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  • Student Testimonial: Full Sail Real World Education

    [10.16.07]
    - Grant Shonkwiler
  •  I started designing games after I got angry losing a Pokemon game, so I designed a game with a friend called Pokemon Killer. Now it's my goal to become either a video game programmer or designer sometime around July 2008 when I'm due to graduate from Full Sail Real World Education.

    Full Sail is well-known video game development school located in Winter Park, Florida. I'm enrolled in the 21-month long game development bachelor's of science degree. I started in September 2006.

    The first thing that people realize when they start at Full Sail is that it is not a design degree. A lot of students come to this school with the misconception that they will learn to design games here. This is probably the reason the school officials changed the program to be called "game development." While there are quite a few classes that teach game design and design theory, the school is basically a computer science degree on crack. The reason I use the term "on crack" is not just because of the accelerated pace of the course, but also the hours and amount of dedication that the school requires.

    The school is formatted so that you have two classes a month, one class meeting two days a week and the other meeting three days a week, each with four hours of lecture followed by four hours of lab. The first month that you start, the program is kind of an easy introduction to the school. There's a design class and a general education class, but starting the second month it all starts to get a little crazy.

    When I went through those classes (over a year ago now -- man, has it been that long?) we had a schedule where we had a programming class from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., and calculus from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. This kind of schedule happens often. Sometimes it can even be more intense like 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. followed by a 9 a.m. class that same day. It seems to me that they throw this schedule along with the quick start into programming classes to weed out people who come to the school with misconceptions of what game development entails as well as those who are not fully dedicated to their dream.

    Most of the classes have really met my expectations and taught me a ton. When I first came to this school I had very little programming experience. The hardest thing I had ever coded was helping make a web site or playing around in editors. Now, just a little over a year later, I am very confident in my programming skills (mainly C++).

    For the first year the classes are a good mixture of design and programming, but after the year mark is hit the classes are almost all programming. The programming courses are very accelerated. When I finished my first month, I talked to a friend in a traditional computer science degree and I had learned more in one month than he had in a year.

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