creating projects and the other teaching how to develop those projects. To move to Canada, I applied for a position having teaching and developing components. Circuit Stream is now more focused on the educational aspect, and I lead the education team. It greatly impacts the community, mainly because we train the next generation of developers. It is one of the most exhaustive programs that teach how to develop AR/VR and is even suitable for people without any background in the field. We also provide open-source tutorials, free webinars, and blogs for people to build their knowledge through exploration.
Q: Does Circuit Stream have collaborations with the industry? If yes, what kind of collaborations do you have with them?
A: Yes, we have industrial collaborations with companies such as Microsoft® and ShapesXR® on hiring, content creation, innovation, and feedback on the technology. We have hiring partners who potentially hire our students; content partnerships where we teach their technology, create courses together and create free webinars. We also have representatives from the industry on our Advisory Board to provide feedback to craft our curriculum based on the requirements and latest trends in the industry. We also have partnerships with the community for content creation and certification.
Q: Game development is a relatively newer and upcoming field. How is the outreach of this field in other parts of the world and institutions? Are there conferences or community engagement events in this field? Can you share some of the major events?
A: There are various popular events in different formats to improve the outreach and interactions within the community. The biggest event in the field is the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3, happening every June in the USA where every major studio shares its plans and projects and is covered by the mainstream media. The Game Developers Conference is an annual conference in San Francisco, USA, for video game developers and aspiring developers. This conference allows learning the technical developments and newer challenges in game development. There are local events in different countries, e.g., XGames in Brazil. For AR/VR/XR in general, the annual Augmented World Expo in the USA, Europe, and Asia, provides updates on hardware and new AR/VR games. Unity Technologies organize an annual conference “Unite”, for creators around the globe to connect and learn about the latest technology and services to develop and grow their games. Some of the talks are open to the public and are even live-streamed, making them accessible.
Q: What can be done to promote gaming development?
A: Game development is an interesting area for people to learn how to solve problems, and people are transitioning to this area a bit late in their careers. Early exposure to game development through community colleges, summer camps, hackathons, and to a small extent, in elementary schools helps align the students with the skills and capacity required to excel in this field. There are a lot of tools that could be used without the knowledge of programming. We plan to partner with high schools and colleges to introduce summer camps and activities to help students explore game development.
Q: What would be the future course of this field in terms of new developments and initiatives?
A: This field is going to be more and more interactive. With the improvements in technology, hardware, and graphics, the next few years will witness a fully immersive VR experience with more social interactions (multi-player/multi-user). With the introduction of 5G and reliable internet connections, technology could be more accessible, leading to more people connected to immersive and social experiences.
Q: What are the significant challenges in AR/VR industry that are yet to be resolved?
A: The main challenge with AR/VR is access and outreach among people. AR/VR headsets are still not as popular as mobile phones. Another problem is the ergonomics of such headsets; they are still heavy, expensive, uncomfortable, and have less battery power. We need to make it feel more natural, and it is still a long way to go to make it more comfortable and accessible to everyone.
B. Teaching Game Development
Q: You previously worked as an academic in a university but now is the director of education in the gaming industry. What are the differences between teaching in a university and a company?
A: There are numerous differences. One of the main differences is that there are a lot more regulations in universities. More specifically, keeping up with technology is not as easy, the curriculum does not change as fast as the changes in the industry, and some courses still teach obsolete programs. On the other side, there are fewer regulations (and more flexibility) in the industry and adapting to emerging technology and changing requirements is faster.
Q: Since Circuit Stream’s students come from various backgrounds and industries, how do you value student diversity? How does it impact your pedagogy? Could you provide us with some examples?
A: Diversity is crucial in a classroom because having different backgrounds, cultures, and knowledge levels will bring in different perspectives, and it helps to have an open mind. We also accept people having no prior experience in programming/gaming development, and it is taken into consideration while designing the course to make sure it is understandable to everyone. We continuously take feedback from students to improve the course design and language. We provide additional resources and one-on-one mentorship to help students with different needs and accommodations. We also ensure an equitable, approachable, and respectful teaching and learning environment. We are constantly improving based on learning and feedback.
Q: Do you collect student feedback during your teaching/training process? What kinds of feedback do you usually gather from students? How do you use the collected feedback to improve your teaching further? Could you provide us with some examples?
A: We collect feedback in different ways. We circulate surveys at the end of every week consisting of questions on the pace of the teaching and the difficulty in understanding the topics. We look at the statistics of the responses and act upon them. There is an open feedback process where students can express any feedback on the course. At the end of the course, we collect the learner’s perspectives on whether their expectations were met and the quality of the content. Feedback helps us in improving our courses and teaching practices.
Q: What are the significant challenges in teaching game development? What are the areas of improvement?
A: The main challenge, from my perspective, is that learning game development could be frustrating and extremely difficult; it is multi-disciplinary, where students are required to learn some Mathematics and programming, deal with 3D assets, collaborate, and optimize. We can build a community to support each other, make it more collaborative and interactive, and have a sense of belonging.
C. Student Resources and Future Directions
Q: Are there funding opportunities for the students? Do you think there is a need for funding from the gaming industry to develop the next-generation workforce?
A: Having scholarships and funding opportunities is important to make learning more accessible, especially because the courses and hardware could be expensive. There are scholarships from sources, such as Entertainment Software Association, The International Game Developers Association Foundation (IGDA-F), and several provinces in Canada.
IV. CONCLUSION AND REFLECTION
With the booming of the XR industry, game development education has become more popular and crucial. We interviewed Jerry Medeiros, who has been an experienced educator and leader in the XR game development industry.
Jerry introduced his background in the gaming industry and explained the current situation and future direction in game development education. Although XR is an emerging field in game development education it can create huge potential and benefit the whole game industry in the future. There are two essential reasons behind that. First, XR training has its own natural advantages compared to traditional game development or computer science education since XR itself is an interactive technology that can incentivize participants in a more sensible way. When it comes to teaching, it is much easier to create active learning components using XR, and we believe the idea of utilizing XR technology to teach XR game development will become a practical and effective way in this field. Second, due to its close connection to the gaming industry, there have been many opportunities for existing educators and future students.
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All authors contributed equally to this work.
The interview recording can be found on the IEEE TCLT YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/@ieeetclt).
Harikrishna Rao Mohan Rao
is a Ph.D. student in Control Systems at the University of Alberta, Canada. He received his Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech) degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Kerala, India, in 2012. He has 7 years of industrial experience in Clean Energy and Solid Oxide Fuel Cells. His current research focuses on Industrial Alarm Monitoring and Design.
is a third-year Ph.D. student in the School of Computing at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. His research focuses on IoT, blockchain, applied cryptography, and computer science education.
is a fourth-year computer science student at NMIMS India. His research interests are cybersecurity, algorithms, machine learning, and natural language processing.