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I know it's been said before, but a representative visited my High School from Digipen today and it really interested me. Now, I've never been too sure if I want to go to Digipen. First of all, I know for sure I want to major in Computer Science/Programming. Also, I really would like to get into the video game industry, but I do not want to 100% limit myself to that. My parents suggest I go to the University of Washington and get my Bachelor's in Computer Science, and then consider Digipen. They want to see me with a more rounded schedule that contains English and History and such. Any opinions on that idea? Also, I was wondering about job applications. When a big company (game company?) is reviewing applications for a programming job, and they see a student that went all the way through Digipen vs. a student who went to a normal university, what would go through their head? If anyone could help me out with these questions, and maybe just give some more necessary information, that'd be great. Thanks for any help.

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I can't really offer advice that would be meaningful, and I'm not sure if anyone really can... every place is different and is going to have different standards. The best places to look at are going to care about your enthusiasm and demonstratable abilities more than what school you studied at.

Will a degree from Digipen probably give you an edge in finding a job in the games industry, at the cost of turning off some insignificant fraction of employers outside of the games industry? It wouldn't surprise me. Digipen will probably force you to make the kinds of resources that can be shown around to employers, or at the very least would probably have a better idea of what kinds of things employers would be impressed by.

Will a degree from U of W be turn off? I highly, highly doubt it.

As a newcomer to the industry (<1 years experience, though I'm getting closer to that full year every day), I work with a former NASA JPL programmer, a DigiPen graduate, a guy who never went to college, and bunch of guys who went to various universities and colleges around the country, from New York state to Washington state, and I personally earned my degree from Rolla, Missouri. These are some very cool people with everywhere from 10+ to <1 years of experience in the industry, and I'm proud to be a part of this team.

Frankly, I wouldn't want to work at a place that felt that where I earned my degree from or even what GPA I earned was more important than whether I would make a good and valuable teammate on their projects.

Edit: I should comment, and this is mentioned in other topics as well, but one of the advantages of a university education over many more specialized programs is that a well-rounded education does have a tendency to come in handy, both personally and professionally. Of course my coworkers are game fans, but some are also history buffs, some are science dweebs, some are fans of literature, music, film... it takes all types and it's awesome to be able to have some understanding of what they appreciate about their hobbies and be able to talk to them about other things besides games. Also, in an inherently creative industry as the games industry is, having a wider variety of ideas to draw from is frequently its own reward in every sense.

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well, I understand the common view that a well rounded education would be largly prefferable to something as specialized as Digipen, and certainly whatever I say should be taken with a grain of salt, since in the end what's right for me won't be right for the next guy. However... there's no doubt in my mind that what Digipen offers is really something quite special. Digipen teaches you how to code, all the basics... all the theory, but you know what Digipen has that is so unusual compared to most schools? I can't talk about UW really, because I don't know.. although my roomate spent a year at the university of North Dakota before he came here, (I'm a junior by the way) and he tells me about how they only learn Java there for the first two years, and how they only had to spend a few hours a week coding to make it. The truth about what digipen offers, is a chance to become someone who will succeed. I blazed through highschool, an because of it I wasn't someone who could truly apply himself to anything because I'd never had to before. Decide carefully if Digipen is what's right for you, it's the hardest thing I've ever done. And about what you want to do for a living... if you can code for games, you can really do anything else. If you can make it through here, learning some sql or some MFC code to do something... ehm... more boring than making games really wouldn't be that hard. No offense to UW, I'm sure it's a great school and all, but I've spent a year and a half of my life now on the 'true' digipen curriculum... that's 6~7 classes a semester, nothing but math, physics, and code... and you know what? Without that kind of punishment, I can't imagine four years would prepare anyone for what's coming. If you're serious about games, I heard that it takes someone with a normal 4 year degree two years to become a good member of a game dev team after graduating, but most Digipen people can make it in just a few weeks... although I did hear these stats from the school, so I really don't know. The bottom line, is I've never had to spend 50 hours a week on homework for months at a time before in my life, it's unreal... you won't get that anywhere else. If you can take the heat, whether you want to do games or not, by all means go to Digipen. You won't regret it. Just be careful... when the freshmen year averages 250 or so, and the graduating class is always around 40, ask yourself very carefully if this is really what you want. I've lost more than one friend who thought this was what he wanted, and couldn't keep up. Here's the real question then... most types of coding work isn't so bad really, maybe UW will manage to prepare you, who knows? But with the next gen systems, and hightened expecations for next gen products, it's going to take a new breed to take it on... the normal 'simplified java' curriculum just won't cut it. If you have to wait until your junior year to start learning something as basic as pointers, what good is that? Oh yes, and the last thing of interest. I saw the stats for employers highering out Digipen students... you'll probably be able to get a job with a good portfolio wherever you learned, and there's no gaurantee you'll get good just by coming to Digipen, or that you won't by going anywhere else. But Digipen doesn't let people out unless they know their stuff.. employers know this, and that's why 98% of the students get jobs within the first 6 months. Less than a week ago, Monolith sent it's CEO to our school, just to talk to us. That's why every year, dozens of companies send out scouts to Digipen to check out what the juniors and seniors are doing... anyway, that's enough ranting for now. I made the right choice when I came here, and I won't lie when I say it's changed the whole course of my life. It's changed who I am, and what I'm capable of... without the pain of going through something as brutal as this, I wouldn't have become who I am now.

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Not having been to Digipen, my point is not as useful as I would like it to be, but I suppose I'm obliged to play the hand that has been played in previous threads like this:

As the last person mentioned, be very certain you want to do game dev if you enrol at digipen; they may churn out amazing game programmers/artists, etc -- but if you get part way through a degree and decide you really don't like it -- you'll have paid a lot for nothing. Hence, there is really no harm in doing a traditional computer science course -- if you're willing to learn extra useful gamedev stuff on the side (as I have made myself do) -- plus, you'll be exposed to all sorts of other aspects of Computer Science that you might end up liking more than game dev (I will admit, the prospect of working on artificial lifeforms makes me pause to consider what I am aiming for). Either way, if you choose the latter path -- be sure to do as Mr Carmack suggests -- program every day. Find tasks that challenge you and keep at them -- to be good, nay to be the best, you have to keep challenging yourself :)

~Shiny, senior computer science student (graduating soon!)

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Your parents are right. You should get a more-rounded education first, and then specialize. You are already specializing by choosing computer science, so it is important to get a more-rounded education in the area of computer science before specializing in that.

The main reason for getting a more-rounded education at this point is that you don't really know very much about computer science (though you might think you do). How can you decide what area interests you the most if you don't even know what the different areas are? Most kids want to make video games because that's all they know about. There are other areas of computer science (and even other fields of science) that can be just as interesting, fun, and exciting to work in, such as cryptography, robotics, AI, control systems, recombinant DNA, electronics, etc. The list goes on forever. If you choose only video games now, you are throwing away a lot of opportunities.

Now, as someone who has worked in the video game industry for a while and who interviews and hires people, here is what I have to say about Digipen: I don't know much about Digipen. I don't have any bad opinions, but I don't have any good opinions, either. What does that mean? It means that going to Digipen will not help you get a job in the industry over a 4-year degree from a well-known university (such as U of W). In fact, it might actually hurt you because it is perceived by most people as just a trade school.

Finally, here is the reality. Going to Digipen (or any of the other video game schools) will not guarantee you a job in the video game industry. It is very difficult to get into the industry. You should keep your options open. If you can't get a job in the video game industry (or you decide you don't want to make video games for a living), then a degree from Digipen isn't going to be worth much, whereas a degree from a well-known university will help you get a job anywhere.

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Quote:
Original post by JohnBolton
Finally, here is the reality. Going to Digipen (or any of the other video game schools) will not guarantee you a job in the video game industry. It is very difficult to get into the industry. You should keep your options open. If you can't get a job in the video game industry (or you decide you don't want to make video games for a living), then a degree from Digipen isn't going to be worth much, whereas a degree from a well-known university will help you get a job anywhere.


QFT.

As a Digipen student, I would encourage you to go to a traditional college, at least for a few years. If, after that, you still are set on game developement, transfer into digipen. The extra credits you will be able to transfer in will be very helpfull.

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Quote:
If you can't get a job in the video game industry (or you decide you don't want to make video games for a living), then a degree from Digipen isn't going to be worth much, whereas a degree from a well-known university will help you get a job anywhere.


I'd beg to differ. If you can program video games, you should be able to be a programmer for almost anything. This being because game programmers have to be very efficient in their code to make games actually work real-time (without lag, react to user input).

Game programmers can put stuff on the screen, handle huge amount of logical paths, do very high level mathematical calculations for physics, AI, etc. And obviously, with all of the coding experience, it isn't hard to see how a game programmer could very easily be a database programmer or catch on to almost any other kind of coding fairly quickly.

I know people that have graduated from Digipen and are not in the game business, and they seem to be doing just fine ;)

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I agree. A digipen, guild hall, fullsail bachelors or equivilent doesn't limit you any more than a normal CS degree. There are plenty of colleges with a CS program that leaves their graduates with very little clue about how to develop a large scale program, so just because they are a CS program doesn't put them ahead of these sort of specialty schools in any significant way. As a Fullsail grad myself, first doing 2 years with a vis sim job, and now at a game developer, many of my classmates are also in game development jobs, while some others are in non game industry programming jobs, and one of them is a systems architect for Ageia.

Simply going to x school doesn't significantly limit you, in the end the main thing that limits you is how hard you worked and pushed yourself during your schooling. Doing the minimum to get by, regardless of school, to get your degree will likely leave you with a difficult time finding a job. The piece of paper doesn't guarantee you anything.

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I was not commenting at all on the quality of the education at Digipen vs. other schools. What I was saying is this: when you apply for a job, a degree is a form of certification. Most people outside of the game industry have never heard of Digipen and so will not consider a degree from Digipen as a reputable certification.

Obviously there are other factors involved that cannot be ignored since people are able to get jobs despite having degrees from schools that nobody has ever heard of. The situation is not as bleak as I may have portrayed it.

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