Sunday, 5 May 2013

Life Changing or Career Building?

I know what technical skills are, but I didn't have the foggiest what soft skills are until a quick Google search (where would we be without Google?). Its describe as ‘Soft skills is a sociological term relating to a person's "EQ" (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people’. So basically it’s their mind set/personality, cool, let’s begin then.

This sums up soft skills nicely

These soft skills in my eyes are more important than hardskills. Having the drive, motivation and determination to go out there and push yourself time and time again even when you’re making little to no process is what will make you excel. I touched on the subject in a previous blog, basically saying with the right mind set you can pretty much do whatever you want.

These sorts of soft skills are vital in the games industry, even if you have a job in it. As you always need to be on top of your game and constantly striving to be a better artist. So if that means working on personal projects outside of work while you’re crunching 50+ hours a week in work, then so be it, because if you don’t, someone else will and they'll take your job.

I always thought I had good soft skills (especially self-motivation) before taking this course. But looking back from where I am now, I realise that I really didn't. I used to spend around 2 months (while working part time mind you) to fully create a character which wasn't even rigged, and that was down to having little drive/self-motivation. I’d get home from a 4/5 hour shift at work and be like ‘ummm ill start my character tomorrow/next week, it wont matter if i put it off’, and I used to think I had the drive to get into the industry, how wrong I was. Now after 2 years of solid grafting, especially this last year I have gained the drive/self-motivation I desperately needed and required to get anywhere close to a job in the industry.    

Learning how to learn effectively is more beneficial to the student than learning technical skills. As new bits of software get released or workflow techniques change, so the students are going to have to relearn/change their way of thinking to keep up with the evolution of technology  Without having these soft skills its going to take them a lot longer to grasp new technical skills than someone who has these soft skills.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't teach technical skills at all. Technical skills for an artist are very important, without them how can they produce the things we see in modern games?  It’s a fine balance to teach both skillets. I believe this course does a very good job in balancing these 2 out. Its hammered into you from day one that you need to graft to get anywhere on this course, let alone find a job. What stuck in my head and got put into perspective was being told at the induction that ‘50% of students will drop the first year, and another 50% in the second’. That’s not really down to peoples lack of technical skills, it’s their lack of soft skills – no drive to put in the required effort.  

The reason why most people fail this course....

This course does a great job in harnessing the students creativity. In year one it puts you on a tight rope and won’t let you wonder much from the set path, as this year is all about learning the tools of the trade. Then as you progress into the second year that ‘rope’ gets a lot looser, allowing more creative freedom. Then in the third year you get complete freedom. But we are guided and nudge into sensible directions with our creativity. This is what makes us Skillset accredited and highly valuable to employers. 

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