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Old 12-05-2012, 02:22 PM   #1
Blaze
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Post Choosing a school and degree program

Hi GCG Forums,

I'm currently in my junior year of high school, and I want to pursue a career in game design after graduating from a university. Specifically, I hope to enter the industry as a level designer. After that, I want to gain enough work experience to become a lead game designer and have complete or near-total creative control over my projects, either by "working up the ladder" in a company or working as an independent game developer. I'd appreciate any comments and advice about this broad plan, as I'm not sure how realistic this plan is, or if there are some important steps I'm missing.

I would also appreciate it if any of you could recommend any universities or undergraduate degree programs. I want to study game design with an emphasis on level design and programming because I want to start out as a level designer, but I'd like to have enough programming knowledge to make something simple, like a 2D platformer game engine, without having to rely on a programmer. Is this reasonable for an undergraduate, or would I need a B.S. in Computer Science to do something like that? Digipen's B.S. in Game Design seems to have what I want, but I was wondering if any like-minded forum members attended other universities that offered a similar or better program. I should also mention that I'm not very good at drawing, so I would much prefer a B.S. degree to a B.A. degree.

In advance, thanks for your help, and please let me know if my thread is in the wrong place or breaks a rule.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: Choosing a school and degree program

Quote:
1. I hope to enter the industry as a level designer. After that, I want to gain enough work experience to become a lead game designer ... either by "working up the ladder" ... or working as an independent game developer. ... I'm not sure how realistic this plan is

2. I would also appreciate it if any of you could recommend any universities or undergraduate degree programs.

3. I want to study game design with an emphasis on level design and programming because I want to start out as a level designer, but I'd like to have enough programming knowledge to make something simple, like a 2D platformer game engine, without having to rely on a programmer. Is this reasonable for an undergraduate, or would I need a B.S. in Computer Science to do something like that?

4. Digipen's B.S. in Game Design seems to have what I want, but I was wondering if any like-minded forum members attended other universities that offered a similar or better program. I should also mention that I'm not very good at drawing, so I would much prefer a B.S. degree to a B.A. degree.

5. In advance, thanks for your help, and please let me know if my thread is in the wrong place or breaks a rule.
Hi, Blaze.
1. Of those two plans, the former is much more realistic/likely than the latter. Without industry experience, it’s very difficult to get work independently (or make a living independently).

2. This website has a list of schools.

3. First of all, a game designer needs a broad education – not a specialized degree. Level design is specialized, though; you need to know some programming, some art, some architecture, and some psychology. It’s not just about using level editing tools. It’s about designing worlds for people to play in.
Secondly, re your question: is your goal reasonable? That depends on you. How much programming have you done so far? (You don’t need to state an answer here -- I ask it so you can ask yourself, because if your answer is “none,” then my answer is “maybe it’s not reasonable for you; I don’t know.”) Making an engine is no small feat.

4. If you want to be a level designer, you need to be able to sketch out levels.

5. I might move it to Starting Out – a lot of us seem to have misunderstood what the “Game Studies” forum was intended for.
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Making games fun and getting them done. www.sloperama.com

PLEASE do not use this website's PM feature to contact me.
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Old 12-05-2012, 11:15 PM   #3
Blaze
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Default Re: Choosing a school and degree program

Mr. Sloper, thanks for your reply and for making an entire website dedicated to giving advice about becoming a game designer! I have a much better idea of what kind of career plan I'll have upon graduation, but I have a few more questions about universities.

You mentioned that a game designer needs a broad education, but a level designer has to be more specialised. I'm also interested in programming, but not as much as I am in game design. Would it be advisable, then, for me to get an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, and then go to a game school (like the Guildhall at SMU) to study level design specifically? If so, would anyone on the forums recommend a "general" Computer Science degree for a future game designer, or would I be better suited with a degree in Computer Science with an emphasis on game development, such as USC's "Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (Games)"? After seeing Mr. Sloper's reply, I'm not sure whether or not I should specialise so early into games.
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Choosing a school and degree program

Quote:
Would it be advisable, then, for me to get an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, and then go to a game school (like the Guildhall at SMU) to study level design specifically? If so, would anyone on the forums recommend a "general" Computer Science degree for a future game designer, or would I be better suited with a degree in Computer Science with an emphasis on game development, such as USC's "Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (Games)"? After seeing Mr. Sloper's reply, I'm not sure whether or not I should specialise so early into games.
Blaze,
All those approaches can get you to the place you should be. YOU have to make this decision; it's YOUR life. Making decisions is what adulthood consists of, and this is your initiation rite.
I recommend that you do all these things:
a. Follow your passions - take courses in subjects you are interested in, pursue activities in areas of interest.
b. Talk to your high school guidance counselor. He or she would be absolutely delighted to get to know you and to help you with this decision.
c. Make a decision grid. Make several decision grids. Make one about your passions, make one about your extracurricular activities and hobbies, make one about college.
d. Do your best in all your classes, even the ones outside your area of interest. Do your best at all your assigned tasks and jobs, even if they're mundane and boring. Figuring out best work practices can lessen the boredom.
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Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done. www.sloperama.com

PLEASE do not use this website's PM feature to contact me.
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:44 AM   #5
Blaze
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Default Re: Choosing a school and degree program

Thanks for your advice; you've answered all of my questions, and I now have a much clearer idea of what I want to study and do after graduating. I'm not sure if this forum locks or closes threads, but I don't think I have any further use for this thread, so please feel free to close it. I'll make another if I have any other questions
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