A few moments ago I received an email from a former design colleague. The answer was “No”. He did not have the skillset needed to create virtual content. In fact, none of the Industrial Designers I know have the skillsets needed. They know surface modelers like Alias and Rhino; know solid CAD applications like SolidWorks and Pro/ENGINEER. But none of them have done any videogame modding or even dabbled in the relatively simple world of Second Life. They’re basically clueless.
Now some people would say “Who cares? There are others out there who can do it.” Not quite and not for much of the content. For anyone who has done 3D development work in some of the videogames out there (including mods) or has seen what’s coming in the nextgen titles, it will probably be obvious that the skillsets needed to create compelling content are going through the roof.
animators media content creators I’ve seen doing this kind of work aren’t good enough in my opinion. Their work is too imprecise. They don’t think immersively. They tend to think in terms of a Hollywood set where a building is only the front facade and the camera never shows the paperclip and rubberband backside. A controlled environment where the camera hides the details that don’t pass muster. You only see what they want to show.
The game developers seem too few in number. There’s just not enough of them and they’re rarely designers in the sense I’m speaking. They’re also mostly polypushers who’s only real skillset is modeling in a variety of applications. A valuable skillset to be sure, but ask them to sketch something real or develop a design and they’ll probably freeze like a deer in headlights. Ask them to model an object that looks real, and they’ll put the parting line in the wrong place, assuming they even put it on or know what one is. To be sure, there are some talented individuals out there who can handle all these things. Just not enough of them.
What that means is that there is very likely going to be a significant lack of creative talent serving what I expect will be a rapidly emerging and expanding market for 3D content. And I don’t need much more to reinforce my thinking than an article over on Ad Age (Link) about the very same problem… only for the old internet/new Web 2.0 stuff. Well, if ad agencies think it’s bad now, wait til things go 3D. Are they ever in for a rude surprise.