Game Design Career Preparation [08.30.06]
- Tom Sloper
“Game Design Career Preparation” has been revised with permission from Tom Sloper’s extensive lessons and advice on game industry available at Sloperama Productions’ School-a-Rama.
Make a Career
That's right, we're talking about a career here. Nobody just dabbles in game design. (Nobody just designs one game idea, sells it, gets rich, and retires at age 21). If you're interested in designing games, you should make a career of it!
Go to college and get a Bachelor's degree. That's a 4-year degree (not a 2-year degree and not a learn-by-mail or learn-by-internet degree). Get a degree in a subject that you're passionate about at a college that you choose based on your own personal criteria.
But even with a degree in hand, you will not get hired as a "Game Designer" right out of school without industry experience! You have to have other useful skills to get a job at a game company. Once you've gotten your foot in the door, you can gravitate into a design position. ... So why get a college degree?
One thing that a university degree does for you is that it shows a potential employer that you have stick-to-it-ive-ness (the ability, strength, stamina, and intelligence to apply yourself for the long haul). Another thing that going to college does for you is it teaches you to learn. High school is about school learning—basic stuff everybody needs to know. College gives you skills you can use in real life. Making goals, overcoming problems, devising solutions, and surviving. Yet another reason to go to college before getting that game biz job is that they say a college degree adds a lot of money to your lifetime income. I even heard this on a TV show, so it must be true!
To become a "game designer," you will need a broad education. Major in just about anything that interests you, especially if it relates to computers or entertainment—just get a degree. If you can find a school that offers a program geared for game design, fine—go for it. If you can't find one (there are some, and new ones are popping up all the time, but they are still fairly rare) or if you can't get into one of those, then don't worry about it. Just get a 4-year Bachelor's degree in any topic that interests you and take classes in the topics listed below.
I myself am not a programmer, and I am not a graphic designer. I am a producer and designer of games, but I couldn't program a game if my life depended on it—and I couldn't animate one either. "Game Design" does not mean "programming," and it does not mean "graphic design."
© Tom Sloper 2000-2004