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I wanna make video games? Part II : Gaming degrees

Part II of my "I wanna make games" blog

What education do I need?

In the first part of this series I discussed how to get your foot into the gaming industry by working for a game company. In this part I will talk about another common issue of education.

 One of the other more common questions I get emails about is education and gaming degrees. Whether you plan to work for a game company, or build your own, it is unlikely that you will do so without some sort of formal education. (Not saying it isn’t possible, just unlikely) I will try to cover this topic in a Q and A format derived from the most common questions I get asked.

Q: Should I go for a “gaming degree” at a specialized college?

A: No, I personally don’t believe there is a terrible amount of depth to these degrees. I further think that you will be less likely to be selected as a good candidate for hire over someone with a four year degree at a reputable university. I used to reserve being so harsh on these degrees until I got the opportunity to interview a graduate with a 4.0 from one of the most popular game degree colleges - I will not mention here. He was rated in the top three of his graduating class. Yet he was incapable of solving some of the most basic software engineering problems. I went into the interview with high hopes and left completely dumbfounded that what he learned was considered a bachelors degree.

After that interview, I wondered why there would be such degree programs, and it dawned on me, colleges are in the business to make money too! If Hula Hooping became a big craze, I promise you that these same colleges would offer a degree in Hula Hooping. You’ll also find that state accredited universities don’t offer such degrees.

What a "real" job should look like on the game degree ads.

 

Q: If not a game degree, what kind of degree?

 A: It is my personal opinion that you’re far more likely to be successful by getting a four year degree from a state accredited university. Think of it like this. If you get a gaming degree and spend 40K doing it and can’t get a job in the gaming industry, you probably won’t be picked up in any other sector either. However, if you get a four year degree in computer science, electrical engineering, mathematics, and / or physics you will be far more likely to look attractive to a gaming company. Not to mention, that if you don’t land that dream job in the game industry you will just end up with a 100K per year job writing insurance software until you get an opportunity; Boohoo. As far as majors, I personally favor BS (Bachelor of Science) degrees over BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BAS (Bachelor of Applied Science) degrees. Also I can’t stress this enough; you can’t ever take too much math. Even if you are going to be a 3D modeler, trigonometry is invaluable for modeling with today’s modeling software. So my picks for courses are computer science, mathematics, physics, and electrical engineering courses are a big help if you are going into the development side of things.

So that is my two cents, and then some, on the topic of gaming degrees. I hope this helps you make a more educated decision about your education. Oh, and as the final nail in the coffin...what you see on the game degree commercials showing what your job n the game industry will be like, playing games all day while sitting in Natuzzi leather recliners eating cheese puffs…complete bull!

You can read more and follow me and Neuron Games, Inc. here:

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