1) Personally, if I was in your position, I'd keep my job as a financial adviser. You can do your job and make lots of money and just play games in your free time. Making games is entirely different from playing them and not nearly as financially rewarding.
Well, to be honest, that is easy to say for someone not working in his job. Fact is, most jobs are BORING AS HELL! If you add the fact that you might not like the job you are doing (like the OP writes in his opening post), or come to dislike the job you are doing (takes some years sometimes, even switching companies multiple times, to REALLY find out out how utterly you hate your job. Doesn't help that most colleges and unis might give you good theoretical groundwork for your future career, but do very little to really prepare you for what you will do most of the time on the job: administrative tasks, company politics, fighting your boss or that obnoxious co worker, and so on).
Now, it might be that the OP does not understand that most game dev jobs most of the time are also BORING AS HELL! But it might be a good idea to have a look at it, just for the slim fact that he loves the topic and what he has to do enough to balance out administrative tasks, company politics, fighting co-workers ans so on. That is worth more than all the money you can make in a job.
I can really relate to that, and I think the OP is quite brave AND clever to think about switching jobs. Most people don't do that, arrange themselves with the job they hate, and grow up to be a very bitter person by the time they are nearing their retirement.
Now, personally before applying for any college fulltime I would try to dip my toes a little bit. See what game dev could be like, see what line of work in the game dev business is mostly my cup of tea. Try your hand at some programming, download an engine and tinker a little bit with the level editor, maybe have a look at 3D Modelling and animation.... whatever COULD be your cup of tea.
That might take a while, and might not seem to be very productive at the beginning, but if you manage to write your own version of pong and utterly love programing by that time, your confidence in switching industries and applying for college will be much higher. Conversly, if you completly disliked the expierience, chances are you will also not like game programing as part of larger, maybe even AAA level projects. You just saved some serious cash and wasting half a year while struggling to keep up with your college course.
A little bit OT, but to give another example why you should value liking a job over getting lots of money for it:
In military, I had a subordinate that told me an interesting story one day... we have yearly refresher courses in military, so you tend to see each other roughly once a year. The question what people did in the last year is then a quite frequent subject.
One year that guy told me that he had switched jobs, getting into a support role in a very big commodity trader (I guess it was Glencore as they are the biggest one located where he lived, but he never told)... extremly well paid job, he claimed to have made double as much as in his former job. He kind of knew that the atmosphere in the company might not have been the best, because his plan was to stay with the company for a year, save the money and then go travelling for a year thanks to all the money saved.
Well, in the end he gave up after 3 months according to his own words. The Traders seemed to be pretty much a**holes, coming to his backoffice desk just to vent steam even if it wasn't his fault at all (most probably totally drugged up like the Brokers in the stock markets). He tried to get help from his boss but the comment of the boss simply was: "The traders have to vent their steam somewhere, Just take it as part of your job."... yeah, right.
Money is not everything if you have to endure shit like this to earn it.
I bought an MVS arcade cab. Got it in the garage. Was a lot cheaper than than the AES. All the SNK games are actually cartridges that plug into an arcadified version of the home console. Or put a better way the AES was / is just a consoled arcade board.
Actually a pretty cool idea... hard sell on the GF, with all my other hardware lying around all over the apartment, but might be worth the try... would put it in my homeoffice if there was still space left
Does the MVS take the exact same cartridges as the AES?
Ok, cool. But I think spending that extra dollar is the better way to go. I'll try to find that AES thing, maybe on ebay or something.
Never played this stuff. Kicking someone in the nuts was not my idea of fun back then. Tended to go for turtle stomping instead. Did play some Sonic the Hedgehog which was ok but not as good as Jumpman.
If you REALLY need all the old consoles and have limited space available, the AES is the better idea. The MVS obviously comes with a whole cabinet, so takes up lots of space and has an old shoots-you-deathrays-in-the-eyes screen. Of course you could just rip out the board and build your own custom console with it, like some other guys did on the net (I really dig the wooden versions you can actually buy).
Well, I was MUCH more into Fighting games back then than I am now. Played Street Fighter, the original Soul Edge and Bloody Roar until my Sister and Parents almost couldn't take it anymore (they uterrly hated the repetitive sound effects )... that might be why I always drooled over my video game magazines whenever a new NeoGeo game was featured in one of them...
Later on in University I broke 2 Laptops playing NeoGeo emus with other students in Class whenever the lecture got boring.... yeah, don't use cheap laptops for fighting games.... the Keyboard will not take it.
Oh, it was just THE one console everyone wanted and nobody could afford back when I was young.... and obviously it is still as expensive as it was back then today, as long as you don't go for the cheap emulation console version that came out some years ago (which was reated as being convinient, quite faithfull to the original when docked, but with a stupid widescreen screen on the portable device (remember, back then 4:3 was the ONLY format available), and crappy analog video output for the TV dock (which is kinda sad when the AES ha among the best analog video outputs of its time))
If you REALLY don't know it: King of Fighters, Samurai Showdown, Metal Slug... does that sound familiar? All of them and many more arcade classics where produced by SNK, which was producing amongst the best arcade boards back in the 80's.... they created a console out of their arcade boards, which ended up being the NeoGeo AES, being the most powerful console until the Playstation and Saturn came out (IDK how it compared to the Jag or 3DO, but it was REALLY powerful hardware for a console created in 87').
Well, I have a RetroN5 at home, and as I do NOT care how it gets its visuals on screen so far I am very happy with it. Played all my SNES games (though I didn't try the Super FX ones yet like Star Fox/Wing, I read that they play just fine).
And you get MUCH improved image quality thanks to the HDMI output and Antialiasing. Nothing for the retor purist, I for one are happy to happy to have the crappy analog connections gone!
As for testing games on the RetroN5, be aware that, as Anthony wrote, there are incompatibilities with SOME games.... sems to be very low percentage of games, but can happen. So while the RetroN5 is a very good way to replay the games of your childhood one (and soften some of the shock of crappy analog connections and low resolutions, as well as crappy sound chips), it is in no way an accurate way to test old games.
Also, the RetroN5 lets you play SNES, Genesis/Mega Drive, Famicon/NES, GBA/GB games and MAster System through the adapter, without worry for regional differences. But you will not be able to use it to play Game Gear, Lynx, 3DO, Jaguar, or any of the later consoles on it.
You CAN try the Mega Drive 32X or CD, but I guess that will not really work as the RetroN5 has none of the original Hardware the Mega Drive had. So while it takes some hassle out of testing 5-7 systems in different configs, the other 20 or so consoles you will still need to buy.
Be aware that the most common consoles are actually not too expensive to get online, you can get used ones in not-too-mint-conditions for both SNES and Mega Drive / Genesis for under 100 bucks... though of course, if you want to be able to test ALL international cartridges, triple that (or buy a much more expensive modded console)... Playstation 1 should also be easy enough to get hold on, if you are lucky enough to snatch an eearly production run, you can even play international titles without modding.
The master system AFAIK is a little bit harder to get (compared to the NES), but should also not be too expensive.
Now if you try to get the original NeoGeo AES console, you will have to pay _A LOT_