Hey so this may be a harsh one. Me and my friend are computer science and game development students and he's now in Programming 2 and he's not understanding day 1 concepts (i.e. "you dont have to redefine a variable every time you use it", "That's a string why are you setting it to 0?", "the program needs to take in user string input how would you do that?", etc.) and at this point I don't know how to help him actually understand and retain information. What do I do?

  • 19
    Not helping him and let him fail. Unlike what's being touted these days, not everyone can become a dev. Craftsmen are in high demand, too.
  • 11
    Find out whether he's interested in programming for its own sake, rather than just doing it because it's required for a game dev degree. If he's not interested, he'll never succeed in the field. It sounds like he either isn't even trying, or is unable to develop a programmer's perspective/mindset. Either way, he will probably never manage to become a decent developer if he can't start to think like one.

    There are plenty of different careers in game development. He could do 3D modeling and animation. He could do 2D artwork. He could be a story writer, dialogue writer, voice actor, character designer, level designer, etc. None of those require a computer science degree and one of them might be more fitting for him.
  • 5
    This is one of the cases, where failing to get that degree will most likely lead to a way better outcome...

    The game dev industry in general is a pretty toxic work environment featuring shit tons of grind for low pay. It is generally assumed that humans working in that industry need no sleep and have no life outside the office.
  • 4
    Looks like he’s poorly trained neural network. Give him more samples and add reward system ( a cookie ) for correctly completed tasks.
  • 3
    You should ask him:
    1. Why he took that module given he doesn't seem to understand stuff like this for a non-elementary module.
    2. What does he do to fill in the gaps he has in his knowledge (be it watching tutorials, working on side projects, using lecturer office hours).
    3. Does he puts the effort in understanding the course material?
    4. What he hopes to get out of that CS & GD degree (unless you meant to say you were doing CS and him GD), is it money? Is it prestige/fame? Is it the ability to do what he enjoys/love (e.g. creating games)?

    If the answers are any of the following:
    1. It's required or "why not".
    2. Nothing or relying on you.
    3. No.

    Then you're wasting your time helping.

    4. Money or fame (without the passion part).

    Then let him face the reality of the industry.

    If he's a help vampire, then set clear boundaries with him.
  • 3
    @Berkmann18 I’m doing CS and he GD, our school provides us with LinkedInLearning so I told him that if he can’t sit through and start practicing more C# lessons then I’m not going to be of much use to him. Sent him a link to a course and told him to study through the weekend because he’s going to be expected to build a console blackjack game at the end of the course and I can’t help him do that when I’m still walking him through making a simple string.
  • 2
    @vane I had taught 5 people so far, 3 times the exact same CS curriculum. Humans have a tendency to set up reward systems for themselves, which means that if I put a bowl of cookies on the table they almost always take from it only when they have completed a subtask.
  • 0
    @homo-lorens I was a psychology student first and I can say that this version of positive reinforcement conditioning does actually work I may try it.🤔🤔🤔
  • 2
    @ihavePCSD Positive reinforcement is ridiculously effective, so much so that I sometimes feel like we're a lot closer to dogs than we think we are. The trick is wrapping reward cookie mechanisms in a social context that makes the object feel respected.
  • 1
    Which is another inexpandable component of a productive work environment.
  • 1
    @ihavePCSD That's good, at least now he shouldn't bother you as much.
  • 2
    When I was in college I worked part-time in their tutoring center, covering math and computer science. I had so many students who wanted to do game design but didn't actually care about "all that stupid math stuff." I wasn't allowed to tell them to change majors, so it was a difficult job.

    I had a few students that never managed to learn the right critical thinking and problem solving skills that every developer needs, and although they barely managed to scrape out a passing grade in the course, I knew they would never succeed in the industry because they were still making the same mistakes.

    Some people just aren't suited for this career, and there isn't much you can do about it.
  • 0
    "That’s a string, why are you setting it to 0?"

    Sounds like he is a natural born JS dev ;)

    Sry I had to make this joke.

    But yeah, as the others have pointed out, probably coding is not the right thing for him.
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