We talked with representatives of educational platforms about what they think about the current situation around XYZ School.

They agreed to answer our questions:

  • Ivan Pavlovsky, Dean of the Faculty of Game Design at GeekBrains;
  • Maria Kochakova, Founder and CEO of the Narratorika School of Game Screenwriters;
  • Vyacheslav Utochkin, Deputy Director of the Center for the Development of Competencies in Business Informatics at the Higher School of Business of the HSE.

App2Top.ru Questioner: You probably study competitors, track their successes and failures. Can you share what, from your point of view, XYZ did wrong in general and what did it do wrong within the framework of the scandal?

Ivan Pavlovsky

Pavlovsky (GeekBrains): In general, everything used to look pretty good from the outside at XYZ. But there was a scandal. Now it’s tightened.

XYZ say they will fix everything in a month. It sounds unrealistic, unless they started dealing with this problem a long time ago.

Maria Kochakova

Kochakova (Narratorika): The biggest problem I saw was the lack of clear communication with students. When people pay money, everything should be transparent. Well, deadlines are being shifted, well, problems with the production of content – maybe the teacher who was hired got sick with the crown and fell out for two months, and there is no replacement to be found, because there are only two teachers on the market – of course, everything happens. But it was not worth throwing people into the unknown.

In my experience, people are seals, they go to a meeting and understand if everything is honestly explained. You can always give additional content from other courses, somehow compensate for the delay. But we need to do this, and not keep silent.

As part of the scandal, they repeated the same general words as before – without any specifics. It would be better to make refunds. Refunds are always unpleasant and hits the seller’s pocket, but sometimes it’s better to make an honest refund and sleep in peace. With a good reputation of the school, good content and good student results, this money will return quickly.

Vyacheslav Utochkin

Utochkin (HSE): For my part, I will note three points. Firstly, I think it is wrong to conduct external communication in an aggressive style, as they like to do. In discussions on DTF, screenshots from Discord were posted with insults from XYZ to the authors of the article. I can’t check whether this is true or not, but I have personal experience with them. Not so long ago, XYZ announced a new course. It was also called as one of our educational programs. I’m sure it was done for SEO reasons. Our name is not the most obvious. Anyway, this is a debatable question: is it ethical or not to do so. But what they definitely shouldn’t have done was publicly insulting the HSE on social networks. Namely, XYZ was noticed in this.

Secondly, in the current situation, it is wrong to limit ourselves to words and promises. It is necessary to introduce a system for refunding money for the course to those who decide not to wait, but to return the money for the service not rendered on time.

Thirdly, it is most correct to conduct educational activities on the basis of a license, guided in their activities by the Law on Education of the Russian Federation, the Order of organization and implementation of educational activities for additional professional programs. Then such situations will be impossible in principle.

App2Top.ru : Reputation is very important for education. To what extent can such scandals seriously affect business?

Maria Kochakova

Kochakova (Narratorika): I can speak here, relying, among other things, on my own experience. My scandal, which happened a few years ago, hit me psychologically and economically.

Economically, there were a number of refunds. People were scared. But my school is small. There are many courses and many teachers in a large school. People, it seems to me, go to a teacher rather than to a school. So it is unlikely that other destinations in XYZ will suffer much.

And do not be afraid of the current wave of indignation. Haters of online education are not the target audience. These people will never go to courses, they are not potential clients, and they will always criticize and blame any school on the principle of “I have not read Pasternak, but I condemn”. Again, people constantly come to me, claiming that I am an Infocygan. And they didn’t take a single course with me. And who passed – does not say that.

Vyacheslav Utochkin

Utochkin (HSE): Time will tell how the scandal will affect the school.

If we recall the “Business Youth”, then they have been scolded for many years by representatives of the business community and the customers themselves. Despite the Haight wave, the courses were in enviable demand. At the best of times, their combined annual revenue reached up to a billion rubles.

I myself consider reputation to be a very important component of educational initiatives. I go myself when working on courses from the product. The approach to training should be based on the goals that the product solves for the client, and not on marketing.

And what is his goal, what does a person want when he plans to go to game dev?

He knows that working in game dev is very interesting. Moreover, I think he knows that life changes for the better when you do what you love. However, to take the first step, namely to change your profession, is a difficult task. The purpose of the course is to reduce this complexity.

App2Top.ru Unlike other platforms, XYZ had an unusual approach to marketing. They launched a very successful YouTube channel and a specialized website to promote it (or brand development in general, which is the same thing). To what extent is this a working scheme and can we say that after its authors left, this tool turned into a pumpkin for them?

Ivan Pavlovsky

Pavlovsky (GeekBrains): XYZ have created very cool media content – and this is something that is really worth learning from them, no matter how this story ends. Whether they will be able to keep the bar without a team of authors is an open question.

Maria Kochakova

Kochakova (Narratorika): I don’t know. This is an interesting format, and I myself would like to know how much it helps the school.

Some authors have left, others will come. Videos on DTF did not fall in quality after the departure of Lutsai in XYZ. Lutsay is a very strong journalist and critic, but there are other Skywalkers. Unless, perhaps, they will have to learn more, but the beak is a gainful thing, as they say.

As for the damage to the reputation of the school, including from the departure of media writers – if the school works out the scandal well, reimburses the students for the damage, rolls out a course that was worth waiting for a year, and confirms its quality with real cases of students – this test can turn into a reward.

Vyacheslav Utochkin

Utochkin (HSE): A very cool approach. We also have our own YouTube channel, where we post educational materials on game rendezvous.

This works well for promoting educational programs. Plus, it’s just useful to anyone who wants to play a game dev. Thanks to him, they get high-quality free content for free.

I would like more such resources. Perhaps there will be more of them right now. This will happen if the departed authors launch their channels, and XYZ does not abandon the existing one.

App2Top.ru Q: What did you pay attention to in this scandal?

Maria Kochakova

Kochakova (Narratorika): An article from students on DTF is a great guide for online schools on what and how to do and what not to do. You can check yourself and treat weaknesses.

Vyacheslav Utochkin

Utochkin (HSE): First of all, I drew attention to the fact that a precedent has been set in the game dev education market, when the opinion of a group of students had a significant impact on business. This means that all market participants, I hope, will continue to think more about the quality of training, and not about promotion.

App2Top.ru : Can we say that such a case will eventually be useful for the market, will force some players to reconsider their attitude to education?

Ivan Pavlovsky

Pavlovsky (GeekBrains): Such cases are always useful for the market, because they remind educational platforms that they need to approach the preparation of materials more carefully, and not chase solely the speed of launches and, accordingly, faster money. Thus, the focus on the quality of the taught content will increase, and consequently, the specialists who will leave after the online educational programs will be more highly qualified and prepared for the market.

Maria Kochakova

Kochakova (Narratorika): Yes, I still see only a positive effect in the scandal. Do not be afraid that criticism of one school will affect the rest. The results of our students always speak for us. That’s all that matters.

I hope, thanks to this scandal, there will be less unfair attitude to training in game development.

Education and schools are getting better and better every year. We are the first generation of teachers, we pave the way from scratch, we write programs and methods from scratch, we test everything on our own skin. For this, we are constantly under a barrage of criticism – because we are not perfect, because we could not immediately build Moscow, in the sense of an ideal education, because we are living people, and living people make mistakes.

But criticism should not frighten. And refunds should not frighten. The forest is being cut down, splinters are flying. A noble man sees the imperfection of the world, but does not give up.

Vyacheslav Utochkin

Utochkin (HSE): I am sure that the scandal, or rather, the lessons learned from it, will ultimately raise the level of both courses and the students they graduate. All together, as a whole, will lead to the further development of the domestic gaming industry.