Future of game and training development for the designer

Games are becoming significantly easier to create. I say this because the most popular games on the market right now like Mass Effect 3 and SWTOR use off the shelf, free, game engines. Normally, games are developed using their own engines, which take a lot of time and money to develop. However, off the shelf engines are becoming just as good. The best part is that many of these off the shelf engines are free and opensource.

Now before I get into ease of development, these engines still require a significant amount of programming and are not really made for the novice. However, there is a trend to make these engines more designer friendly, meaning less programming and more ‘building’. Examples of this can be seen in Google App Inventor (now at MIT), Scratch, Squeak, Gamemaker etc. The reason that game engine designers want engines to entail less programming is that programmers are not game designers, they are programmers but at this point only the programmers can use the engines. They want and need designers to use their engines to build games, which will in turn make their engines more popular.

This trend is happening in training development as well. We are seeing a push to develop with software like Articulate, a program that does not take a lot if any programming experience to develop sound instruction. This makes the instructional designer also now a developer, and more marketable as programmers are not required to develop the instruction. This however, does take time away from the instructional designer thus someone still needs to develop whether it’s the programmer or designer.

Essentially the point of this post is that I see game and training development starting to fall into the hands of the designer more than it is. In fact, I would not be surprised if our field starts focusing on ‘building’ – that is understanding programming logic and constructing games and training, instead of actually having to program at all.