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Get a degree or not ?


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I suggest getting a degree if for no other reason it gives you time to grow up, live on your own, and explore your academic interests.

As for getting something specific to the industry, it's a toss up. A lot of game design programs have problems, and a lot of computer science programs never do anything relevant to game design. So I'd say pursue what you're interested in bother inside and outside of the classroom.

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i agree with you mino. university is a good addition to your own personal interests and skills. a degree wont make you a good artist/technician or anything other.

no company will hire you because you have a degree. they might hire you because you are good (due to your experience and maybe some knowledge you got at university) and maybe because the degree shows them that you are a smart ass that has learned how to bite through hard theory :)

though i can talk of my experiences with the industry: there are a lot of people who have a degree and there are as many who got there only because of their skills and have no bachelor or master or diploma at all. so its pretty much a decision you make for your own personal interest. but as long as it is cheap and educational nobody should miss the fun of being a student at a university.

oh and while studying you can improve your skills and get a higher market value :P


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Personally, the best thing I've found about doing a games degree is that pretty much everyone on campus either works in the industry, has worked in the industry or wants to. So it gives you something of a leg up in regards to knowing the right people, It always comes in handy when you're going in to interview for a job and you already know the guy interviewing you.

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I totally agree with what you said. If you look at the likes of Valve's job pages nowadays, there is a tendency to favour people with academic backgrounds (and by that I'm not talking about formal programming qualifications, I'm talking about people who have art/design/architecture degrees for positions that have traditionally been filled by people with little to no required qualifications).

Something John Carmack said also rings true with me. Carmack went to university and then quit because he felt he wasn't learning anything as he was already smarter than his professors. However, he then realised that he didn't make the most of his learning opportunities when there. At university you have a wide array of lecturers and students who have varying levels of experience. If you just treat university as a closed situation (in that you are given a task, then you go away and do it by yourself, only asking questions when you get stuck on something) then you won't be making the most of it. Now, I'm not smarter than most of my lecturers and fellow students like Carmack was, but I can appreciate what he means. Even a really gifted person can learn from people who've been around the block and faced many of the challenges that person will face in future -- it's a vast source of knowledge just waiting to be tapped :)

I've found that quite a few of the lecturers I perhaps thought were out of touch turned out to be the people who have been able to give me a new perspective on things I'm doing due to their vast experience. They may not be up with the latest programming techniques etc. but they are very useful when it comes to analysing something and offering some great advice.

A degree also proves that you can stick at something and see it through. In general employment (in the UK at least), degrees are more important in getting a job; by this I mean employers aren't always looking for a specific degree, they are just interested in whether you have one and what the classification is. A degree isn't for everyone, but if you can get one while broadening your knowledge / skills and making yourself more attractive to employers, then it's a good bet.

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It's also worth noting that this is the education you're going to have for the next 60, 70, 80 years. It would suck to be 30, sick of the video game industry, and no degree or job skills outside of development.

I don't mean to harp on people to get a college degree, but I worked as an academic counselor for my college, so it's a subject that I at least have some first hand experience with. The old axiom that half your learn at college comes inside the class room and half comes from outside really does have a lot of merit. Learning to interact with a diverse group of students and their personalities, cultures, politics, etc really does help out in the real world. I know this is probably a more Americanized perspective since American universities tend to be more focused on a well rounded education containing a heavy emphasis in a field, while European universities tend to be more vocational in nature, but a lot of the whole "outside the class" atmosphere is similar from discussions I've had. A college education also gets you used to the notion that sometimes you're just going to be forced to learn and work on subjects that you might not particularly enjoy, but you need to do them anyway. Just some food for thought as somebody that's actually had to sit down and talk to students about what they want to get out of their education/life.

As for the industry in 5 years, who knows. The video game industry is still in its infancy stage. Video game development as a viable career path is about a decade old. The modern structure of the workplace and development cycle is really only about 5 or 6 years old. Some places are moving to extremely large teams where people have small specialties, allowing them to a ship a game faster, but at a smaller profit margin. Others are moving to smaller teams with with broad focuses, allowing for more profit, but a longer dev cycle. Maybe only one is sustainable; maybe bother are; maybe neither are. The big positive sign is that the industry is still growing, and if you have industry level talent and a good work ethic, finding a job won't be hard. But like I said, I can't say it will be like that in 5 years. When I first started at GBX in 2001, everything was still looking good, but I chose to go back and finish my degree, because I thought it was important to play the long term strategy. It's 5 years later, I'm back at GBX with my degree, and the industry is still strong. Sure, I'd be higher up on the ladder and be making more if I had stayed, but I'm still in a comfortable spot and I think I got good value out of my education.

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Even though I got a fantastic job atm, then I am still planning on getting at least a bachelors degree or something in some years. It's simply the fact that I very well might need a degree when I am 30 or 40 - and I know that I certainly don't want to start at university by then.

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I didnt even finish high school and I would never want to trade the last few years in the industry for school, I learned (and earned) a milion times more from just working than from going to a school. In four years time my resume is already a thousand time more powerful than any school paper could ever be.

However, while school is not essential (if you are good and if you keep trying you WILL have a job, with or without a school) it is also not a bad thing. Unless you are seriously fed up with school Id stick to it and sit it out because you never know when it comes in handy. Certainly in the long term. That goes for when you want to immigrate to somewhere else or when you want another job in 10 years time.

If you can go to school and give yourself more time to become the best.

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