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Looking to get a degree in Game Development


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#1 demonized   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 06:57 PM

Hey guys, My name's Gal, I'm 24 from Israel. Recently I'm having some thoughts about moving to the US with a friend and start working my way through a degree in game development as a programmer. I should mention that I have no experience with programming and it is all very new to me. My request, if possible, is to direct me to universities or colleges that teach game programming or even programming that can be used in the game industry or outside of it. I contacted Full Sail University about their game development degree and the tuition fee is through the roof, they want like $75,000 for 21 months and that of course does not include the housing fees. So, if anyone can help and direct me to a cheaper yet decent school that I can actually afford in this life time, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks, Gal.

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#2 KaptainKomunist   Members   -  Reputation: 300

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Posted 21 October 2009 - 08:54 PM

Quote:
Original post by demonized
Hey guys,

My name's Gal, I'm 24 from Israel.

Recently I'm having some thoughts about moving to the US with a friend and start working my way through a degree in game development as a programmer. I should mention that I have no experience with programming and it is all very new to me.

My request, if possible, is to direct me to universities or colleges that teach game programming or even programming that can be used in the game industry or outside of it. I contacted Full Sail University about their game development degree and the tuition fee is through the roof, they want like $75,000 for 21 months and that of course does not include the housing fees.

So, if anyone can help and direct me to a cheaper yet decent school that I can actually afford in this life time, I would greatly appreciate it.



Thanks,
Gal.


To be honest, full sail and those other programs aren't very well respected. A traditional university with an accredited mathematics or computer science program will probably do you better off in the long run, as long as programming is what you are in to.

Joining a professional organization, such as ACM or IEEE, they tend to have conferences, job fairs, all sorts of things, is probably what is going to help your resume the best. A game programming job is a lot like a lot of other programming jobs. They look at your extra curriculars as much as your course work. Having a portfolio of projects you've worked on can help out as well.

But before you do any of this, make sure programming is what you really want to do. Only a very small part of coding is typing stuff into an editor. The largest part is being able to solve problems. Check out http://www.projecteuler.net/ A lot of these you should be able to write out on paper or at least think about how to go through. These are pretty complex thought problems, and by no means a representative sample of what you will be doing in the game industry, but they are some programming problems none the less.


#3 demonized   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 01:06 AM

Thank you for the reply and the warning regarding these kind of programs.

Will it be possible than to recommend on a decent traditional university where I can get a computer science degree ? Before I can even have a resume, I need to have the knowledge, no ? :)

#4 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 6621

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 03:11 AM

Moved to Breaking In.

#5 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9508

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 03:29 AM

Here's my usual links on this topic:
How to choose a college/university
How to choose a degree
Regular college vs. game school
More about regular college vs. game school
And still more about regular college vs. game school
Appearances don't matter as much as you think

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#6 Josh Petrie   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3111

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 04:00 AM

Here's my opinion on the subject.

Josh Petrie | Core Tools Engineer, 343i | Microsoft C++ MVP


#7 Acticore   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 01:54 PM

I would avoid going to a game-specific school if I were you. I would even avoid a degree aimed specifically towards game design, unless you plan to supplement it with a traditional computer science degree. Game degrees are fairly new, and computer science degrees have been the main key into programming games professionally since practically the birth of video games (I say practically because back in the old days it was a lot easier to work out of your garage making small, one-man project games).

I think the best option would be to go for a computer science degree, and possibly supplement it with a minor or double major in game development (if you go to a school offering a game dev. degree). From what I've heard, most major game development companies will be more likely to hire you knowing that you've received a tradition computer science education since that's the way the industry's been working for a while now. They'll probably hire you with a game development degree too, if they feel that you're capable of doing the work that they need you for, but I think it would be a better idea to make the computer science degree your main focus and add in a game dev. minor/double major if you're interested in it. I'm sure a combination of both will be even better than the computer science alone (if you can handle it academically), but if you want to go one way or the other, the computer science route is probably the better choice.

I don't have any experience working professionally in game development; I'm still a student. What I've stated is just what I've heard said a lot. I do believe it's true though, as I hear similar responses to many of these questions, and as a lot of professionals tend to give out this type of response.

I'm not sure what level you're at academically and what your extra curriculars are like, so it's hard to list the best schools to look into. Instead I'll list a few good school and order them by admissions difficulty.

These schools are commonly regarded as the best schools for computer science in general:

1. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
2. Stanford
3. UC Berkeley
4. Carnegie Mellon (CMU)
5. UIUC (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

They're all pretty hard to get into, though you might have some more luck with the last three. Most of these probably aren't the schools you want to look for if you just want to end up in industry making games. These are more of the schools you'd want to go to if you want to make some kind of impact on the world after you graduate. If you want to hold a lead position, or revolutionize something, than go for these. Carnegie Mellon might be a pretty good choice though if you just want to work in the game industry since it has a pretty good art program too.

Another good school for computer science, and possibly the best school for game development, from what I've heard, is the University of Texas at Austin. Penn State is another good choice, and it's easier to get into than the other schools (about 50% admission rate).

A school that's not too hard to get into (though not totally easy) is RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology). They offer an interactive games and media degree (essentially game dev) and they have a pretty good computer science degree. A school in the same state that commonly gets confused with RIT is RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute). This is my college, and from what I've seen and heard, it has a pretty good reputation. It's an engineering school, but it also has a good computer science program, and it offers a game development degree. One warning I'll give you for this school: it doesn't have the greatest social life, and you're pretty much trapped on campus due to the quality of the city. If you're ok with focusing mainly on school and not leaving campus often, then this is a good choice. Otherwise it's not. A lot of people claim that this school makes them miserable, while some others absolutely love it. It's really up to what you're looking for.

Other schools to look into:

- Georgia Tech
- UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles)
- University of Southern California, Los Angeles
- WPI (Worscester Polytechnic Institute)

With the exception of UCLA, these schools aren't too hard to get into as long as you're a good student and you have decent to pretty good extra curriculars. They've all got reputations above average too, so don't worry about them not being good schools (especially UCLA, which is usually ranked between 20th and 25th nationally by U.S. News).

I don't know how much help that all is to you, but hopefully you can dig out some advice to apply to your goals from that.

#8 Acticore   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 02:04 PM

You might also want to look into Virginia Tech.

#9 OrenGL   Members   -  Reputation: 228

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 08:11 PM

Gal,

I came to the US to pursue a career in the games industry, as you are interested in doing, but I did my computer science degree in Israel before coming.

Other than getting good grades the most important asset in helping me get my first job was my game demo. At a game specific school you'll often write a few game related projects you can show off when seeking a job. However I still would recommend getting a traditional computer science degree, since I do believe that it prepares you better for solving new problems, which is a much more useful skill in the long run. On caveat is that it is not uncommon to see a graduate who does not know how to program. When someone hires you they want you to be effective. Make sure you you complete your degree feeling comfortable programming in C++ and can prove it.

As far as schools go, try and find a school in a city that has a lot of developers. San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, LA. The more the better. These cities host large game related conferences (such as GDC, E3 or PAX) and many small ones too. It will also make it easier for you to find an internship.

Good luck!

#10 LionMX   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 22 October 2009 - 08:49 PM

Pick a computer science degree over a game development degree, its a very sad world we live in and unfortunately there is a large stigma attached to the name "game". People are stupid and believe that games development means you sit in front of a computer playing games for 8 hours a day..... also, if for any reason you change your mind about the games industry when you finish your degree, getting a job in general IT can be tough with a games degree- despite its scientific nature.

Hope this helps.

#11 jackolantern1   Members   -  Reputation: 158

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 05:34 AM

As far as I know, the only exception to the "game schools not respected" rule is Digipen. Digipen was the first game development school that I am aware of, as they got started back in the Super Nintendo days. It is notoriously hard to get in to though.

#12 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9508

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 06:00 AM

Quote:
Original post by jackolantern1
As far as I know, the only exception to the "game schools not respected" rule

There are several game schools that have good reputations. That doesn't mean that every wannabe HAS to go to one of those schools, or that that's even the best way for most to go.
MANY factors need to be taken into consideration, not only rep.

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#13 kevinb   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 04:12 PM

Gal, have you considered getting a computer programming degree? The courses that are taught as a part of a computer programming degree program are sufficient to get your foot in the door. You get to know languages like C, C++ and JAVA for game development. Computer programming degrees like the ones offered by CCSD help you develop a strong foundation in C, C++ and JAVA. Not only that, but going ahead this would also broaden your career scope since you have the flexibility to switch careers. Check out the computer programming degree offered by CCSD. I am sure that it would meet your requirements.




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