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icouch

schools the right thing?

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i need some opinions. im a sophmore at a private school. my cumulative GPA is 2.9, which i can raise if i work my butt off for these last few weeks. the thing is, im having trouble doing it. i, like so many others, just want to make games. in particular, program games. i hear that if i do well in school, and get deep into math, theres a small chance a gaming school could accept me. now, if this happens, and i go through that school successfully, a company might hire me. but i could learn almost all of the stuff a college could teach me now. not everything, of course, but a fair amount. i wouldnt get the social interaction/meet new people that a college could offer. plus, game developers would go for the kids with degrees from digipen or fullsail, right? or, i could start my own company. get maybe 10 people together, and start making small games, and gradually work our way up. the hard part about this is, for the longest time, we would be getting pay from some other job, etc... but at least we would get to design our games. if i worked as a programmer for a company, what would the chances be that i got to throw some of my own ideas into the game design? i wouldnt want to code a game that i didnt even think was fun. pickers can't be choosers, i know, especially since theres thousands of other kids who want to make games. so why dont more people just start their own companies. of course you wouldnt expect anyone to produce your games, but if they eventually show some promise, maybe someone would give them a quick glance. ok ok, i hope that made some sense. what im saying is, would it be better to go through school, and that whole process, hoping to get hired? (or start your own company after that). i could finish learning C++, etc... before i get out of college. i know things arent this black and white, but i just want a few opinions: school, or independent learning? join some bigger development team, or start ur own (which would be harder than i can imagine). please knock some sense into my head [edited by - icouch on May 25, 2004 12:08:29 AM]

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Your story touches my heart... no but seriously, im a sophmore, i have a 3.something (though this year im barely a 3, and this semester im more like 2.5) you could learn EVERYTHING that you could in college outside of it (just saying its possible, its highly unlikely) i keep on hearing that no matter waht developers are looking for a PORTFOLIO showing EXPERIENCE over schooling. My advice to you is, take a cummer school class at your local community college, in california, it costs 4 bucks, (though iot adds up to about 200 when oyu count the books, which when you get them used are considerably cheaper, but they didnt have any for me :-/) anyways, taht will give you a good base, so its not like youve had no schooling, and also... if you do well (which i did) it raises ur gpa a lot...
-Dan

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yes i was gonna take a programming class, but it got canceled because not enough were signed up. yeah our local community college offers, hmm lets see here... computers for seniors and home computer workshop. maybe i move down to califnornia. i was thinking about taking more math classes, since my private school fired their only programming teacher 2 years ago. but a portfolio, hmm. thx dan.

btw, didnt mean to sound melodramatic. i have a tendancy to post like that.

[edited by - icouch on May 25, 2004 12:34:06 AM]

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icouch, assuming you''re based in the United States, I would seriously recommend pursuing a com. college/univeristy degrees if finacially possible. You may get tired of making games, and with a Math/Econ/CompSci/etc degree you can do something different when the time comes.

Plus, while school is time consuming, students have an extraordinary amount of free time on their hands. If you were to go to a major university, you would be more likely to meet people who share your interests, and maybe work on your games with you (for free, out of friendship) -- and more than just programmers, but artists, muscians, etc. Also, there is more to programming than structures and blts...and while it''s not required, a higher education can help mature your mind so can deal with the abstract problem solving a little better.

The downside is NP-Complete theories and money...ultimately there is no right or wrong way, but some ways can lead to easier options.

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im pursuing a 5 year BS in Software Engineering @ RIT and i studied on my own for years in high school. you''ll learn about 10 times faster and better in school getting ur ass kicked by tests, projects, and labs then u will trying to dick ur way through a game idea from books.

ive done both.

go to school... go to a good school.

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I recommend you abandon the idea of a games college. Anything they can teach you, as far as I know, can be learnt with a CS degree and experience with a company.

Just my opinion from my experience in talking to people, but maybe people who have actually done this will prove me wrong. Experience > education, because you can be trained or learn stuff, but experience only comes with time.

It seems to me that it limits your flexibility as well: you may change your mind, especially if the supply exceeds demand in the field. Who knows.

Red Sodium

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Here's the thing about gaming schools.

The tangible part is that they're not very directly useful, as they don't teach you much that can't be learned from books or API references. It's a pretty poor investment if you're looking at money spent vs knowledge gained.

But the other side of the coin is that you will meet lots of people who share your passion, and generally people learn a lot from their peers (I know I did) and being around people who share your interests. You can't put a dollar value on that. I "grew" a lot more as an aspiring programmer than I did back at home reading books and going on IRC, simply because I was around people who pushed me. I met a lot of people and made some good friends, whom I'm sure I'll run into in the industry. This aspect of gaming school made the experience as a whole a positive one.

So it's up to you if the intangible part of gaming schools is worth it to you, because that's unfortunately what you'll get the most out of. You're basically paying money to meet some friends that care about game programming, and learn a few API factoids and do a few assignments along the way. There's always a few teachers that stand out though, and they make the experience worthwhile too.

I still don't know what I would do if I had to do it again...

The only thing I know for sure is that you should avoid The Arts Institute schools for gaming-related programs. In fact, avoid those schools altogether. I got caught in the middle of one of their buyouts, where they took something that showed a lot of promise (a gaming program) and proceeded to rip it to shreds, partly due to incompetence but mostly to restructure it into a profit machine (lower standards, broaden appeal, dilute content, etc).

[edited by - foofightr on May 29, 2004 12:50:02 AM]

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quote:

Plus, while school is time consuming, students have an extraordinary amount of free time on their hands.



BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Thanks.

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I concur with the alternative career path option. you may not want to make games forever and an education will help you do that, including expose you to other possibilities that you might not have realized.

It''s true especially in today''s society that people are saying that an education is among the most important things that you can get. As for whether or not it really is important, well, that depends on who is doing the hiring and what they are looking for. An education vastly increases your chances, although persistence also has many merits.

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Also, all kidding aside - "pure" CS / programming degrees are going to be pretty worthless in the coming years. Companies don''t want to hire programmers in the states, europe, or really anywhere where the average yearly wage is more than $30,000. You might get a job that requires some programming, or a job that requires overlooking programmers - but if you just want to purely program software, there isn''t much of a job market (outside of games and really complex algorithms like search technology--which will most likely require a PhD).

As I''ve stated before with regard to this topic: don''t persue a pure CS-based degree. Learn business (Computer Information Systems is good), learn physics, learn mathematics, or learn something that relates to the actual industry you''re making stuff for.

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