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Break into... University


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#1 cifa   Members   -  Reputation: 203

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:31 PM

Hi there,
First of all I'm sorry if my English is bad, but I'm really trying to improve it, so I beg you to point out any error.

I'm currently a student of Computer Science at La Sapienza University in Rome with top marks, and probably my final score will be the highest possible (110 out of 110, hopefully). My goal for 2013 is to get into MSc Games Programming, there's something I want to ask

1- There are some "hidden" extra requirements or good BSc is sufficient ? If it's not, what can I do ?
2- My biggest concern is that here in Italy we do nothing about Games Programming (and no C++, some C and some Java) and little practice in general (lot of theoretical stuff). Is the course suitable for such situation ? Sadly I have no spare time so I haven't a chance to learn something by my own, however if it is very important, please tell me what should I do :D My games programming experience is limited to some very basic stuff with processing.org (too basic) :(


Thank you for your attention!

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#2 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 13260

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 04:52 AM

Frankly I think you are doing yourself a severe disservice by trying to get such a degree.

Firstly, there is no reason to have such a degree for a regular game-programming job.
Secondly, having such a degree prohibits you from getting regular game-programming jobs. People with degrees are old and feel entitled to a larger starting salary, which, combined with their lack of actual work-place experience, makes companies shy away from hiring them.

Point-in-case is my very first job.
I dropped out of high-school but got a GED. Moved to Thailand and got the first game-programming job for which I applied. The owner later told me, when some prestigious University applicants arrived, that the doesn’t usually even consider hiring them because they will ask for too much money without any proof that they know what they are doing.
Anyone can get good grades in school. Only an actual portfolio made alone shows what your actual skills are (though a long list of previous work experiences helps).


Here is the thing.
You said so yourself that getting a job in Italy is not exactly so easy. You are basically forced to look overseas as I did (though I am from America, and chose to work overseas for the sake of a super-fun life). And my company serves as an example in that you are lowering your chances at an entry-level job the higher your education goes. We could have applied at the same company on the same day, but you would be 4 years older, and I would have gotten the job.

It is best to just get into the industry as soon as you can. No one is going to hire you at a higher wage if you have no work-place experience, proved by my current job which actually did hire someone on the same day as myself, except that he spent the last 4 years studying whereas I spent the last 4 years working in the industry. He got the base salary whereas mine is more than double his.


Build a portfolio and get into the industry as fast as you can. Work experience is far more important than educational background. And remember, you are going to take a base salary no matter which way you go. Might as well not be 4 years older when you get it.


L. Spiro
It is amazing how often people try to be unique, and yet they are always trying to make others be like them. - L. Spiro 2011
I spent most of my life learning the courage it takes to go out and get what I want. Now that I have it, I am not sure exactly what it is that I want. - L. Spiro 2013
I went to my local Subway once to find some guy yelling at the staff. When someone finally came to take my order and asked, “May I help you?”, I replied, “Yeah, I’ll have one asshole to go.”
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#3 cifa   Members   -  Reputation: 203

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 05:16 AM

Frankly I think you are doing yourself a severe disservice by trying to get such a degree.

Firstly, there is no reason to have such a degree for a regular game-programming job.
Secondly, having such a degree prohibits you from getting regular game-programming jobs. People with degrees are old and feel entitled to a larger starting salary, which, combined with their lack of actual work-place experience, makes companies shy away from hiring them.

Point-in-case is my very first job.
I dropped out of high-school but got a GED. Moved to Thailand and got the first game-programming job for which I applied. The owner later told me, when some prestigious University applicants arrived, that the doesn’t usually even consider hiring them because they will ask for too much money without any proof that they know what they are doing.
Anyone can get good grades in school. Only an actual portfolio made alone shows what your actual skills are (though a long list of previous work experiences helps).


Here is the thing.
You said so yourself that getting a job in Italy is not exactly so easy. You are basically forced to look overseas as I did (though I am from America, and chose to work overseas for the sake of a super-fun life). And my company serves as an example in that you are lowering your chances at an entry-level job the higher your education goes. We could have applied at the same company on the same day, but you would be 4 years older, and I would have gotten the job.

It is best to just get into the industry as soon as you can. No one is going to hire you at a higher wage if you have no work-place experience, proved by my current job which actually did hire someone on the same day as myself, except that he spent the last 4 years studying whereas I spent the last 4 years working in the industry. He got the base salary whereas mine is more than double his.


Build a portfolio and get into the industry as fast as you can. Work experience is far more important than educational background. And remember, you are going to take a base salary no matter which way you go. Might as well not be 4 years older when you get it.


L. Spiro

Thanks for sharing your experience, it's actually something I've never thought about.

I'm actually younger than my colleagues, I will be graduated at the age of 21 and if all plans go as predicted I will finish my Msc at the age of 22 (MsC in UK is 1 year, isn't it ?). Will I be considered old ? (I'm not being sarcastic).

Here in Italy BSc is 3-year-long and I'm finishing this month exams for the 2nd-year. Considering my marks I'm not into the idea of dropping now, also because if I "fail" as a game developer I've a good background to apply for other programming jobs, and for those in Italy a degree is necessary.

Considering this it's still a waste of time spending 1-year doing a Msc ? If it's a timing matter, I'll probably have to study during this "gained" year by my own, knowing that my games programming experience is zero. If it's a money matter, can't I ask for "basic" salary if first tries of getting job fails ?

I'm sorry if I seem arrogant or sarcastic, but believe me I'm not, it's probably due to my lack of English skill!

Thank you

#4 Madhed   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2781

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 07:08 AM

If studying is "your thing", and it seems to be like that from your description. Why don't you get your masters in a more general compsci field. There are lots of projects to do that are not entirely games programming related but will be appreciated when you apply for such a job. e.g computer graphics, artificial intelligence, software engineering, user interfaces, ... etc.
Maybe you can even work for a games company and do you masters thesis as a project for them. I know some guys who did this, maybe it's a possibility.
However, if someday you decide that game development is not the right thing for you (happens often, even if you can't imagine that now) you still have a solid cs background to apply somewhere else.

just my 0,02€.

#5 cifa   Members   -  Reputation: 203

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 07:46 AM

If studying is "your thing", and it seems to be like that from your description. Why don't you get your masters in a more general compsci field. There are lots of projects to do that are not entirely games programming related but will be appreciated when you apply for such a job. e.g computer graphics, artificial intelligence, software engineering, user interfaces, ... etc.
Maybe you can even work for a games company and do you masters thesis as a project for them. I know some guys who did this, maybe it's a possibility.
However, if someday you decide that game development is not the right thing for you (happens often, even if you can't imagine that now) you still have a solid cs background to apply somewhere else.

just my 0,02€.


Uhm yup, studying is my thing, BUT in order to do well I need to have a precise goal that stimulates me. Doing more general stuff could be probably the best choice, but right now that prespective don't makes me either happy or motivated, so choosing this way probably will lead me to a decreasing of my studying performace.
Picking a good MSc in Games Programming (and I think Hull's one is good) and having on my back a top marks BSc in Computer Science is so much worse than : same BSc + MSc in let's say CG ?

#6 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20220

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 11:21 AM

First, make sure you finish your bachelors degree. It will open many doors.

Second, on the masters degree, that is a preference. It will not open many additional doors at the entry level, but it will open doors later in your career.

Those with a masters degree tend to progress through jobs faster; they tend to progress to mid-level faster, partly because of what they learned and partly because of perceptions. When changing jobs it is an additional bargaining chip for negotiating salary and they tend to earn more. Later in their career it is easier to move between jobs at the middle level -- such as development director or project lead -- when you have a both the experience AND a masters degree than you could with just the experience alone.

Do not pursue a masters degree if that is not your passion. Many people dislike the academic environment and are glad to be rid of it. But if that is your passion then follow it, and enjoy the opportunities it unlocks.

(I went to graduate school as well. I've been in positions where I can compare BS and MS graduates and how they perform for years at their career. I know it was worth it for me, and know several other people who would say it was worth it for them.)
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#7 cifa   Members   -  Reputation: 203

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 11:50 AM

First, make sure you finish your bachelors degree. It will open many doors.

Second, on the masters degree, that is a preference. It will not open many additional doors at the entry level, but it will open doors later in your career.

Those with a masters degree tend to progress through jobs faster; they tend to progress to mid-level faster, partly because of what they learned and partly because of perceptions. When changing jobs it is an additional bargaining chip for negotiating salary and they tend to earn more. Later in their career it is easier to move between jobs at the middle level -- such as development director or project lead -- when you have a both the experience AND a masters degree than you could with just the experience alone.

Do not pursue a masters degree if that is not your passion. Many people dislike the academic environment and are glad to be rid of it. But if that is your passion then follow it, and enjoy the opportunities it unlocks.

(I went to graduate school as well. I've been in positions where I can compare BS and MS graduates and how they perform for years at their career. I know it was worth it for me, and know several other people who would say it was worth it for them.)


Thanks Posted Image It's probably what I'll do, however do you know if usually MSc provide education from zero ? I mean, I've explained my situation in the first post, I've to do something extra now in your opinion ?

Edited by cifa, 19 June 2012 - 11:57 AM.


#8 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 20220

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 12:13 PM

Thanks It's probably what I'll do, however do you know if usually MSc provide education from zero ?

Most masters programs assume you are starting with a bachelors degree. A few programs are accelerated BS+MS programs, but they generally are called out as such.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#9 cifa   Members   -  Reputation: 203

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 12:21 PM


Thanks It's probably what I'll do, however do you know if usually MSc provide education from zero ?

Most masters programs assume you are starting with a bachelors degree. A few programs are accelerated BS+MS programs, but they generally are called out as such.


Well I'll have a BS in CS, but nothing related to games :\ That's my main fear

#10 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9475

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 02:24 PM

1. Well I'll have a BS in CS, but nothing related to games :\
2. That's my main fear


1. Solution: build a game portfolio after you graduate.
2. Read FAQ 47 on fear: http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson47.html#fear

Edited by Tom Sloper, 19 June 2012 - 02:24 PM.

-- 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.




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