Originally Posted by Bigbeef
1. The thing that's causing a bit of confusion is their "Game Designer" degree. It looks like it's more based on creating gameplay concepts, team coordination and management skills, game economies, gameplay balancing, level design, etc.
...Are these skills something that is actively sought after in the field?
2. I'm worried about being able to actually do this as a career when I'm finished, and I want to make sure that the skills I learn are useful in all-sized companies in the industry.
... I'm worried that the "Game Design" degree path is something only "Big Companies" are looking for, with limited positions and that it's not important on small-scale indi titles.
3. ...don't want to get a degree that teaches skills that isn't sought after for indi-level titles.
4. P.S. I know Full Sail is expensive, but I have the 9/11 GI Bill and it's going to cover all books and tuition. So the price is not an issue.
... I'm just interested in knowing what game companies are really looking for in a person. Big and small. So that in the end I can actually work in the gaming field.
1. Of course the skills of a game designer are actually sought in the game industry. But if your passion is to program, then you should go for the programming degree. You should go for the degree you're most passionate about, and that your skills and talents are most suited for.
2. It's good that you are considering this criterion. You should consider multiple criteria in making any important decision. Applicability in the industry is one criterion, your passion for the subject is another, your abilities and talents are another...
As for your big company vs. small company question: big companies have game designers who don't necessarily have to wear too many other hats. At small companies, game designers (and everyone else) usually have to wear other hats (not only the game designer hat). You also need to know how to use level design tools, either way.
3. Don't worry about that as much as what you're passionate about. I'm not sure how you define "indi-level" (how many people you expect to work with on a game, or if you're planning on going independent yourself), so maybe you should also take business, marketing, and law classes as well as game development classes.
4. Game companies (especially "indi-level" companies) are not necessarily looking for "game degrees" from a game school. I don't know how far you got with your IT degree, or how old you are. You might not need a degree as much as you need the learning so you can build a passion portfolio. One great benefit you get from game school is the contacts with like-minded fellow students.
Passions, degrees, level design, decision grids, game schools, etc.: