Here’s a quote I ran across:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
— Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love
I haven’t read the novel it’s from, and I question the need for invasion planning skills, but I like the sentiment that we should strive to acquire an array of competencies.
For my computer science degree I needed a number of non-CS, non-math credits to graduate. I had a wealth of options, from standard university fare to niche topics like international trade and East Asian studies. Among the electives I took were Film Noir, Moral Issues, Understanding Music, a religious studies course simply titled Evil, and Elements of Dance. That last course netted me the highest grade on my transcript. It was always a talking point in my co-op interviews.
I learned a ton from those classes. Though I value breadth of experience, I also recognize the validity of the critique in “jack of all trades, master of none”. Despite my GPA-inflating dance mark, I have yet to be invited to compete on Dancing with the Stars. Depth is important too.
Game development especially benefits from T-shaped people. Building a game demands such a range of specialities — physics, lighting, audio, networking, the list goes on — that mastering them all would take multiple lifetimes. But having at least a basic understanding of each discipline involved is useful. Game engines like Unity and Unreal mercifully mean you don’t need to be an expert in 3D rendering to build a 3D game, but familiarity with algebra and concepts like quaternions doesn’t hurt.
The fusion of disciplines is one reason I enjoy film and games so much. The mix of competencies and interests, whether from a team or a single gifted polymath, makes each a unique experience. So cheers to all you Rennaissance Men and Rennaissance Women. Insects are gross.