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Old 03-08-2012, 12:09 PM   #1
LolaVayne
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Lightbulb Helpful Advice for a COMPLETE (non-traditional) Beginner!

Hey there all. I know there are about a million posts like mine, so I'll try to keep it short I recently completed my Bachelor's Degree in a field almost completely unrelated to game design (Music Performance), and after nine months in the real world, I am realizing that 1) I despise working retail and 2) I don't want to spend the rest of my life living with my parents. I am searching for a field in which I can combine my passions for music, writing, art, movies, and fantasy/science fiction into one. While surfing endlessly for jobs yesterday, a little light bulb went off in my head: "What about game design?"

Since then, I have mostly been scouring websites of various colleges and universities in my country (the US) that offer programs in and/or related to game design, and I've quickly realized that passion and interest alone probably aren't going to help me get my foot in the door. I have quite a few questions, most of which pertain to applying/getting into a good school, so any advice would be helpful!

- I have a lot of experience as a performer, a musician (not a composer, but I like making arrangements) and a writer. How would these skills apply to the field of game design?
- Quite a few schools ask for or recommend or require a portfolio. What are they looking for, and whatís the best way to go about building one up?
- There are a lot of schools out there who offer degrees in game art and design, and not all of them have great reviews. How do I separate the winners from the scammers?
- Are there any good (English language) schools outside the US with programs in game design?
- What sort of jobs should I look for NOW that will benefit me, should I decide to pursue a career in the field of game design?
- Iím 23 years old. Do I have to take the SATs and the ACTs again?
- What are some of the off-paper costs of going to school for game design? AKA, how much money am I going to be dropping on software?
- Do you have any suggestions on how to finance my education so my head doesn't explode from all the student loans? (I already have some from my last degree)

I'm sure I will have more questions in the future, but any advice you could give me would be much appreciated. Thanks, everyone!
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Old 03-08-2012, 06:28 PM   #2
tsloper
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Default Re: Helpful Advice for a COMPLETE (non-traditional) Beginner!

Quote:
Quoth Lady Vane:
1- I have a lot of experience as a performer, a musician (not a composer, but I like making arrangements) and a writer. How would these skills apply to the field of game design?
2- Quite a few schools ask for or recommend or require a portfolio. What are they looking for, and what’s the best way to go about building one up?
3- There are a lot of schools out there who offer degrees in game art and design, and not all of them have great reviews. How do I separate the winners from the scammers?
4- Are there any good (English language) schools outside the US with programs in game design?
5- What sort of jobs should I look for NOW that will benefit me, should I decide to pursue a career in the field of game design?
6- I’m 23 years old. Do I have to take the SATs and the ACTs again?
7- What are some of the off-paper costs of going to school for game design? AKA, how much money am I going to be dropping on software?
8- Do you have any suggestions on how to finance my education so my head doesn't explode from all the student loans? (I already have some from my last degree)
1. They apply okay. Not sure what you're asking.
2. Depends on what kind of degree you're seeking: Art? Programming? Design? Level design? Audio? I wrote about portfolios in FAQ 12 on my site (see my signature).
3. We don't necessarily recommend game school degrees. The degree you should get is the degree that you want and can reasonably afford to pay off after graduation. Read FAQs 34 and 44 and 25 on my site.
4. Why do you insist on a game design school? Read FAQ 3.
5. The only one you are qualified for now is QA. Read FAQ 5.
6. You would have to ask the school that question before you apply.
7. Depends. Don't worry about the cost of software. The education is a LOT more expensive.
8. Yes. Read FAQ 65 and FAQ 41.
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Old 03-12-2012, 08:08 PM   #3
Destin Bales
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Default Re: Helpful Advice for a COMPLETE (non-traditional) Beginner!

Hi LolaVayne,

Tsloper has a TON of great info on his site that can help you. Additionally, I've created a site aimed at the absolute beginner as well. You can find it at www.ineedtomakegames.com.

The main advice I would give you based on your post is to try out some hands on game design work before you commit to more schooling. It's possible that you may not like it, OR that you can in fact find a job you love without needing an additional degree. You can do this through either solo indie development or entering the mod community and working with others.

I'd say hang on to your day job a bit longer until you can orient yourself around exactly what it is you want to do.

Good luck and keep us posted of your progress!

- Destin
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