Distance learning has taken off as a great alternative to those who want a specialized education but cannot or do not want to leave their respective location. This is also a great opportunity if they choose to not go to their local community college and pursuit a more intensive schedule. Where students go to school is a decision that should ultimately be made by the students themselves. Just as Sir Isaac Newton said, “For every action there is an equal yet opposite reaction…” there are consequences for this big decision that prospective designers/programmers/artists make. As a student at Full Sail University – Online (B.S. in Game Design), I feel that I have made the correct choice for myself. It may not be right for the next person, but it suits me. As my education has progressed and I began creating Game Design Documents then fleshing them out in Unity 3D, I realized that my progression as a student and as an independent developer has grown by leaps and bounds. I began to think: “Why?” It soon became clear to me what was the driving/supporting force behind my development.
The Philadelphia IGDA chapter has been more than amazing with their student body population. As a member of the chapter I have been able to grow in my programming, design and art by networking and working with local developers. At the Philadelphia IGDA, they foster a sense community. This community feeling has made students (like myself) to take full advantage of my hometown. Asides from the monthly chapter meetings, they make an effort to keep an open line of communication between each other and are more than happy to give feedback on a project or even help out. A student couldn’t ask for a better location to begin their career.
Are other students doing the same? Do they realize they might be standing on a gold mine of experience and feedback?
As a student and developer, I can only hope so. Some high school students may feel that this life dream of being a game developer is too far fetched. I am here to say it isn’t. It won’t be easy. It will be an unimaginable amount of work. There will be late nights. From my perspective, it seems this is one of the few industries that is based on passion. Having that “fire” and burning desire to want to make games because you can, is the best thing a developer can have. This is in no way denouncing the worth of an education, but merely a call to arms to all the students out there. No matter where you are, there is most likely a local IGDA chapter. Go to the meetings. Be proactive. Pick their brains. Your future is in your hands. Do with it what you will.
Jump in. The water is warm.