I feel I am in a similiar situation as yourself. I am 26 years old and working as a software engineer in Missouri. Everyday work seems to get a bit more dull, so I have started looking into transitioning into the games industry as well. From your conversation with Tom it seems that you are reluctant to give up a good job and move to a new city in hopes of breaking into a different industry where the competition is fierce and you lack experience (at least I assume). I believe that there is a very large risk here and can understand your reluctance.
Since I work for a very large company, I plan to find a new position and relocate to a new city on the west coast with more game studios in the area (i.e. LA, Seattle) in the next 6 months. This will allow me to make the move and hopefully start meeting industry professionals without worrying about finding new employment. Being an electrical engineer, I am sure you have similiar options, though depending on the size of your company you may have to find a new employer.
Anyway, if you are worried about giving up the good job, it
IMHO, a year really isn't that long. I would be surprised if any popular languages today are obsolete in a year. I think the key is to learn a language, any language, first. This will teach you the basics about programming in general. Once you understand the basics it is very easy to jump from language to language (as mentioned before).
I would go with an object-oriented language. This will allow you to start picking up principles of object oriented programming as well. I think almost all of the languages mentioned above fit the bill, with the exception of C and BASIC.
I recommend continuing education, so you have something to fall back on in case you don't make it in the game industry. It seems there are very few unemployed software engineers and they are usually paid pretty well too. I am not sure about the game industry, but outside the game industry (software engineering in particular) few employers will even look at you if you don't have a four year degree.
As far as affording school, have you looked into how much it would actually cost? And what financial aid is available?
I did not have parents that could afford to pay for my education, but I was still able to go to school for four years and didn't have to pay a cent until after I graduated and was earning a steady income. Remember, you can also work while going to school. I know a lot people who did this as well (I was fortunate enough to make enough money over the summer to pay for food/housing during the school year).
I am not sure where you are from but I know here in the US STEM (Science, Technology,Engineering and Math) majors are usually eligible for grants. When I was in school I recieved $2000 from these grants alone. I would imagine other countries have similar programs?
Another tip, research jobs that help pay for school. It may surprise you what jobs offer education assistance. A buddy of mine worked as cashier at a gas station out of high school and they paid over $1000/semester for him to take classes in college.
Finally, most universities are more than willing to work with students if you approach them. After all, if they train you to be a great engineer that goes off and become rich and famous, it makes them look good and they will be asking you for donations! (they do this even if you aren't rich and famous!)
Anyway, I truly believe that if you decide you want to go to school and are driven enough you can find the financial backing. I have yet to meet someone who truly couldn't continue school due to finances being the only issue.