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TheSnowStorm

Your Gaming Degrees ARE WORTHLESS!!!

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http://arstechnica.com/journals/thumbs.ars/2008/08/26/why-your-gaming-degree-may-be-a-waste-of-time

For many forward-looking students still chugging through academia in the search of something to love, gaming degrees can seem like the holy grail, as you get to learn about games on the path to actually making them. The truth is the industry is a much rougher place than it lets on, and some big names in the industry, including Sony, have spoken out against these academic programs.

Britain's Mail Online has reported that a number of the country's biggest industry members have warned against pursuing game-specific degrees. Jamie MacDonald, the vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios Europe, said outright that he couldn't "remember the last time [he] employed someone from them." Britain's David Braben, of Frontier Developments fame, reiterated a similar sentiment, saying that he was "'shocked and surprised' at how little some graduates knew."

This is an issue that's particularly close to my heart, as I have been very close to the game development scene here in Canada. Having attended the University of Waterloo for Computer Science, I studied alongside many who had aspirations of developing games, others who abandoned university altogether to move to trade schools, and a select few who have started to enter the industry at home and abroad with companies like Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and Bioware.

Anecdotally, it has become painfully clear that many of these trade schools are degree mills designed specifically to reap the rewards of offering naive students what amounts to a mirage. This isn't just my own perception; nearly every developer I've talked to on the matter has said that a general computer science (or fine art, digital media, or what have you) degree from a good university is worth infinitely more than a specialized trade school degree. A few lucky souls may wind up producing art or doing programming for projects directly out of trade school, but for the vast majority, unemployment at the hands of a limited skill set will be the unfortunate reality.

For the most part, American video game trade schools such as DigiPen and Fullsail are more productive than the Canadian and European counterparts, but when it comes to post-secondary study, absorbing as much broad knowledge and not limiting yourself to a single pursuit is always the better strategy for most. When you're throwing down big bucks and potentially going into debt for that piece of paper, you want to make sure it's as valuable and flexible as possible coming out the other end. Should you want something more specific, pursue it after you've got a good amount of background knowledge and skills.

If you're considering entering school to pursue a specialized video game trade degree or diploma, ensure that you've done the proper research and spoken to as many people as possible about the issue. While it may not be glamorous to envision yourself pursuing a general and perhaps boring basic computer science, fine arts, or a digital media degree, in most cases those programs will in fact net you the skills and experience you'll need to pursue your real goal of doing what you love, be it game development or otherwise.

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The thing you have to remember with many technologically-based degrees is that they often are hard-pressed to keep up with the industry in terms of software and methodologies. With places like Adobe pumping out new Suites every year and a half, and new technologies becoming popular by the year, it's hard for the school to keep up. With any of these sorts of degrees, the onus often falls upon the student to make up the ground that the programs have weaknesses in through industry research. That has been my experience with multimedia degrees in general. You will live and die by the work that you produce. The degree serves as a piece that shows that you have the dedication to slog through four years of college classes to earn a bachelor's in your field, not necessarily that you are an expert in your field. You determine that by your actions.

Choosing the type of school that you attend is an immensely personal process that requires you to recognize the type of environment that best fits your educational growth. I have my opinions on particular schools, certainly, but where I see a degree mill, a person who attended the school saw an excellent experience with what they thought were good professors, which is why it is hard to say that you or anyone else should go to DigiPen or FullSail instead of a traditional uni.

I don't know if this is what skews the facts or not, but it seems like they are arguing that traditional uni makes you more well-rounded as opposed to a specialist, that you could program anything as opposed to just video games, so of course that would seem better because people are getting jobs out of industry as well as in it, so job placement seems greater. Maybe I'm wrong on their meaning, but this is how I interpreted the article. I think it's just a matter of knowing your own mind. Some people prefer application, while some people like the academic atmosphere of traditional uni because it prepares them to absorb the information they need. I think it's a bit of a flawed article in that it seems to assume that everyone's mind and learning mechanisms work in the same way.

As with many of these types of degrees, you get out of them the amount of work and dedication that you put into them. A person determined to be in the industry will do well to do all they can to know all they can, and take full advantage of resources available, regardless of the institution that they are attending.

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I could have told you this. Don't be suckered in by those shitty TV and gaming magazine ads, guys. In these types of fields, your portfolio is vastly more important than whatever school you came from. The same can be said for musicians as well. You can go to FullSail and learn to be a producer, but it won't count for shit if you still don't know what you're doing. Plus, I'm sure a lot of people are sick of getting graduates from these schools applying for jobs and not knowing anything, and as a result there's likely a growing bias against them.

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This does not surprise me at all. The only time to limit one's studies is when there is a very specific field that a degree can practically guarantee employment, and unfortunately for today's college students, the only such degrees tend to be achieved in the post-college world of Med-school, law-school, and other professional areas. This assertion is not to be misunderstood as indicative of a belief that a college degree with specificity is worthless, but the reality is that colleges where students are not exposed to material beyond their specific degree tend not to have as much pull in the employment world. Exceptions abound, of course, and this is by no means the rule, but it is the trend.

As a five-year GameStop employee, I have worked with a number of people who aspire to be in the video game industry on the production side. Several of them went to a community college that offers a game design major, and all but one either did not finish the program (it's not as fun as it sounds to a kid just out of high school) or were unable to get a job (no surprise that Nintendo wasn't hiring). One did manage to get a job with some company, but I haven't spoken to him in a while, so I'm not sure what he does, or even what company it was.

I remember one of the arguments between my parents and myself when I was in 9th grade; I was playing Majora's Mask at the time, and my dad was complaining that I wasn't putting enough effort into school (largely because I had 7 A's or B+'s and 1 B- since I absolutely suck at math). He said that games weren't going to earn me any money in the future, so I shouldn'd dedicate as much time in playing them; I, of course, disagreed. He was partially right (I'm kind of divorced from the gaming world at the moment thanks to school), and partially wrong, given my tenure with GameStop. My point in this story is that a lot of others probably had a similar argument, but never came to the same conclusion, that games could not be the dedication of their lives.

To those who pursue the "dream job" of game designer, I commend you, and I especially commend you on your efforts to get a degree in that field. I would caution you, like the article above, that a specialized degree will be meaningless without some Liberal Arts material in there as well. Pursue the dream, but do so within the confines of reality.

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Ah, I'm so happy I went to a community college first INSTEAD of going to a four-year papermill like UAT or FullSail! With that in mind, I'm thinking of going into Audio Programming and Music Theory as my minors and major then getting an Interactive Media degree at another community college or normal university.

So, it's that bad, huh? Poor suckers who went to a Game Design school early.

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To those who pursue the "dream job" of game designer, I commend you, and I especially commend you on your efforts to get a degree in that field. I would caution you, like the article above, that a specialized degree will be meaningless without some Liberal Arts material in there as well. Pursue the dream, but do so within the confines of reality.

Odd coincedence: I just finished a questionaire for my fundamentals of software design course ,one of the questions was what is your dream job, to which I answered, "videogame designer, but apparently thats about as easy becoming mafia boss while being fully kenyan, so Ill just aim for designer and see where I end up"

Glad someone encourages us, unlike coughnekofrog . Storm, Ive heard that Computer Science is one of the best majors to take for a career in gaming. Im dual majoring in CS and software engineering, it turns out theres like a 6 course difference between the two, which is freaking awesome. After that its 4 years as an officer in the us army, probably being a first lieutenant or captain when I leave. Now my original plan whas to enter a graduate program at didgipen or something, but tuition is absolutely not something I would pay, and this article sealed the deal as far as that. Can anyone give me advice or anything as far as what will raise my chances?

and haha devry commercial= retarded

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protip:

75% of degrees aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

this

just because high school tells you that college and university is real real important doesn't mean they were telling the truth

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Besides the obligatory computer-science-from-great-program-schools, most companies tend to hire people of various majors, like communications, english, physics, and even business. I wouldn't mind working for and probably will apply to game companies in the future, and im a Comm-television production major. On top of that, experience and internships are worth 150% more than what your major is and what GPA you got.

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this

just because high school tells you that college and university is real real important doesn't mean they were telling the truth

So true. They're just saying that so that that school district looks good on sending their students off to college. Just because some ignorant ass ghetto black kids don't wanna go to college does not give the school the right to lie to other students. I came from an inner-city high school district and they always tell us "Go to college! Get a degree!" Just to look fuckin' good in the media when these bullshit stats come around.

There are many successful people that didn't went to college or got a college degres (excluding modern mainstream rappers who are causing young black men to become ignorant ass niggas.)

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Thank you for telling me this just before I head off to my final year at college for Game Development.

Granted, it's at an actual technology and arts college, so the stuff I produce might actually be worth a damn.

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Well, having a degree is extremely important for the majority of jobs. Even in the arts, it still looks better to have some sort of degree as opposed to no college education. Plus, considering how volatile creative fields are, especially music, you don't know if your skillset will be outsourced or made obsolete - if that happens, you'll regret not having a degree. Not to mention going to college gives you access to an immense amount of knowledge that would be otherwise very hard to come by, not just in your field of choice, and that you perhaps would not have thought to learn by yourself.

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God, yes. I think my communication skills have increased tenfold since I started college.

I take an ethics course this year. Silly government laws mandating oddly-connected courses to supplement the main material. Last year was film studies.

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+ get some communication skills. What good are you on a team if you can't listen or guide others? (...oh crap, my life is screwed)

I was thinking about communication as well.

Hmm . . . where can I gain experience in communication outside of college (such as an internship or volunteering )

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I was thinking about communication as well.

Hmm . . . where can I gain experience in communication outside of college (such as an internship or volunteering )

Army mothafucka!!!! communication officer after I get my bachelors. Its going to be raw. If youre not a fat piece of shit then you should definitely look into rotc. definitely. get you out of that community college and into something more expensive for free.

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Gee whiz, if only there were somebody actually IN the game's industry to share his boundless knowledge.

Oh yes...

I'll keep this brief, my little chick-a-dees. In the end, the industry couldn't care less what education you have. Oh, I'm sure internally there's *slightly* more clout for some one with a degree in a related field. But really, a degree has as much gravity as the alignment of stars on the day of your birth.

You know what all the industry looks for with an unflinching eye? Results, results, results.

If candidate A has a degree in Industrial psychology, game development, and communications and candidate B made 10 flash games in his mom's basement, candidate B is far in the lead. Now naturally, you'd never have a rift that preposterous, but the point still stands.

Your degree isn't worthless, per se. It simply will never ever take the place of a concrete example of what you want to do in the industry. If you want to be a game designer, you'd better have some sort of game demo. Would you want to hire anyone who simply played games or had a really neato-idea in a 500 word doc?

The point I'm trying to make from my haughty loft far above all of you, sipping brandy in a chair made from the skin of pregnant widows, is that you have to do what you are meant to do. Education is grand. But it's very likely you'll be competing with people with that same education. How then, my dear Wiggans, will you stand out?

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I was going to say that I refused to listen to anything John Burnett said until he submitted another mix. Seriously, feed the meter bitch.

But then I read the beginning of the last paragraph and decided not to. Where the fuck did you even come UP with that?

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I was going to say that I refused to listen to anything John Burnett said until he submitted another mix. Seriously, feed the meter bitch.

But then I read the beginning of the last paragraph and decided not to. Where the fuck did you even come UP with that?

Dude, they sell pregnant-widow-skin chairs at IKEA. It's called "EKTORP"

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hold on guys i just need to tighten up the graphics-

edit:

The point I'm trying to make from my haughty loft far above all of you, sipping brandy in a chair made from the skin of pregnant widows

FANTASTIC. WOW

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