Monday, June 18, 2007

Graduation weekend

The commencement speaker was the Chairman for the National Endowment of the Arts. His speech discussed how public education should devote more time to music, drawing, poetry.

"Video games are taking up time that could be spent on arts. If you spend a month playing Halo 3, you will not grow nearly as much as if you spend that month learning to draw. If you don't believe me, try it."

I asked Tom what he thought of the speech.

Tom just started a job programming video games for Electronic Arts.

"It was the worst speech possible," he said.

The computer science department diploma ceremony. One lucky Ph.D. student was hooded by Donald Knuth.

I chatted for 20 minutes with the extremely humble and witty J, under a palm tree.

Father's Day and graduation on the same day. My dad is happy. :)


ArC said...

So when will Tom graduate from EA?

zb42 said...

"One lucky Ph.D. student was hooded by Donald Knuth."

It's doubtful that "luck" had anything to do with the aforementioned student getting his doctorate from DEK himself! That must have been one whopper of dissertation for DEK to come out of his TAOCP cave.

This, of course, begs the following questions:

1) What was the dissertation about?

2) Did DEK break his assertion that he would no longer advise any more students:

"I'm proud of the 28 students for whom I was a dissertation advisor (see vita); and I know that 28 is a perfect number. So I won't be advising any more students."

Xerxes_Blue said...

Dana Gioia has been one of the most effective NEA directors in years, and someone who has sought to make a real difference in the lives of Americans. After Earning two degrees at Stanford, and going on to make millions in business, he retired at an early age like many a Stanford grad. But, then, instead of spending his cash on nightclubs and crash pads, he chose to try to improve the lives of thousands of underpriveleged schoolchildren by encouraging the reading of poetry and appreciation of art in the public school curriculum. He was one of President Bush's few agency nominees UNANIMOUSLY approved of in the U.S. Senate, in both the first and second terms. Almost anyone on any side of politics will say that Dana's work in the last 6 years has been both noble and effective on a national scale. You brother's Beavis and Butthead reply is a stark and amusingly ironic reminder of the result of today's curriculum. There is virtue in selfishness, but is any Stanford student required to take a course on Civic virtue any more? Let us hope Tom's opinion is not representative of the whole, and that Mr. Gioia was not talking into outer space. Your father should ask for his money back.

Anonymous said...

Kids today... with their VIDEO GAME art... It all MOVES TO QUICKLY FOR ME... and... I can't hear what they're saying... and... WHERE'S MY DAMN GUN?!

ArC said...

Gioia's comment is really apples and oranges. Playing Halo is _appreciating_ art; learning to draw is learning to _create_ art.

(One might not like Halo, but I am of the opinion that bad art is still art. Actually, that said, I really like Halo a lot.)

If I spent a month watching bad movies, it would be every bit as much appreciating art, albeit bad art, as if I spent a month watching good movies. And in both cases, the growth achieved, if any, would certainly be qualitatively different growth from a month spent learning to make movies.

Like I said, apples and oranges. There ought to be enough time for both.

(Unless you're allergic to apples, I suppose.)

Anonymous said...

Why do "arty" people always get their panties in such a bunch? Why can't they go out and get real jobs like the rest of us?

Anonymous said...

Your brother will soon be working at the video game slave ship known as EA? I've worked there so I should know.

Couldn't you have pulled some strings to get your brother into google? or Microsoft?

eeeshhh! I certainly wouldn't want to start my career at EA. Oh wait I started at an even worse video game company. Well you know the saying that which doesn't kill you....

It just goes to show there is no nepotism in Niniane's family or google for that matter. You want to work at google? EARN IT! :)

Niniane said...

re: Anonymous @ 6/20/2007 4:31 PM.

Tom did not apply to Google. Previously he already turned down Google once, for an internship (he went to Apple instead).

He seems to like EA so far. He's been working there for a little over a week.

Anonymous said...

I was at last weekend’s commencement.

You and your bro's comments on Dana were ignorant and insulting.

Perhaps you both were just too young to understand his points. Perhaps comprehension has nothing to do with age.

Arts, science and music are priceless and invaluable to humanity. Your work at Google and previously Microsoft may prove that you are smart, but have nothing to do with understanding humanity.

You may have gone through enough pretty parties; you certainly have not experienced enough life: respect, death, fortune, motherhood, poverty, true happiness, unconditional love. You may be smart, but from your comments, you certainly are not wise.

Your parents should be shamed of your comments. I feel sorry for you.

ArC said...

eeeshhh! I certainly wouldn't want to start my career at EA.

I don't see why not. The main thing he'll miss out on, probably, is seeing his project cancelled after crunching to make alpha.

Niniane said...

To Anonymous @ 6/21/2007 12:23 AM:

I actually did agree with some of the speaker's points, such as the fact that media over-emphasizes entertainment and de-emphasizes achievements in the arts and sciences.

I left that out of the blog post, because I wanted to write a lighthearted entry.

However, I disagree with the "Halo 3 vs. drawing" sentiment. Drawing will move some people to greater personal fulfillment, and it will have zero effect on others. I love going to museums, but some of my friends would get nothing out of it. I disagree with generalizing the benefit of drawing to everyone.

Thanks for the comments.

Anonymous said...

Some video games are creative and can be considered "arty" or ingenious, other games are just violent crap. The UK government has outlawed some games. I don't know the games of EA, are they violent?

There is too much media coverage of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and like. I believe we can all agree on that.

Niniane did write a lot about art and museums. In the past more than recently.

RC, The Netherlands

Tom Wang said...

To the anonymous commenters on this post:

I rarely read my sister's blog as we share a no-read blog policy and, ironically, found it as a hit on Google when searching with terms 'EA Slave'.

I felt clarification was needed on my comment regarding Dana Gioia's speech. I do not retract my statement - it was the worst speech possible.

I am deeply troubled that the director of the NEA advises children against video games. I am a staunch believer that educational video games will be the wave of the future. I consider video games, as opposed to television and books, to be a widely consumed interactive media that bears great potential in teaching while entertaining children (a crucial combination). Video games can create situations that must be explored, logically reasoned, and learned. Designed properly, video games engage the user and can teach by demonstration in ways that no other medium can match. Most importantly, they have an unmatched potential to encourage a child to want to learn.

I consider the challenge of making a fun, educational video game a critical problem for education in the upcoming decades. I sincerely believe some of the most creative minds on the world currently occupy roles as video game designers and, if encouraged properly by people in high places like Dana Gioia, have the ability to solve this puzzle for the benefit of innumerable generations to follow. I wish for the day humanity can play an educational game along the likes of Ender's Game (but more benign).

(Excellent) Video games are art and should be recognized as such. I expected better from the Director of the NEA.

Some of you should have inquired more before you judged the worth of my entire Stanford education based on one line in a blog entry. I hope to be part of the movement that educates your children to know better.

- Tom Wang

PS: This entry should reveal to curious readers why I would choose Maxis and The Sims as the starting point of my career. Not only is it the only franchise that has more female gamers than male, it also boasts the highest percentage of female managers of any studio in the entire game industry (admittedly still only 20%). I consider that forward-thinking.