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Required schooling in the game industry and suggestions

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Hi ! At the moment I'm in Software Engineering at Concordia University in Montreal and I've been feeling all this stress and pressure about school and god knows I'm not good in school and I was wondering if it was really such a big advantage in the industry to possess a degree from university or if there were other ways to prove our skills by learning by myself and working alone or with a team on something related to what I would love to do in life and that is, of course, make games. The reason I'm asking is because I have this total lack of motivation to go through all those math, physics classes and I want to continue but a counsellor from school asked me if there was a possibility to simply do what I like and not go through a degree if I'm not motivated about it. In my opinion, I think it is necessary to possess great theoric and practical skills that we learn in University to have a better chance of making it as a profesionnal software developer but then again I would be a lot more motivated to learn something if I knew why I had to learn it than learn something in school and have no clue what it will be useful for later on in my career... So basically I'm completely lost in what to do and I would appreciate your thoughts on this subject. I thank you very much for you time and interest !

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Here's some motivation --

ALL programming boils down to MATH and LOGIC! Which is not to say that you have to be a math genious, although it can only help if you are, but you must have a competent grasp of mathematics. A good knowlege of Algebra is sort of baseline for any programmer, what you need after that is a function of what field of programming you are in. For game programmers this would be Trig, Calculus, Geometry, Advanced algebra and discreet math and physics, I'm sure this list could be added to. If you want to be a games programmer 90% of everything you'll learn in the maths listed is directly applicable to games.

The more maths you have a good grasp of, the better and more valuable programmer you will become. If you need more motivation than that look into some areas of programming, graphics and physics for instance, to see for yourself where things apply. If you still have problems with your motivation I wouldn't think about going into the games industry.

Also, note that I talked about your motivation to learn math, not go to university. Personaly I believe university will prepare you better, but plenty of people make games without having gotten a degree. Its becomming rarer and rarer though, and very very difficult to "get your foot in the door" which is probably the hardest part of working in the games industry. After that it becomes evolving with new technology and methods, which again, maths and university will better prepare you for.

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Well, in my opinion you should stay in school, if you have a degree relating to the game design field, then it will make it easier to get into the game design buisiness, in comparison, I am currently a high school drop out, without a GED, haven't taken the ACT, or SAT Tests, and thanks to my high school teachers who didn't listen to me, I have a weak math bacground, even though I'm pretty good at math, oh and I have some minor game design experience on BYOND.com designing a game that I never finished, and written in a stiff, un-flexible language that only works with the Dream Seeker application, and has no 3d potential, and no professional developers would never dream of using it, here's my game if you want to take a look
http://www.byond.com/games/War_master66/Taerle

now, if a hiring manager for a game company saw this they would laugh at me and tell me to be more realistic, but, maybe if I had a degree, they would take me a bit more seriously, but anyway, my suggestion is stay in school, and get your degree, because without it, you would need to have extensive experience, and show exceptional potential to be hired without a degree.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Honestly, if you can't hack the relatively light stress of school, the job would kill you.

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I agree with all the other posters.

It's the same with all learning...you want to be able to do something without having to slog through all the mundane bits. Alas, in this day and age, if you want the chance of a prosperous career in the games industry you really need that piece of paper with as good a grade as possible (as well as a good portfolio).

There's so many going through university now who want to join the games industry when they leave...you want to make sure that you're not going to be one of the graduates who's overlooked.

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Quote:
Original post by Avenyr
and I've been feeling all this stress and pressure about school


Hard as it might be to imagine, it doesn't get any better. Uni's the best days of your life; good friends, plenty of spare time to experiment and play, and great chances to learn.

Part of the problem I find when teaching is to make things relevant for the students. Teaching maths can be really boring (for a game programming degree), so one of the things we keep trying to do is draw parallels back to how you'd use the information in game-development, and how to concretisize the theory.

Some good books for learning mathematics from a game-development background:

Mathematics for 3D Game Programming and Computer Graphics, Second Edition (Eric Lengyel)
3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development (Fletcher Dunn, Ian Parberry)

There are equivalent books on physics, as well as plenty of SDKs that can help you visualize newtonian physics (go check out the the Open Dynamics Framework, http://www.physicstools.org/, for some excellent samples).

While things like nuclear theory, or information about how light curves in different medium might seem totally useless to you from a game-development point of view, these are actually being utilized in the latest shaders to simlulate different materials and lighting models.

In short; as a game developer, you'll always be learning, and all knowledge is eventually usefull. Enjoy your life in Uni; once you learn to enjoy it, it's as good as life gets :)

Certainly finishing a degree will improve your chances of getting hired afterwards (both if you want a normal 9-5 job, and if you feel like developing games for a living).

Best of luck,

Allan

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