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Going to college for game development (feedback would be appreciated)

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I am 17 currently and I am looking to take up game development as a career...I do realize that going to college for game development is more like icing on the cake for people who are talented. I am currently faced with a dilemna between 3 schools that are mentioned quite often: FullSail, UAT, and Digipen. I am leaning more towards UAT and Digipen than Fullsail because I've read from many sources that many students that go to Fullsail go into the gamedev degree unprepared and come out unprepared. So I'm looking to anyone who graduated from one of these three schools or any other school that offered a gamedev degree for a little help on picking a school. If it help any in providing advice I have a little experience in programming for 2D games and I've worked with Maya before. Any help or comments are appreciated, thank you

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I disagree with your first statement. In the company I work for, our HR people won't even forward your resume on to the teams without a proven track record (i.e. we already know who you are) or a 4 year college degree.

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Sloperama link, see items 2, 3, and 4.
Sloperama link, using a decision grid to decide on a school or anything else.
Sloparama link, an example decision grid based on the question of which school to attend.

Quote:
I do realize that going to college for game development is more like icing on the cake for people who are talented.

That was true two decades ago. That market no longer exists. There are very rare exceptions, but in my experience I've worked with very few developers who fit that mold. Each of them came in at the tail end of the no-degree-required phase of the industry and now have multiple game credits. One of them got in recently but came through a non-traditional route -- he developed his own game that did very well in the homebrew marketplace (had a solid game credit) in addition to being self taught at about the level of an associates degree in CS. That is a rare exception to the rule.

A two year degree is essential. A four year degree is preferred. Some places will throw out any application that doesn't list a four year degree.

Talent is good, but will only get you so far. A talented programmer who has no social skills, doesn't participate in the team, and believes that they should be given an assignment and then locked in a room until they are finished, will quickly be out of work. Someone who is dependable, participates in the group (not necessarily conforms, but participates), makes small but regular contributions, and otherwise contributes to a positive workplace will always find work and quickly develop a bunch of good references.
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3 schools that are mentioned quite often

For the most part, I don't care what school you attended. If it is the school I attended I think to myself "Cool, we have something in common." If it is a big name school, I tend to be a little more cautious. It could mean that they are good, hard workers, or just have rich parents.

The biggest thing I care about when hiring is "can you do the job?" Good evidence include game demos, proof that you actually finish projects even when they are tough, and any evidence of working successfully on team software development projects.

A four year degree implies two of those three pieces of evidence. You saw a multi-year project through to completion, and you (hopefully) worked with one or more groups during that time.

Quote:
I have a little experience in programming for 2D games and I've worked with Maya before.

A little experience doesn't matter to me or other employers. Everybody can get a little experience by dabbling with the tools for a week.

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Unprepared people go to DigiPen and fail out, too, you know.

I would strongly suggest that you expand your college search domain to include "regular" schools as well. There's no disadvantage to doing so; a "regular" CS degree (for example) is likely to be just as accepted as a degree from a "game development" school. In all cases the degree is only really important for the resume-review stage, once you get to an actual interview, it will be your knowledge that's tested, and nobody will care where you went to school.

However, there is a huge disadvantage to ignoring all other non-"game development" schools. There is more to selecting a school than just the name of your degree; you want to go to a place you'll actually enjoy being at, that offers courses and programs you want to take, and so on. Game development schools are very, very focused, and don't usually have the same depth of social experience you will find elsewhere. The intense focus of their coursework usually means that if you do decide to change your mind during school, you don't have many options to pick from. Also, even if you don't change your mind, the options for electives (which can help make you a more well-rounded, appealing potential employee) tend to be very limited.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that you should go to the school that appeals to you the most, and that since "regular" schools have no disadvantages as far as breaking into the industry goes, you are only hurting yourself by removing them from the set of potential schools simply because they don't have "game development" degrees.

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