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Jonathan_Morrow

Soon-to-be CS grad looking for advice on changing career paths.

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After attending PAX East in March, something finally clicked: I want to be part of the game industry. For the longest time I have secretly been gearing my curriculum towards gaming, but for some reason have avoided the possibility of a career as a game developer. There is one problem though, I graduate in two weeks with a B.S. in Computer Science. I have to admit, it’s not a huge problem and even a step in the right direction, even if a slightly miscalculated one. It’s not quite the specialized curriculum of something like a Fullsail or DigiPen trade school educations, but it has for the most part excluded any kind of gaming related curriculum and focused heavily on theory which has left me a little concerned. So at this point, I’m a little lost on what to do. I have tried looking for entry-level positions and internships in quality assurance and game design and programming, but fell short when it came to qualifications, most often because I don’t have a portfolio for gaming. To say the least, I’ve had little experience in game development and programming, outside of a select few of undergraduate projects, and have geared myself heavily towards web development before this point. I would love to get started on portfolio, but finding a starting point has been difficult. Even more pressing is the fact that I need to find a job so I don’t starve before I get to the point that I can actually start programming. I have been contemplating this for a while and I’ve come up with a few solutions: 1. Continuing my education and pursuing a MS in Computer Science that heavily focuses game design and development (like DigiPen). Seems like a good all around approach, fostering my love for programming and my growing interest in gaming. 2. Continuing my education and pursuing a MS gaming specific degree. Only issue is I’m not really sure what kind of curriculum I’m missing. Issues vary based on the institutions: RIT requires a portfolio, DePaul suggests that it’s accessible to CS grads looking to retool towards game programming, some require prerequisite courses to be taken, etc.. I also heard that gaming specific degrees frequently receive priority when it comes to hiring. 3. Keep hammering away at internships or try to get a job with what I’ve got, self-teach myself and putting together a portfolio on my own. Seem like the more difficult approach, seeing as I don’t have a clue on where to begin. But with my final and busiest semester wrapping up, I've had little luck deciding on what to do. So! I’d greatly appreciate any advice from anyone with industry experience, or anyone at all. Time keeps ticking away, and while I keep pushing out resumes for regular programming positions, I don’t feel like I’m making any progress towards my goal.

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Original post by Telastyn
These are all fine options (assuming #3 involves looking for non-gamedev jobs too).

Focus on stability first. Nobody here knows what will work best for you.


Yeah, option three is my current fall-back option, which I'm working on at the moment until I figure things out. I was lucky enough to find a few entry level programming positions in some accessible areas.

I'm not asking so much what the reader thinks will work best for me, I'm more concerned about the quality of the education from some of these MS programs compared to being self taught when applied to an entry level programming position and what a prospective employer would like to see, or if it would even matter considering that I already have a BS in Computer Science.

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Original post by Jonathan_Morrow
I have been contemplating this for a while and I’ve come up with a few solutions...

You have already identified that you lack the necessary gaming portfolio yet none of your suggested options include fixing that problem. Even if you attend a game focused course you will still need additional items to fill out your portfolio. In other words, if you want to be a games programmer, you need to start programming games.

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You do realize that a vast majority of the people working in the industry just have regular B.S. right? And most of those weren't game centered in any way. If you read the forums a lot of people here are very anti gaming school degrees. Having a game school degree is just as likely to get your resume trashed as not having one. Sure you didn't hear that from a Fullsail recruiter?

Three is probably your best bet. College should have given you the tools to be a game programmer now you just need to work on a portfolio. I'm of the opinion that masters degree is probably just a waste of time. Thats two or three years you could be getting experience instead. Contracting might be a way to go as well. I've gotten to contracts never showing any kind of portfolio work but then I've got more then college classes to put on my resume as well.

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