Universities are "overkill" in my opinion, and I'm disgusted at their marketing tactics toward high school leavers: everything is about having friends/status/ego and "chasing the party". I dislike many of the university students that I've met, I perceive them to be brainwashed with conventional nonsense; or the other extreme, they think they can change the world. I've been to local gamedev meetups here in Christchurch and the guys there are great - completely the opposite of university graduates.
Nobody anywhere cares about your opinions on universities, university graduates, or the value of the education. This is not an effective justification for any decision you make.
The guy blurts out: "don't waste your time, New Zealand's education system is 4 years behind, and you'll most likely end up working on things like Barbie Seahorse Adventures and Air New Zealand complaint forms - you should just make the next Call Of Duty from your basement and break into the games industry that way"
Nobody cares what he thinks either.
From what I can tell there's nothing wrong with doing a diploma in software engineering, so long as you aren't forced to do Microsoft Office. If you have to learn office for the first 4 weeks, don't do the course! The benefit of a degree seems to be maths knowledge and advanced concepts.
From what I understand in reading, a "diploma" in NZ is akin to an Associate's Degree in the US. That is, it represents a two year course of study in a particular area of higher education.
'm confident that I can learn advanced stuff from a book.
Don't worry, most university students learn it from a book too.
What countries do you think are friendly toward candidates who have diplomas, not a degree? Are there cultural reasons for this or is it a case of shallow employers, who essentially hire people based on data?
I can only speak to the US, which I would describe as follows:
- The game industry is moderately receptive to those without a four year degree, as they put a heavy emphasis on capable candidates from any walk of life. There are many success stories from such people, and I personally worked in the industry before finishing my degree. However, the industry has grown more competitive and technically challenging in recent years, and lacking a normal degree puts you at a disadvantage compared to candidates who do have one and are also capable. There are many of them.
- The tech industry outside games is quite unfriendly to those who do not have a four year degree. This is because the well-paid positions usually have a long list of domestic and international applicants, the vast majority of whom have at least a four year degree if not more. Typically most companies will simply not respond to your job inquiries beyond the resume/email stage, and the ones that do will severely underpay you. Advancement opportunities will be minimal and require very long term work. You will be passed over for promotions you may have deserved.
Personally, I don't necessarily expect or require a degree from a job applicant, but I do expect a good explanation for why. Typically in the US, the best explanation is that the costs and loans associated with a four-year education were prohibitive. There are some reasonable arguments to be made in favor of taking an available work experience that might be valuable. Your reasoning was poorly thought out and unconvincing, and furthermore conveys extreme laziness and a sense of arrogance. I would most likely choose not to interview you regardless of your portfolio projects.
One potential path would be for you to finish a diploma in NZ, and then go overseas to complete a more comprehensive degree program, perhaps one focused on the game industry. There are many such programs available in the US and EU.