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Old 06-13-2008, 09:36 PM   #1
Glass Walker
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Post A couple of questions

Hello, my name is Adam, I am 18, I just started going to community college, and I am interested in being a game designer (a shocking twist for this site, I know). I've been doing some research on the game industry and managed to learn about some important key factors, with some thanks to this site. But there are still some things regarding to education that I'm a little foggy on. Here's one of my questions:

Game Degress.

I've heard some mixed comments concerning game degrees. Some people say that these degrees can teach you everything that you need to know in order to work in the game industry, so long as you choose a good, well recognized college.

Others say that these degrees are next to useless because although they'll teach you about your dream job and you might get hired, you'd be stuck in a dead-end job because game developers prefer game designers who have degrees in "real" subjects, like computers, literature, psychology, and so on.

Does the game industry have an officical opinion on game degrees? Will these degrees be recognized by most game developers or do the developers prefer "real" degrees? Do game developers have have varying opinions on these degrees or is there a definit fact written down by a knowledgable source?

I have more questions but I gotta' get some sleep. I'll appreciate any comment.
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Old 06-14-2008, 01:29 AM   #2
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I can't speak for the entire industry, but I can give you my personal opinion...

When I'm hiring for an entry design or level design position, it honestly rarely makes much difference what degree you have or where it came from. The most important thing is just that you have something concrete to show, to demonstrate that you can do the job... Most often that's mods, but it could also be well written published game reviews or critiques, mini-game programming projects, a well designed web site that focusses on some relevant aspect of the games industry, or almost anything else that shows that you have the aptitudes and motivation to succeed.

The benefit of studying a game degree is that it gives you a whole bunch of time to work on building up a portfolio of things you can show. You'll typically do all manner of projects, from writing design specs through to coding finished games - which you'll then get plenty of criticism and feedback on. This can give you a really nice portfolio of stuff at the end to show future employers. At the same time though, it's nothing that you couldn't do on a non-game degree, if you put your mind to it. For example, if you were to do a traditional pure computer science degree, you could just choose game related topics for course work whenever possible, and come out with an equally strong portfolio.
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Old 06-14-2008, 04:02 AM   #3
yaustar
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The 'general' consensus of the industry is that they want to employ people who are very good in a discipline, such as programming, modelling, animation, etc. They do not want people who are 'jack of all trades, master of none'.

There are many game degrees that will attempt to teach you a bit of everything such as level editing, modelling, programming, etc. These are the ones you definitely want to avoid.

Read: http://scientificninja.com/advice/on-game-schools
And: http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html
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Old 06-14-2008, 05:30 PM   #4
Glass Walker
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Default Just a comment....and another question.

From my understanding, game developers appreciate degrees but are in the end looking for experience. They value experience to the point where I have to wonder if degrees even matter. Would industries be more satisfied with small game projects than they would by academics? Whether the answer is yes or no, I still plan on getting a degree of some sort, I'm just looking for a better understanding of the game industry.

How's this idea?
So far, I'm thinking about getting a bachelor's degree in literature or something related to storytelling because that is what I want to do: tell stories. I'm also thinking that I could start learning a little about Flash and escalate from there. And when I get some experience under my belt, both in storytelling and in making games, I could start applying. If I'll have to get another degree in order to be hired, then I will find some way to get the money for another degree. Does this sound naive, smart, or somewhere in between?

Computer crap

What's the best way to start learning about computers in general? I know that no matter what job you want in the industry or what degree you want, a knowledge of computers will go a long way. The problem is that I know almost nothing about computers. Should I buy "Computers for dummies" or is there a better way?

Is this a real fact?

While on msn, I saw an article title that was something like "Is the Game industry uneffected by recession?" or something like that. I didn't read it becuase I was in a hurry to look up something. So I was wondering if you guys (and gals) could shed some light on the article. Is it true, half-right, or a downright lie?

I'll have more questions in time but for now, I got some other stuff to do. I'll appreciate any comment.
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Old 06-14-2008, 07:26 PM   #5
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A standard CS degree with approppriate courses should give a great general understanding on the topic of computers.

The degrees themselves are worthless as far as I know..
A degree is merely "guaranteeing" that the applicant has a certain level of understanding on the topics covered by his degree. The college works as a "voucher" for the employees quality through the official diploma in this case.

Then it is a whole other thing to actually apply the gained knowledge though.

I personally ride on two carts. Reaching for a masters degree from CS while working on projects for several hours daily. Not only is this routine fun, but hopefully beneficial.

Last edited by DTR : 06-14-2008 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 06-15-2008, 03:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yaustar View Post
The 'general' consensus of the industry is that they want to employ people who are very good in a discipline, such as programming, modelling, animation, etc. They do not want people who are 'jack of all trades, master of none'.
Keep in mind that programmers may find it advisable to know about modelling, animation and level design, as you will be creating a game that accepts assets from those disciplines. You may find yourself required to create plugins or level designers and instruct the artists on how to use them. Just don't spend too much time on each, and not enough on programming.
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Old 06-15-2008, 05:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claxon View Post
Keep in mind that programmers may find it advisable to know about modelling, animation and level design, as you will be creating a game that accepts assets from those disciplines. You may find yourself required to create plugins or level designers and instruct the artists on how to use them. Just don't spend too much time on each, and not enough on programming.
In which case they be 'jack of all trades, master of one' which a lot of developers do fall into.

Quote:
While on msn, I saw an article title that was something like "Is the Game industry uneffected by recession?" or something like that. I didn't read it becuase I was in a hurry to look up something. So I was wondering if you guys (and gals) could shed some light on the article. Is it true, half-right, or a downright lie?
I don't know enough about economy to make a valued judgement but there have been a fair amount of redundancies and studio closures over the last 6 months. However, at the same time, game sales have gone up.

Last edited by yaustar : 06-15-2008 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 06-15-2008, 03:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yaustar View Post
I don't know enough about economy to make a valued judgement but there have been a fair amount of redundancies and studio closures over the last 6 months. However, at the same time, game sales have gone up.
Unless you can see the statistics behind these articles, or they are written by big companies that employee phD economists, they don't always mean a lot. If only I received a prize every time I read an article about market saturation, then suddenly the market "unexpectedly" expanded.
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Old 06-15-2008, 03:39 PM   #9
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During the Great Depression, despite tons of people being unemployed for years, standing in lines for soup kitchens, they still managed to find the money to go watch cartoons and make Snow White and the Seven Dwarves a major success. This was because during times of economic downturns, more people are unemployed so they have more idle time on their hands but less happiness. Media entertainment such as cartoons or games take up time and give people happiness. Therefore they can do well in a recession. People who wonder if the games industry is recession proof are probably thinking back to here.

However, people only had to pay a dime for a cartoon. A lot of videogames nowadays run from $30-$50. We also have to keep in mind that recessions don't really last that long compared to the GD. In the GD seemed almost permanent to some people, so they probably thought "oh what the heck. The economy is so bad, it's not going to get better, there's no point in saving. A little Steamboat Willie isn't going to hurt." In a recession, people may decide to save $$$ they normally spend on games for a better time they believe will come.

Of course, cheap/free online games will probably fare better than multi-million budgeters.
There's also no way of knowing if we're in a recession or not until after the fact, since the definition of a recession is that the economy shrinks for at least 2 economic quarters in a row. So far, we've(the US) only been experiencing a sharp decrease in growth with a couple dropping quarters here and there, but not two in a row. It's still extremely worrisome, but not recession yet.

And according to Adam Smith, economies grow in a spiral model. Market grows, gets saturated, goes down, expansions/new markets open/genius innovations happen and markets start growing again. Definitely what seems to be happening.

yay for economics, the inexact science, where experts are continuously wrong, the subject where nobody's really sure they know what they're talking about
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