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Students: Tips for Learning Game Development Over the Summer

Summer is a great opportunity to improve one’s skills, learn more about your craft, and increase your odds of a game studio finding you attractive. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to have some time to devote to ideas that have been bouncing around in your head.

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This article is cross-posted from The Game Prodigy, a site for students and parents interested in careers in games. Visit today to download the free 29-page Complete Game Development Toolkit!

Recently one of my students I advise, a freshman in college, asked me what he should be working on over the summer to prepare himself for a career in games. School breaks, either during the summer or the winter, are wonderful times of the year for students, time when you can take a break from the stress of school and spend time with friends, family, and your personal projects. By the third year of college, students are looking for internships and job opportunities. Earlier on they may be working to earn some money during the summer for spending on the side or to help pay for school.

But summer is also the time when top students pull ahead. Summer is a great opportunity to improve one’s skills, learn more about your craft, and increase your odds of a game studio finding you attractive. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to have some time to devote to ideas that have been bouncing around in your head for a long time! So what are some things you can do over the summer to become a better game developer?

Pick a Fun Project

The first is to work on a game project. This can be done alone or with friends, but I highly encourage all students to just get started. If you haven’t downloaded it already, be sure to sign up for the Future Game Developers Newsletter on the right so that you can get a free copy of the Complete Game Development Toolkit. This will help you find tools and software to get you going and simple planning techniques to help you keep going. In addition to learning new skills, finishing a simple game project over the summer will benefit you by giving you something you could put on a resume or talk about in a job interview.

Learning a new programming language or a new type of software is another great way to spend free time during the summer. Have you ever coded in XNA or C#? Maybe you’ve never used the Unity Engine but are interested in learning. Or if you’re an artist, perhaps the summer is a great time to get your hands on a program like Maya or Adobe Illustrator and start learning the in’s and out’s of these industry standard programs. Grabbing onto a piece of software and then building and creating as much work as you can is really the best way to learn.

A final idea that you or your child, if they are in school, might want to think about is making some practice pieces for your portfolio. Try to create a few pieces that are your absolute best work, candidates to go on your portfolio. You might also consider setting up a website for your portfolio so that you can start getting some feedback and showing off your work to other artists. This is a great way to use your time wisely to move towards your dream job.

Relax and Learn

When I work with students I try to help them plan out their summer by breaking it into months. Get familiar with a program/project and get started in May, build something they can show people by June, improve and polish it in July, and then allow August for any slip ups and launching it online or sharing it with friends. This can be a reasonable schedule if you plan right.

Enjoy your break when it comes!

This article is cross-posted from The Game Prodigy, a site for students and parents interested in careers in games. Visit today to download the free 29-page Complete Game Development Toolkit!

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