As I've stated on a previous thread, I'm a software developer in my early 30's. I have been working professionally in development for about twelve years now. I've been a "code in a cave" programmer, up through middle management, and back again.
All of my skills have been related to business systems and internet / intranet applications. These aren't just building web pages, these are full on ecommerce, internal order entry, and so on - but nothing that could ever be construed as a "game." (Other than maybe playing SimCustomer during sales / tech meetings.) I'm no newbie to software development, or the business side and hassles surrounding it.
Also, I am personally more interested in the Game Design arena more than programming. I thrive on idea creation, crafting stories, creating characters, drawing geeky maps for my RPG nights, balancing rules and strategy, and so on. (Along with probably several hundred thousand other people out there.)
And to top it off, there are no real game design schools around here. The closest is a nearby tech school is starting to offer these kinds of courses, but its just getting started now, and definitely not a prestigious university. I'm willing to do a lot of work in my own time, which I really should have been doing MORE of these past 10 years, but I don't know how that stacks up to a degree.
Finally, I live in the midwest and really have no desire to move back to a coast or Texas to work. Besides the fact that the cost of living there would eat me alive, as I have a wife and three kids, and would be starting at a low salary.
Am I screwed? Is my path just too far away from being able to do this for a living? I figure, even if I were to do a lot of learning in my own time, and build an impressive portfoilo and / or have a successful game mod or set of levels, I would have to move to be able to make a career out of it. I could still do it in my own time, as a hobby for the fun of it of course, but I'm getting to that age where real-life commitments start to stack up and dedicated daily time is hard to come by.
Curious what others think - I'm debating what to do with my next ten years before I lose another day.