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achkas

Member Since 22 May 2013
Offline Last Active May 23 2013 12:23 AM

Topics I've Started

MSc Computer Sciences conversion course and career query

22 May 2013 - 11:31 AM

I'm writing to ask for advice about breaking into the industry with my current qualifications, and whether my plans for future qualifications/projects sound good. I have completed an undergraduate degree and Master's degree in English literature at the University of Cambridge and have gone on to do a PhD in literature at King's College London, and am in my second year (of three years, as most PhD courses in the UK are concentrated into three or four years).

 

Despite my strong arts-focus so far, my PhD involves a large games component, analysing the mechanisms through which we identify with and reconstruct characters as both readers of novels and players of games, particularly the ethics of making choices in games that allow ethical choices. I will be speaking on this at several conferences, will potentially be running a summer course on this for undergraduate students next summer, and will hopefully publish some of this by the end of my PhD.

 

In the process of this work, I could not help but think of games design and writing ideas (I am aware they are distinct roles, but have written out both design summaries and small script samples in my spare time) and am beginning to turn these into full games, which I am greatly enjoying. 

 

It has also occurred to me that job prospects are fairly awful in academia (the path that my PhD is leading me towards, a position at a university teaching/researching literature and potentially games studies classes) and so trying to explore whether games development could be a career. I am aware that this field is -also- fairly difficult to break into, but if I am qualified and developing my own titles at the same time that I am looking for jobs in academia, I have two options available to me. This work will also boost my chances of a career in academia, and my academic work might also boost my chances of getting a games position. 

 

Even if nothing comes of it, I am very interested in learning more about programming in a formal environment and working on my own titles, even if it remains at an amateur level -- I just want to do it in such a way that minimizes time if I later did do it at a professional level.

 

I am intending to apply for this evenings-based Master's Course at Birkbeck, University of London, designed for graduates of non-computing degrees: http://www.dcs.bbk.ac.uk/courses/msccs/ 

 

I would start this course the month after I complete my PhD and become a doctor, and it would last 1-2 years. In advance of this, I would improve my mathematics skills and learn Java (this was recommended to me by the head of this course, with whom I have been in contact)

 

A modules list is available here to show the course content: http://www.dcs.bbk.ac.uk/courses/msccs/outline.php and I've pasted the list of modules below:

 

- Computer Systems

- Data and Knowledge Management

- Fundamentals of Computing

- Information Retrieval and Organisation OR - Internet and Web Technologies (you choose one of them)

- Information Systems

- Object-Orientated Design and Programming

- Programming in Java

- Personal Project

 

It's heavily Java based throughout the year, with the following aspects of Java taught in that course -- I believe it's used as a sample language to teach computing concepts/programming:

 

 

Syllabus
• Basics: variables, types, initialization, comments
• Flow control: branches, loops
• Source code version control
• Simple and complex data types: primitive types, strings, (multi-dimensional) arrays
• Introduction to classes and objects: initialization, methods, and constructors
• Data structures: lists, stacks, trees, maps (and iterators)
• Software testing and testing-driven development
• Introduction to generics and annotations in Java
• More on object orientation: inheritance, polymorphism, overloading
• Recursion
• Exception Handling
• I/O in Java
• Network programming
• Concurrent programming
 
For the big project at the end of the year, "This includes planning and executing a major piece of programming work appropriate to the MSc programme and presenting existing approaches in the problem area (placing the student’s own approach in the wider context)."
 
I was wondering whether this course would be a good thing for my CV for games development; I am aware that games designers often gain entry to companies through non-design positions and are often expected to have additional skills, so programming and literary writing would be my way of providing extra value. Is it worthwhile to take this course? Considering what I have said and my prior history, what would people advise I should be doing over the next year or two? I live extremely close to a number of games development companies (the south of the UK in Guildford) with good commutes available to other locations. I am 24 and these are my current qualifications:
 

2011 -                          PhD in English Literature at King’s College London
                                  

2010 - 2011                 M.Phil in American Literature at University of Cambridge

 

2007-2010                                      BA(Hons) in English at University of Cambridge

(Part I: 1st Class; Part II: 2-1)

 
Is my plan a sound one, and how can I improve it? How do I become the right kind of candidate for a games design role?

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