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Hi, I'm 17 years old, and i'm deciding what college I should apply to for computer programming/design. I have the skill and passion to learn the programming aspects of game engines but also I want to learn more 3d modeling/animation/design & scripting because i'm very creative and love art too. What I figure is, i'll focus more on which one I like the most, I also want to learn the most about game development as I can. I found two schools which I've been looking towards the most, I just wanted to know what others think about them towards game development and my interests. I've been in programming classes in HS for a year now, and i've been working with HTML since I was 9 and php since i was 13, I know these do not really pertain to programming, but I'm quick with learning and it's a start. Since being in programming, i'm now in the A level of computer science AB. The class I find is extremely boring, my teacher does not really teach it very well and I find myself learning out of the book and online information by myself. I feel like I need to take something more of game development since I find it more interesting than basic computer software development like a typical computer science class, but I will take what is needed ofcourse, but it's more of a 2nd choice, since I also want to learn the art side too. http://msacs.kennesaw.edu/overview.html <-- this is a community college in kennesaw,ga it's a traditional computer science course. i've been considering the art institute of atlanta the most though in their visual & game programming course, but I was wondering how much programming is involved, since i'd also like to learn how to program the engines. http://www.aia.aii.edu/programdegrees.asp?extraid=2231&pid=67&dtid=6 I've also been checking out ITT Tech and Devry's Game Dev. courses, which are both offered my in my area. What does everyone recommend? Thanks.

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rs131,

Congratulations on being one of the few who've identified their interests before finishing college, err...high school. =)

I'll answer your question in two ways. First, the discussion between game development programs and 4-year Computer Science programs is still a heated debate for some people. I myself attended a 4-year Undergrad program at the University of Missouri - Rolla and at the same time managed to pick up a B.S. in Psychology as well. In my personal experience as a professional game programmer I have found that people who took the path of a 4-year comp sci program often have a more profound understanding of computer science and are much more capable of handling the diverse problems that can occur in game development. As well, they often have much more establish math and problem solving skills.

With that being said, there are more and more game development schools becoming available and game companies DO look at those as viable options for junior programmers. So if you're positive game development is for you, and have the motivation to learn the things in your own time which you might not learn in a condensed game development program, then perhaps that's the best path for you.

Secondly, I was in a hiring position for nearly a year and I can tell you that there are primarily two schools which employers look at seriously for game development. Full Sail and DigiPen. Both have relatively solid programs and good repuations. I can, however, tell you from my past experience in grading programming tests, etc...that by and large DigiPen students faired better than Full Sail applicants. So if you want my personal advice, go to DigiPen before considering Full Sail. But if you want to stay close to home, Full Sail is in Florida, while DigiPen is in Washington.

Cheers!

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As what Jwalsh said, have a kind of Computer Science background is a definate plus but not always a must. It also depends what size of company you want to work for later, a big one probably tend to value education above knowledge gained from hobbying. Smaller companies tend to value skill above solid education. You can sell yourself by showing what you are capable of.

I'm 20 years old, doing 3th year of my education. Two weeks ago I got hired by a small company where I worked for my stage. They were impressed by my skills with C\C++ and proposed to finish the project I started on (believe me, when they tell you this it will give you a ego-bump). I know I hardly master any skill yet, but I'm getting in the direction atleast.

This would most likely not have happened when I would have been working for big company. They tend to have some specialist employed already and you wouldn't possibly get into the spotlight.

If you take a good look at the employees of 'leading' gamedeveloping companies, hardly any of them have a game related education (I'm talking about the programmers and gamedesigners), most of them are just geeks who are extremely good at what they do. If you have some very good skills and you can show them, then do this, I can serve as a base.

Here in the Netherlands, companies are just getting to hire new engineers and other IT'ers (there has been a big dip in economy here in this branch, which lead to a lost of thousands of jobs).

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My advice is to not go to a game programming/design school. The major reason is that you will be limiting yourself. Video games are interesting to you now, but you might discover something even more interesting in the next couple years that has nothing to do with video games.

Get a 4-year degree (or more) from a well-known university. Get the best education you can afford.

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Quote:

I was in a hiring position for nearly a year and I can tell you that there are primarily two schools which employers look at seriously for game development. Full Sail and DigiPen. Both have relatively solid programs and good repuations. I can, however, tell you from my past experience in grading programming tests, etc...that by and large DigiPen students faired better than Full Sail applicants.

Very good! I was recently accepted to attend DigiPen for it's four-year bacchelor's degree program in "Real-Time Interactive Simulations". I had heard it was *quite* the hard course, however. Do you know how well students who have attended that course have faired?

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I'm going to UAT starting this next fall they have a pretty cool program ther that includes a couple console programming classes and a handheld programming class both where the final project is to complete a game. You are limited to Nintendo Game Cube and Nintento Game Boy but still. They have a pretty cool program you can customise it to your liking taking classes for game design or game programming or both. They also have a MS in Game Design that extends beyond the BS in eithe Game Programming or Game Design. So its pretty cool.

DarcMagik

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Quote:
Original post by DragonGeo2
Quote:

I was in a hiring position for nearly a year and I can tell you that there are primarily two schools which employers look at seriously for game development. Full Sail and DigiPen. Both have relatively solid programs and good repuations. I can, however, tell you from my past experience in grading programming tests, etc...that by and large DigiPen students faired better than Full Sail applicants.

Very good! I was recently accepted to attend DigiPen for it's four-year bacchelor's degree program in "Real-Time Interactive Simulations". I had heard it was *quite* the hard course, however. Do you know how well students who have attended that course have faired?


Congrats in getting into DigiPen! It's a tough nut to crack, depending on whom you ask. I'm a recent alumnus from the DP Masters class. The Bachelor's program is tough in the sense that they push a very full course load on you from the start (averaging around 20 creds a semester), expect you to acclimate quickly, and do much of the learning / team building *outside* of class. If you're not a self-pacer, it can be very easy to get left behind. Nevertheless, it's a reputable school for a reason and I found the seniors to be very knowledgable and able to create some fun stuff. (Gooo Rumble Box!)

As for the "traditional vs. game college" point, I went traditional and I know a lot of friends that went straight into game school from high school. The main difference I found was fundamentals over specialization. My DigiPen colleagues could code realtime graphics backwards and forwards, leaving me in the dust, whereas basic data structures and algorithmic analysis tripped them up where I excelled. Because of this, DigiPen seniors hit the ground running as they're able to make games right out of school. But without a good grounding in the basics of software engineering, that'll only get you a few years before you burn out, or worse, become obsolete.(!)

Since you can compensate for either education by doing a little overtime studying (which you should be doing anyway), I say go for game school. That way, learning about the industry and developing your portfolio will be a lot easier. Not to mention that being there puts you in touch with a lot of contacts, which are very useful in getting your foot in that door. While there, use that precious little free time to bone up on applying data structures and algorithmic analysis to your code so that 5 years down the line, you're in a better position knowledge-wise to outpace your peers for that senior developer position.

Neither way's perfect, but game school gets you the industry knowledge you need, without leaving you with a bunch of "helpful" UNIX / Java projects on B+ trees as your "demo reel" for game companies. Not that I would know anything about that...[lol]

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Nicely put Socrates.

You fleshed out very well what I was trying to say above but didnt have the means to put it into words. I think you illustrated very well the differences between 4yr vs. game schools...and should help the OP make an independant decision.

Rating+++ for Socrates. Nice response!

Cheers!
Jeromy Walsh

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I wouldn't go to a game programming school because you are only going to meet game programmers there. You won't meet spanish majors or engineers or anthropologists or people that are only in school because it was the next step. Going to college is about learning, but being 19 is about becoming a person, and you have to make sure that you'll be able to address all of your needs wherever you go.

I did not go to a game programming school and so am completely unqualified to make the assertion that I just made. I'm not saying that people that go to game programming school are somehow boring or 2D people, but I feel pretty sure that I would have had a much harder time becoming who I wanted to become at a game school (despite how much I wanted to go to one when I was a senior ;))

To further qualify my already disclaimed opinion:

I am not one of the artsy snobs that thinks math is fake and computers are soulless. I have a degree in comp sci and mathematics, I programmed for Microsoft, I'm the biggest dork in the world. It's still SO important to me to get in on other perspectives and values. I'm really just very wary that they would be found lacking at a school dedicated to game programming (or any overly specialized school). I went to a public school (University of Maryland) and I have a resume better than most recent graduates. I don't feel disadvantaged (in terms of hireability) because I didn't go to Digipen (although MAN I wanted to in 12th grade ;))

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I feel compelled to speak up in agreement with rileyriley, another UMD alum. [smile]

I didn't know that I wanted to do game programming until my junior year of my Comp Sci degree. I don't think I had much of idea what to do at all until then. I dabbled in writing, physics, math, and philosophy until I settled on programming, something I wouldn't have been able to do had I gone to DigiPen at first. The specialization that DP specializes in is a two-edged sword; you'll be ahead of the game in the game industry, but not much in any other field. As cool as programming 3D model animations is, there's not much call for it outside game development.

That being said, I amend my earlier advice. If you're absolutely sure you want to go into game development and nothing else, do a game school. If, like 90% of anyone else, you're just not sure what the hell you want yet, do a traditional school. The broadened perspectives are worth it, and are a far sight better than being stuck in one field for the rest of your career.

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Yeah I understand what you guys mean... I'm completely clueless on what I want to do, I mean there is so much out there that I want to do, i've thought about being a chef, business, computers. Out of the 3, computers are my best skill, I have so much experience in computers at my age, i've been working with them since I was like born, my dad was in the technology field and we always had a computer in the house. I like programming but I like the art side of it more as in for entertainment because I'm very creative and if I don't have a job with creativity involved, i'd go insane. Also I need a career with computers, something that interests me (web design..., GAME DEVELOPMENT, or animation/special fx), otherwise i'd just find myself doing it outside of work, hating my job, being on the computer all the time, doing these as a hobby, which right now I do as a hobby and it's something I want to live up and do, enjoying it with a passion. I think you guys are right, I need to goto traditional schools first, learn a lot more stuff, afterall the art inst. is expensive, while I can goto other schools in Georgia for free on the HOPE scholarship for high gpa. I looked towards Georgia Tech, they have a great computer science area, teaching everything including graphics and games, and etc. I'd also like to continue on my fine arts and maybe some economics. Afterwards, I'd like to find some schools and learn more game programming and/or animation, so if by some chance I get sick of game development :-\ I can go into animation or special fx which I also enjoy. So I think Georgia Tech would be the best bet for me to go, I think they have a great program :

GA TECH:

http://www.cc.gatech.edu/component/option,com_wrapper/Itemid,116/

I also found this place which has a game/design program, it seems better than the others, what do you guys have to say about this one?

http://www.scad.edu/academic/majors/itgm/courses.cfm

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To reiterate what jwalsh brought up, the two big schools that game companies know and trust currently are Full Sail (Florida) and DigiPen (Washington), both because they've been around long enough and they've produced good developers. There are a lot of schools trying to get onto the "Game Design degree" bandwagon with varying success. Most of these curricula have had much less time to fully blossom, and some schools just want your money(!), so you have to be very critical of exactly what you're getting for your cash.

First off, classes. The school should offer classes that move you towards your final job goal. If you want to program, they should offer a lot of programming classes, etc. Also, you want to maximize your class-to-portfolio ratio, i.e. you want walk out of each class with as much to add to your living body of work as possible. If you see "Advanced Animation Techniques", you think, "Ah, I'll get a good animation demo or three out of this." and so on. "Game Project" classes are golden as ideally you walk out of them with a full, hopefully impressive game. Plus, they give you the best feel for how working on a game development team will be.

Secondly, auxillary resources. How hooked up is your school, resource-wise? Schools like UAT and DigiPen have access to SDKs, computer labs, books, people, etc. that smaller schools may not. Any good program can teach a student to program real-time graphics and game engines (note the adjective "good" [smile]), so resources can be the tipping point for whether or not you decide to drop $40K and 4 years on a school.

All in all, the name of the game is scrutiny. Look up various programs' curricula and compare. See which has more comprehensive classes, more opportunities to develop your demo reel, more tools to help you develop more impressive content while you're there. Any classes / resources that a school is lacking you'll have to make up on your own in addition to the money/time you're paying the school. Make sure not to waste either.

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If you're into the artistic side of things as well as the engineering side why not try to find a liberal arts school with a CS program? That way you can get your 4 year degree in CS, but also have options to study a wide range of topics while you're at school. I'm a big believer that college is about expanding your knowledge and not specializing. IMHO, grad school is where you start specializing.

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Go to gatech if you get in. Good school, tough competition, instate, and
lots of tech classes. CS dept is good, but it is like most research schools..sink or swim. No one holds your hand at tech. They should have the new cs building done sometime soon. As far as social life for undergrads...well its not athens. I do networking research in multimedia(virtual worlds)...but i am in ece not cs.

SCAD has a decent reputation but it is private and costs out the ass. I have seen their cg classes online, but not sure the quality. They have an atl campus now if you plan on staying at home in kennesaw...only problem with staying at home is the traffic from midtown to kennesaw sucks.

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Get you're degree from GA Tech in CS, keep learning more about game programming on the side, and when you're finished, you should be able to get a foot in the door.

PS, I got a CSdegree from GA Tech, and while I never wanted to be a professional Game DEveloper, I have a great job, making great money, and I'm only 6 years out of school.

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I haven't exactly read any of this long thread. But I can assure you, if you want to learn exactly how games work (including modeling, art, programming, PR, we even design a damned box for each game, etc), you have to go to Digipen. I'm going there currently. www.digipen.edu It is the most intensive school I've been to by far. I toured Lehigh, GA Tech, and went to Oklahoma State and Northwestern Univ. Now I'm going here. You will be happy when you only have to attend 20 hours of class per semester, and the only reason I'm getting out in 3.5 years is an internship counting as credit and a ton of transfer credit. Currently I have, that I'd have to say has a pretty good work ethic, and he is taking a class for the 3rd time because he can't pull a C- in it. So if you are up for a challenge and a half, look in Digipen's direction. I promise, that no other school could compare to classes and everything else we do.
The majors offered are RTIS (Real Time Interactive Simulation) - programming; and art something (a lot of concept art / sketches, then 3D modelling with 3D Studio Max). As you can probably tell, I'm on the programming side.

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Personally I would advise the OP to go to GaTech for free. They've got a fine program, and (at least 10 years ago) had an exceptionally large and skilled bunch of gamers there. You can always use the money you saved via scholarship to attend DigiPen or FullSail as a post-graduate.

[edit: typo]

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i was on a site, i believe its studentreview.com, and there was about 10 pages of comments on Full Sails. Completely and utterly destroyed their rep. 99.9% of the feedback/comments were negative. I wont even look into Full Sails anymore. As for digipen, i havent heard anything about it except that its a good college.

And honestly, unless your rich you are probably going to pay for college so you're going to pay $50k or more. Choose wisely is all i have to say.

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I agree. Choose wisely.

If I would have done my homework, I'd have realized there's a limit to federal loans. I figured that I'd get a BS for general programming and then head to game programming after a couple of years of getting broad strokes in software development.

Unfortunately, I didn't find out that they wasn't going to give me any more money unless I was going for a masters after my second semester at Westwood College in Denver.

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currently I'm studying architecture at one of the renowned universities in Poland, but I'm looking forward to start attending UAT next year.

more than in games, I am interested in virtual reality and AI programming. their program suits my interests at 100%: programming and project design and development.

as for now, I'm going to take online classes to get acclimatized to the brand new study programme, but I'm hoping that within a year I'll switch to the on-campus mode.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I am a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, and although it's not a super well known school, it has a pretty tough CS program. Im finishing up second semester right now and as a senior in highschool I wanted to go to DigiPen or Georgia Tech more than anything in the world. I couldn't afford GT(27,000 + / yr) and I went out to DigiPen and found out that it really doesn't have much at all. I sat in on a few classes, which seemed fairly easy at the time, but the campus is really just a blank building with some lecture halls and computer labs, and a parking lot and a 7/11 down the street. The Nintendo building is nearby but there isn't much to do. It also as others have said limits your development as a person, everyone there is there for the same reason, and although it's an ambitious reason, there arn't really any extracurriculur stuff you can do, intermural sports etc., fun stuff like that, as well as a VERY limited group of girls, if thats what your interested in ;p. College is about learning and discovering, and I believe it would be hard for you to discover yourself as well as what you want from like in a full perspective without having people made up of different dimensions than you. Everyone there will be almost just like you and striving for the same thing. But whatever you do, good luck with your decisions,

Cheers, -Karakadin

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Honestly, rs131, if you've got a full ride to GT, you should go there-- but be sure to head over to the ETC they have. Georgia Tech is a very competitive school and offers a solid curriculum. If you can't get in to a game company when you're done, try to get into the master's program at DigiPen.

HarryYan, there is a school in Montreal that UbiSoft is trying to start. I have no idea how it is. Digipen *used* to be in Canada.

@anonposter from UNH:
Classes are anything but easy. Since you design and make your own games, you are as free to hurt yourself with complication as your heart desires. You probably sat in on a few Freshman classes-- trust me, it gets harder. The state of our high school education in the US is nothing short of pathetic, and the classes have to accomodate that in the first year. I know guys that had straight A's in HS that didn't make it through the first year, let alone the second.
It's true, though, that there isn't a lot to look at here. There are sports that we put together ourselves, but it's really geared towards people serious about getting in the industry. Those serious about appearances need not apply. Well, except for the lack of women. Women, appearances or no, please apply!

Acobar:
Westwood? Those guys with the 'tighten up the graphics' commercials? They're still around?

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