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Questions on Education

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I am currently in my senior year at High School and I have finally decided that I want to major in Game Development. I have just started reading a C++ book (Essential C++ by Stanley B. Lippman) and I am talking with my guidance counselors to get independent study an hour and a half each day to learn C++. The only courses for Game Development in my area are a Bachelor's Degree in Game & Simulation Programming at DeVry University near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have no idea how this would look on a resume later, and unfortunately my family (or should I say my mom and I) aren't very well off financially so moving away from home is not an option at the moment. I have been looking around on the net for some time and I found http://www.gameinstitute.com It seems very cheap but I don't understand if this gets you certified and if it you get any recognition or if it it is just an independent course. It seems like a great program, under $2000 to get all of this stuff but I don't know how it actually is. DeVry is $6,000 a year and I am positive I can get tons of financial aid to go there. I have just checked out Westwood Online as well, I'm not sure how to compare it to Game Institute. Does anyone know how good any of these programs are? Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Or does anyone know any other Online Programs that might be better I could look at? Thanks for anyone who answers. GameDev seems like a very friendly community. [Edited by - Damon Damon on January 8, 2006 9:23:35 PM]

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I may not be qualified to answer your question, but I personally recommend getting a degree from a physical school. Now I am not an employer but I can almost guarantee that your future as a game programmer will be determined by your portofolio, that is your completed projects, research, and ability to sell yourself.

As far as I know, gameinstitute offers very informative classes, but no real degree. I havn't heard of any online programs that offer degrees in programming. They are a good, cheap way to learn certain aspects of game programming but they don't give the well-rounded education that a real university would.

You may be able to learn a lot from there, but you will never get the experience of working with a group on a programming project. You will not have access to powerful computing resources or networking opportunities as you would with a physical college. And if you happen to change interests, you can change degrees or use your less specialized degree to work in another field.

And as far as money goes, you can get a lot of financial aid depending on your need. I dont know if your reason for not attending a distant school is soley because of travel and living costs or if there is something else, but have a look at the FAFSA. You can find out how much the government expects you to pay for college. I know some people with very low incomes who recieve huge grants based entirely on need. They pay the rest using federal and other student loans. They are not exceptional students or anything, but their grants are easily more than tuition. And if you land a job in game programming, you will be able to pay back those loans.

How much aid you get varies from college to college, as some do not follow the fafsa "suggestions". Try asking your guidance councelor about schools that are known to give good aid.

That all said, I think you should look into computer science instead. With such a degree you would gain knowledge of software engineering process, operating systems and computer architecture. You could then learn more specifics about game programming from internet tutorials or gameisntitute. Not to discourage you, but a lot of people are interested in game design these days, and very few make it. Not that there is anythign wrong with just starting to learn C++ now, but if you are determined to become a game programmer then you can look forward to a TON of work in the next 4 years to build an impressive resume.

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Quote:
Original post by nihilisticod
I may not be qualified to answer your question, but I personally recommend getting a degree from a physical school. Now I am not an employer but I can almost guarantee that your future as a game programmer will be determined by your portofolio, that is your completed projects, research, and ability to sell yourself.

As far as I know, gameinstitute offers very informative classes, but no real degree. I havn't heard of any online programs that offer degrees in programming. They are a good, cheap way to learn certain aspects of game programming but they don't give the well-rounded education that a real university would.


True, of anything you can invest in right now, a solid education would give you a real step up in life. Sure, you can do without, but it is harder.

Quote:

And as far as money goes, you can get a lot of financial aid depending on your need. I dont know if your reason for not attending a distant school is soley because of travel and living costs or if there is something else, but have a look at the FAFSA. You can find out how much the government expects you to pay for college. I know some people with very low incomes who recieve huge grants based entirely on need. They pay the rest using federal and other student loans. They are not exceptional students or anything, but their grants are easily more than tuition. And if you land a job in game programming, you will be able to pay back those loans.

How much aid you get varies from college to college, as some do not follow the fafsa "suggestions". Try asking your guidance councelor about schools that are known to give good aid.


My school, USC, will offer a BS in game development next semester(currently the only one in a major uni). While it is one of the most expensive in the world(expect $140,000+ for 4 yrs), they also hand out a ton of free money (I get free tuition and pay $500/semester+living)

Unlike a lot of schools, they will also meet 100% of your Federal estimated financial need, down to the penny (mostly grants/work-study, but loans too)

So I would not completely dismiss the possibility of going to a full 4-year school, especially if your need is really large or your grades are particularly good.

Quote:

That all said, I think you should look into computer science instead. With such a degree you would gain knowledge of software engineering process, operating systems and computer architecture. You could then learn more specifics about game programming from internet tutorials or gameisntitute. Not to discourage you, but a lot of people are interested in game design these days, and very few make it. Not that there is anythign wrong with just starting to learn C++ now, but if you are determined to become a game programmer then you can look forward to a TON of work in the next 4 years to build an impressive resume.


Agreed also, unless you are disinterested in regular computer science and only want to do games development, a regular CS degree is probably more valuable. With a regular CS, if you cannot get a games job, then you could always find work elsewhere in the software industry.

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a friend of mine works at EA on john madden football. he has a 2 year art degree from a community college. but he is good at what he does and had built up an amazing portfolio. while education is important, nothing will beat experience.

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GameInstitute's courses are great as a compliment set of courses; however, it would be wise to go to college. First of all, I would recommend a Computer Science degree, since that degree would make you suited for just about any programming job, and not just Game Development. So, you're in the CS degree, yet you still want to get into Game Development? That's when you can sign up for GameInstitute. They have really nice courses, and the instructors always help out. The nice part about GI's courses is that they're designed for you to learn at your own pace. That's the best thing I found out about GI. I'm taking the Graphics Programming Module I course (DirectX); but, I haven't had much time in the past year to work on it.

Personally, I would focus on a well-rounded education first. Then, once you have that down, you can augment your education with a more specialized field of programming.

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i can recomend fullsail. but it's quite expensive and very difficult. lots of loans required, unless you're independantly wealthy, which it sounds like you aren't.
here are the courses for the game dev bs: http://www.fullsail.com/index.cfm/fa/degree.courses/dp_id/9/dpv_id/0/courses
they also have a computer animation program.

i've did the c/c++ course at gameinstitute. can't recomend it. it might be that it just didn't work well with my learning style.

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