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Best Academic skills for a games designer.

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Bear this in mind from an employer's point of view. Soon I will be faced with the choice to go on to sixth form ( further education at school ) but I'm wondering if I seriously wanted to be a games designer what subjects would be best?

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The subjects you take for your A levels are unlikely to get you a game designer job. Even your degree won't make that much difference. Breaking into the industry can be tough, and getting a design job is even tougher. Designers are rarely hired fresh from college - usually new designers start off as something else, testers, programmers or artists, and move into game design later.

Read this page: Preparing for a career in game design. In fact, read the whole site. [grin]

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Don't choose your A-levels based on a single job desire.

Choose them based on what you like.

You may think your only goal in life is to design games but that may well change, and I think topic you like won't change that easily.

You have to choose four subjects and you gonna spend a lot of time on them so try to choose the ones you'll enjoy most.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Sandman
The subjects you take for your A levels are unlikely to get you a game designer job. Even your degree won't make that much difference. Breaking into the industry can be tough, and getting a design job is even tougher. Designers are rarely hired fresh from college - usually new designers start off as something else, testers, programmers or artists, and move into game design later.

Read this page: Preparing for a career in game design. In fact, read the whole site. [grin]


I hang out with theater majors. I think some of their situations (i.e. the ones that want to be the next Depp, Kidman, Spielberg, Burton, etc.) are similar to someone who wants to be a game designer. Really, it's not hard to reach the top, you've just got to be willing to climb the ladder. You've gotta be "waiter #4" or the "gofer" for the person who assists the assistant to Mr. Affleck. Once you reach the top, you've gotta be willing to deal with being at the top. There's not so much freedom as one would assume. You've still got producers and the audience to deal with, as well as those under you and schedules. If nobody will pay for it or nobody will watch it, it's not going to happen.

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If you want to get into the gaming industry, you gotta have a skill that they want and be good at that. Game Designers, like an earlier poster said, are further up the ladder, so start with some specialized skill and don't be afraid to branch out and touch on everything else.

Personally, in my opinion, start with programming. Get some solid programming background and fundamentals. Even designers have to realize that there are limitations to what can be programmed and what can't in a given amount of time. With some good programming background, the next is to take some software engineering courses. software engineering course will teach you management, development, and design skills that are required in any sector of the industry dealing with software. When you interview with any game developers, they'll almost always ask you about time management skills, team skills, complexity estimation skills, and just generally how good you are at managing your time and coming up with reasonable time estimates based on the given task.

Then from there, you branch into a sub-area that you really like to do, be it graphics, core engine design, AI, low level machine language, hardware stuff, etc.Those will then become possible entry points.

In my interviews with engineers, senior engineers and development directors in the industry, I did ask them what it would take to get to be a game designer. They did tell me that it is usually after 3 or more years of experience and they've found that software engineers and computer science people actually make pretty decent game designers down the line.

So, this is partially personal experience, stuff I've gathered from interviews and just general observation. There are some opinions in here too, considering that I'm still in the process of getting in myself.

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I agree with everyone else, you can't just suddenly be hired as a game designer. However, something that surely would help your CV is if you were the game designer for an indie game that turned out pretty well, and stood up in the crowd. I also think that, for the specific topic of massive online games, it's important to have deep knowledge of how masses react when dealing with a set of rules - many bad decisions are made by game designers because of this. But that's just me:)

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This is the thing really, my cousin is going to universioty, and he saw a games desgn course, he showed me as obviously I'm very interested in it. So I was really thinking I maybe would like to do that course, but would the clases I do at sixth form be irrevalant.

Thank you for the site link. Whilt some of it was the usual telling you your not the only wana be etc, many of it was very good. Especially tips on using game testing to get in the industry, I was pretty happy to here they only want people with good english skills, as right now I'm 3rd best at it in our school, shame that I stink at geography but that's totally off topic.

Also, there talking about on that site, that I can have totally unrelated degree butstill get in the games industry, is that possible?

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Game design isn't necessarily a high up job, unless you're the lead designer. Jobs like "Scripter" are game design jobs, and in my experience, it was an entry level position. If anything, I think it's the other way about from what you guys have been saying. I personally got a scripting job, with a view to gaining experience that would help me become a games programmer in future.

You don't need to have been a programmer to get a design job. If you've done a degree course where programming is involved, then it's a hell of a lot easier to get a scripting job, but it's not necessary. That said, if you don't have knowledge of programming, then you might have to work in QA to get that foot in the door. Most of the scripters that hadn't come from computer game related courses came from QA.

Programming, and software engineering are useful things to have knowledge of in the games industry, but they're not a requirement.

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if you are referring to a programming position, like "designing" class structures, system architectures, algorithms, whathaveyou, then i think the best thing you can do is prepare yourself with a solid foundation. the fact is that technology is changing very quickly. the question an employer is going to wonder is, "is this guy going to be able to 1) even understand what we're talking about, 2) catch up with / advance with the team on our schedule, and 3) bring new innovation, energy, and initiative into the group."

1 is a minimium, 2 is necessary for you to be an even remotely valuable team member, and 3 is what most employers ideally hope for.

you're ability to "understand" new ideas and "catch up" with rigerous schedules is going to directly depend on the breadth AND depth of your knowledge. if you have worked with openGL before then you might have a lot of depth when working on new opengl projects. but if you haven't, then you rely on your breadth of knowledge (for example: working with other APIS, graphics hardware experience, playing games!)to learn openGL as quickly as possible.

@ my school, we learn how to learn, faster. we could just learn JAVA, or we could learn how to work with OO programming languages (hybrids anyway) in general. when we hit a language we don't know, we have an idea of what to expect... so we pick it up faster. that's what breadth gives you. in a way, that's an argument for broad higher education in general. specializing has it's place, surely, but breadth of knowledge is your ally early on.

my 2 cents

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