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HELP with schooling questions

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My son is at Cal Poly in Software Engineering. He has just looked at Westwood College and they have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Game Software Development. QUESTIONS - 1. Have you heard of Westwood College? If so what do you think about them? 2. Is it the curriculums which is important or do you feel a degree from Cal-Poly is more important to companies that are hiring a new graduate? THX for any and all input!

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California Polytech is pretty well-known, while I've really never heard of Westwood College. It's more important that your son get a well-rounded degree in software engineering rather than in game software development, as he's limiting his career options with the latter. A good way to leverage the two is to get a BS in computer/software engineering, and then go through some sort of master's program in game software development afterwards. That way he has the benefit of both, while having a solid foundation in software engineering before he focuses on game software development in particular.

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IAAPGE (i am a professional game engineer) I completely agree that your son should stay at cal poly. It's better for any number of reasons:

1. The education is more rounded and leaves your son with "bail out" options. The games industry is tough and has a hidh burn-out rate. not everyone enjoys working 90+ hour weeks for months on end. If your son wants to jump industries the degree at cal poly will allow him to do so. a degree from westwood will make jumping ship more difficult, though certainly not impossible.

2. as mentioned earlier i've never heard of westwood so i'd give the cal poly resume more clout

3. though i'm just guessing, i'd wager that the resources (faculty, equipment, etc)at cal poly are orders of magnitude better than those at westwood.

tell him to stay at cal poly. his chances of getting a job in the games industry are better that way.

-me

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tell him to stay at cal poly. his chances of getting a job in the games industry are better that way.


I agree that Cal Poly is the better option, but ONLY because it has "bail-out" options. In terms of getting a job, I think whatever prestige Cal Poly has over Westwood would be negated by the fact that your son would come out of that school knowing almost nil about game programming.

So, if he chooses the traditional route, he should definitely work hard to pick up as many game coding skills as he can outside of the classroom.. Working on games, reading books or articles, learning and implementing complex algorithms... So the day he applies for his first game coding job, they can say, this guy is serious about going into the game industry and he's got a good head on his shoulders. He might not know everything about game programming, but he's done some impressive things and he seems capable of picking up anything we throw at him...

Just my 2 cents... I myself am looking for a job tho so I could just be talking BS ;)

roos

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Definately agree with Zipster and Paladine...

I am a current student at Digipen Institue of technology attaining a degree in game programming. DIT is arguably the harvard of Game development schools, but if I had it to do over I would have attended a traditional university first. As others have advised, having an AS or BS in a traditial program, then transfering for a higher level education in game development is a far better option. Digipen is currently offering levels from AS to MS in game development (AS is not being offered next year as the school is restructuing the course) and planning on a PHD program in the upcoming years.

Fullsail is another institution offering degrees in Game development, which is widely recieved by the industry as being roughly equal to digipen in terms of its education. I'm not too familiar with Westwood, but my understanding is that its a relatively new program. I'd have to recomend looking into DP or fullsail if they are at all options for you and your son. As far as the difference between fullsail and DP, DP is a little more traditional while fullsail is a more like a tech school. For instance, DP has a traditional Computer graphics class where students write a software rasterizer, whereas fullsail might teach a class on Direct3D or openGL. Niether approach is necesarily better, just different. Personally I like knowing the nuts and bolts of things, and got a lot of enjoyment writing the software rasterizer.

One thing your son should understand is that a game degree really has little or nothing to do with fun at all. In reality its hard work. In fact, a lot more hard work for a lot less pay than his database-programming collegues. If you come in without that reality check things will not go well, I've seen it in every year here at DP, the freshman class shinks SIGNIFIGANTLY over the course of the first 6 weeks or so. That said, I enjoy what I'm doing here, so its a matter of enjoying what you do with your life, if you want to make games you're going to have to earn it.

If you have an questions in specific, feel free to PM me. Hopefully I haven't frightened you both, I just mean to make you aware of the reality of the situation.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
It may also be important to note that Cal-Poly is accredited, whereas Westwood (like most other places offering a BSc. in things like game design) is not. Whether it matters or not depends on the situation of course, but if your son wanted to go to graduate school in something, generally he'd be limited to career colleges.

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That's funny comparing Digipen to Harvard. Almost as funny as getting a PhD in Game Design. I work for a large publisher just down the road from Digipen and I've never had a digipen grad hired into my group. For us general comp. sci skills are more important.

In general a straight comp sci degree is more valuable as games are changing into enterprise like apps. You no longer just have graphics and AI but now you have database programming, networking programming, server development, etc. For something like an MMO the core gameplay programming is the easy stuff. It's server balancing, ecommerce, etc that's the hard new stuff. I can teach a comp sci grad DirectX. Can I teach a game degree grad to do SQL queries? Most likely but I'd rather just hire someone who learned about that stuff already.

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Original post by Anonymous Poster
That's funny comparing Digipen to Harvard. Almost as funny as getting a PhD in Game Design. I work for a large publisher just down the road from Digipen and I've never had a digipen grad hired into my group. For us general comp. sci skills are more important.


There isn't really a direct comparison, I simply meant that among the "Game Schools" Digipen is the most widely known and generally well respected and valued by most employers.

Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
In general a straight comp sci degree is more valuable as games are changing into enterprise like apps. You no longer just have graphics and AI but now you have database programming, networking programming, server development, etc. For something like an MMO the core gameplay programming is the easy stuff. It's server balancing, ecommerce, etc that's the hard new stuff. I can teach a comp sci grad DirectX. Can I teach a game degree grad to do SQL queries? Most likely but I'd rather just hire someone who learned about that stuff already.


I generally agree. As games get larger and larger they require alot of disciplines. As I stated, having the well rounded aducation in all of Comp. Sci. is preferential, in my oppinion, to just a games degree. Also I agree that the PHD(or even MS) is silly if someone were to come and spend 6-8 years at digipen, however for someone with a BS or MS in Comp. Sci. who wants to get into games it may be a great option for them. In the end you either know what you need to or you don't. It doesn't matter where your education came from.

As far as never having hired a DP grad, there are some places that love us, and some places that dismiss us altogether. It seems to be a matter of the business culture at the employer, though I find both positions quite biased. Proper evaluation is a far better tool for finding the right employee.

All that said, DP has something like 90% or higher employment rates among graduates into software development withing their first working year. I have personally worked with one graduate who now works at Valve after only 2 years at DP (He earned an AS at DP to supliment his CS degree from university.)

Digipen is accredited and even qualified for students to recieve financial aid.

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