B) Getting a strong software engineering background, then translating it to game development. (The benefit being that it has a bigger "safety net.")
From what I've read on here, it seems that many agree that it's more effective to take option B. Am I right in thinking this?
Programmers who write game code are still programmers. Become a good programmer and you can work anywhere inside or outside the games industry.
To be fair, most people do argue for option B, and I think that mostly comes down to what I mentioned about the degree being less-portable, rightly or wrongly.
But if we focus on "become a good programmer" then you can do that at a place like Digipen or Guildhall too. Sure, a grad from a top CS school like MIT or what-have-you is likely better versed, and is likely in a better place in life by virtue of the name on his degree. But can someone come out of Digipen and be just as competent as the average or even above-average graduate of your typical, good University CS program? Absolutely.
Anecdotally, and I'm sure people have equally anecdotal horror-stories about ex-Digipeners who just squeeked-out a degree, my own interaction with University of Washington students, and interactions I've observed, is that those students and Digipen students were largely on par with each other. We knew some things that they didn't, they knew some things that we didn't, but at the end of the day we could all converse on the same level and solve problems equally well. University of Washington, mind you, is not a run-of-the-mill CS school. They're a top-10 program with an impressive, multi-million-dollar facility, and lots of interesting research going on. I concede this is not a deep analysis or comparison of traits or abilities of these students, but I believe it counts for something.
At the end of the day, I would say that University is, hands-down, the safer route, but that there is no definitive statement one way or the other that its the better route.
The last thing I'm telling the OP is to choose this school or that school. My aim here is merely to share what experience I've had and observations I've made, so that he can make his own choice. However, the tone here is often so seemingly dismissive of Digipen that one could come away with the impression that no Digipen student has ever "stacked up", when in reality, they stack up just as well as University grads, for the most part.
Keep in mind that the typical Digipen grad you see out in the wild looking for work are not always the cream of the crop -- About the top 5 or 10 percent of Digipen's would-be graduates are poached by game companies each year and never officially complete their degrees. Others form their own companies, and others still are so much like their university contemporaries that, once hired into a company, no one ever learns or cares what school they might have gone to. It's really only the poor performers or chronic job-seekers that people notice, and then say "Oh, they went to that school..." when trying to explain it all.
Again, I'm not trying to sell anyone on Digipen or not. It's a school like any other. Which is the point I'm trying to make, really. It shouldn't be put on an altar, nor should it be dismissed out of hand.
I sadly only can give you one vote up here, but your comment deserves a ten fold vote up, for what you write is very wise. The only thing I have noticed as a con about digipen is the tuition fee. I find that the tuition fee is rather high.
Also for the OP the best college for programming is self education(after school/University/college you program in your spare time). Even though my traditionally CS program has taught me some useful stuff I still learn more by reading books about programming and by actually programming(C++/java or some scripting in an engine).
No school can teach you all the stuff.