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Newcomer Question - How is the game design career outlook and are you happy?


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#1 RandomMistakes   Members   -  Reputation: 105

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 10:53 AM

I've been recently very interested in learning more about the gaming industry as its always been a hobby of mine (playing, not designing). I'm sure most of you just laughed at me for saying I have no experience, which is understandable and why I'm here.

 

I'm 22 years old and I have a Bachelors in Environmental Design (Architecture) and am 1/3 of the way through my Master of Architecture program at UCLA but I'm getting tired of the state of architectural discourse. Everything seems too strict and political for something I believe should be more grounded in design. Obviously there are reasons behind that, and I don't want a debate. I'm just saying, each day that goes by I'm less sure about my career choice. I'm not looking for something easier. I'm no stranger to the overnight design charette, trust me. I just want something more fun and casual.

What's it like in the gaming design industry?

 

Is there freedom of expression in your job (or, like architecture, unless you own your own firm you're really just detailing someone elses work)? After getting a degree, are you forced into a ridiculously long, low-paying internship path?

Most importantly, are you happy with your career choice? What are the downsides of game design?

How can someone in my shoes get into the industry/courses/etc?

 

 

TLDR: How do you like game design? Tell me your experience.



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#2 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1966

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 04:13 PM


Is there freedom of expression in your job (or, like architecture, unless you own your own firm you're really just detailing someone elses work)?

 

for a lone wolf, indie, army of one, or small team, there is.

 

probably less so in a large studio (unless you're the head).

 


After getting a degree, are you forced into a ridiculously long, low-paying internship path?

 

while formally trained as a software engineer (BS degree in CIS @ OSU), all my game development skills are self taught, gained through independent study.

 

if you're an indie or member of a small team, you can jump right in.

 

for a big studio apparently they want training, a portfolio, and the ability to demonstrate capabilities on demand at an interview. similar to a big architecture firm looking for a new hire. someone else here will have to speak to that issue, as i'm only personally familiar with the indie side of the biz.

 


Most importantly, are you happy with your career choice?

 

mine was by accident. i wrote a game in my spare time that became a top 10 download on AOL. but yes, i probably couldn't choose any other career that i'd enjoy more, except perhaps building custom race cars and exotic super cars for a living. i'm a creative type (aquarius), and an engineer, so i like to make stuff. to me its all just playing with lego blocks like when i was a kid. game development lets both my left (coding) and right (artwork/ music) brains be creative. 

 


What are the downsides of game design?

 

as a career, probably job security, and/or possible lack of a steady paycheck, depending on the route you go. the industry is still growing, hence its volatile. somebody from a big studio may be able to elaborate more on this point.

 


How can someone in my shoes get into the industry/courses/etc?

 

there seem to be two basic routes, depending on whether you're trying to land a job at a big studio, or  just want to make money making games.

 

these days the big studio route seems to involve formal training, a portfolio, etc. similar to being an architect.

 

with the other route, you simply learn the skills from classes, books, online tutorials, asking questions online, reading documentation, experimentation, etc.

 

as you develop skills, you apply them to start building and selling games.  

 

skills required are coding, artwork (including level design and other content creation skills), music/sfx, and design (defining the rules of the game, the setting, the time period, how the game world works, etc).  

 

basic tasks consist of design, coding and content creation, marketing, and administrative / managerial tasks for the project.

 

so as you can see there are a lot of skills to learn, especially if you do it all yourself. 

 

but different aspects can be farmed out: graphics, audio, marketing, sales fulfillment, order processing, etc. libraries can be used to keep code work to a minimum, but pretty much every game needs some custom source code, unless its made with an unmodified game engine.

 

working in a small team can give you the opportunity to work primarily at the type of task you enjoy most (coding, 3d modeling, level design, sound, etc). obviously working for a big studio can do likewise.


Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1988"

 

rocklandsoftware.net

 


#3 RandomMistakes   Members   -  Reputation: 105

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 07:34 PM

Norman,

Thank you for your response. That was all very good information and it's nice to hear a perspective from someone in the field (instead of my architecture friends). Do you think I could spend time learning the tools and software in my spare time and maybe a couple classes without actually earning a whole game dev degree, or would it not be enough? This might be an obvious question, but what I'm asking is if I were to try to start a career in game dev, would I need a specific degree/major, or is it more experience and portfolio based? Because for architecture you're pretty much screwed if you don't have a BArch or MArch.



#4 David.M   Members   -  Reputation: 731

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 08:05 PM

I can't speak from personal experience having not yet published a game but check out Sloperama. It should be helpful.



#5 Malabyte   Members   -  Reputation: 587

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Posted 03 August 2013 - 11:21 AM

Well, this isn't a direct answer, but here's a nice video on what you should expect as a Game Designer:

 


Edited by Malabyte, 03 August 2013 - 11:48 AM.

- Awl you're base are belong me! -

- I don't know, I'm just a noob -


#6 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1966

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 06:44 AM


Do you think I could spend time learning the tools and software in my spare time and maybe a couple classes without actually earning a whole game dev degree, or would it not be enough? This might be an obvious question, but what I'm asking is if I were to try to start a career in game dev, would I need a specific degree/major, or is it more experience and portfolio based? Because for architecture you're pretty much screwed if you don't have a BArch or MArch.

 

again, it depends on whether you're going for the big studio job or the indie route.  for the big studio job, formal training appears to be becoming more of a requirement, although its not yet mandatory. at this point, if you were interviewing TODAY, your portfolio and demonstrable skills apparently still have more weight than piece of paper from a school. however, by the time you develop your skill set and portfolio (say a year or two or three from now), that may no longer be the case, and formal training may be expected / required as well by then.

 

hopefully one of the folks here who works or has worked at a big shop may chime in with more info.


Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1988"

 

rocklandsoftware.net

 


#7 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9049

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 07:37 AM

I moved this topic from For Beginners (a technical forum) to the Game Industry Job Advice forum.  Will be weighing in with some responses after I've had my breakfast.

 

Okay, had breakfast.

 


1. What's it like in the gaming design industry?

2. Is there freedom of expression in your job (or, like architecture, unless you own your own firm you're really just detailing someone elses work)?

3. After getting a degree, are you forced into a ridiculously long, low-paying internship path?

4. are you happy with your career choice?

5. What are the downsides of game design?

6. How can someone in my shoes get into the industry/courses/etc?

7. Do you think I could spend time learning the tools and software in my spare time and maybe a couple classes without actually earning a whole game dev degree,

8. or would it not be enough?

9. This might be an obvious question, but what I'm asking is if I were to try to start a career in game dev, would I need a specific degree/major,

10. or is it more experience and portfolio based?

 

 

1. I wouldn't know. I've been in the video game industry for over 30 years, and I've never worked in the gaming industry.  I hate gambling and I don't like Las Vegas.

2. It's a creative industry, but as has been said above, unless you're a lone wolf or you own your own, it's a collaborative industry. Personally, I enjoy the "puzzle" aspect, the fact that each project is a creative endeavor, even if it's not my own creation, and that each project presents its own unique problems to solve.

3. Mostly.  But rise can be rapid (that's not to say that it usually is).

4. Absolutely.

5. Read FAQ 37: http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson37.htm

6. Level design or environment design.  Read FAQ 69. 

7. Sure, anything is possible. FAQ 50.

8. Nothing is enough. FAQ 49.

9. You already have a degree, so now what you need is a portfolio.  See FAQ 41.

10. No, not exactly.  Young people with limited experience need a degree to avoid being filtered out in the resume-reading process, and then after that the portfolio kicks in.  People with game industry experience don't need a degree, and credits sort of replace what a portfolio does.  http://www.igda.org/games-game-march-2010


Edited by Tom Sloper, 04 August 2013 - 09:08 AM.

-- 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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