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Digipen?

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Hello, I'm going to be a junior next year and i was thinking of attending DigiPen because i have a VERY big passion for game development, i've always wanted to not just play games but MAKE them.I am a very creative guy, i always have a interesting idea in mind. I was wondering should i attend DigiPen and enroll for the BSGD program or should i go to a regular 4 year university and get a degree in CS.I've heard that the work is going to be very hard, but I'm up to the challenge. I'm scared that if i do get a degree in Game development that i won't get a job. What skills should i be good at to get into DigiPen, such as math, etc, etc.

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If you somehow -know- that you really want to get into games, focus all of your energy on doing that. It won't matter what school you go to so much as it does you are good at what you want to do and can prove it. With that said, there is a bias towards a university degree over a trade type school like digipen. I honestly don't think it makes any difference (it depends as much or more on what you do out of school as it does in following the program, if you aren't a self-teacher it's going to be tough regardless of what you do), but not everyone feels the same way.

Read through some the FAQ at the top of this sub-forum and check out Tom Sloper's website, it will help you arrive at a decision on your own. This isn't something anyone here can tell you "go do x and you will achieve y" life is not so simple.

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I can be simple [smile]...

A normal CS degree is better in every way (assuming you want to be a programmer): more hire-able, better skills learned, transferable to other industries when you burn out, etc. This has been discussed to death, search around on the forums.

If you want to be a not-programmer: artist, designer, etc. Digipen is perhaps a more viable option.

-me

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Quote:
Original post by Palidine
I can be simple [smile]...

A normal CS degree is better in every way (assuming you want to be a programmer): more hire-able, better skills learned, transferable to other industries when you burn out, etc. This has been discussed to death, search around on the forums.

If you want to be a not-programmer: artist, designer, etc. Digipen is perhaps a more viable option.

-me


I guess it depends on what you mean by better. If your sole concern is having a more impressive piece of paper, university is what will do that for you. If you want a more project-oriented experience where game projects are not just "tolerated" but actually required, digipen might be better.

Digipen may give you a better chance to polish a nice portfolio, it may give you time to focus specifically on finding your favorite niche as it relates to games, and it will give you more focus on actually doing the craft. This comes at a bit of a cost, but there is definitely value in the approach.

University is a broad experience with a lot more interesting and important non-programming courses required. You will be better at math, you will be stronger in the fundamentals, and you will have a much better chance of finding a job out of the games industry.

Now, with that said, I've personally witnessed unemployable people come out of both programs. University grads are often unable to actually program. Digipen grads have huge gaps in their knowledge of basic computer science. You get what you put into it in either case.

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I'm going to differ a bit on what's been said, and in the interest of full disclosure, meantion that I am a Digipen Grad.

Firstly, I would like to dismiss the characterization of Digipen as a trade-school. While it is not the same, broad experience that most Universities offer, neither is it focussed on creating simple "footsoldiers" with only the skills du jour, as "trade schools" largely do, including the widely advertised, as-seen-on-TV game schools. Digipen goes to great lengths to give each student a solid and I dare-say accademic understanding of the topics they cover, and while most discussion has a game-oriented bent to keep things interesting, they do not teach in a fashion that leaves you only understanding problems in the realm of games. They also have made the concious decision not to teach APIs or game-engines, as new technologies and trends come and go -- at digipen, they teach the fundamentals, and expect students to be able to pick up the technology of the day on their own as part of their coursework. It is true that Digipen, as is Fullsail, are accredited by the same body as most trade schools, but this is more down to the fact that it is very difficult, and takes a number of years, to gain the kind of accreditation that your typical University has.


For most people, particularly those with any doubt of their commitment to the games industry or fears of burning out, I'll agree with Palidine that a Normal CS degree is better. However, I would not necessarily agree if the potential student is sure he wants to be in the industry. I'll not say that Digipen is any *better* than University for this student, only different.

Having had many friends from the CS department over at the University of Washington, which is a top-10 Computer Science school in the US with *amazing* facilities and staff, while I was at Digipen I have observed that the typical Digipen student was equally knowlegable and able to hold conversations and exchange ideas with the UW students just fine. They may not have had all the experiences that the UW student may have had (Compiler Theory, Operating Systems, for example) but they were able to understand and participate in the conversation meaningfully. On the flip side, Digipen studengs, by and large, come away with far more experience writing actual code in large-scale projects in a native, non-sandboxed, programming language, than the typical University student due to Digipen's focus on C and C++, and the sheer amount of code a student must generate across so many assignments and 6+ semester or year-long game projects.

What I'm driving at with this last bit is that Digipen students and University students will both have a unique set of exposures and require a unique set of extra study in order to make it in the games industry (or any specialized industry, for that matter.) So, in the end, I think there are really two important questions to ask yourself: 1) If you choose a game-focussed program, will you be motivated to fill in the gaps in your knowlege even when they are not presented under the light of game development? 2) What kind of social setting do you want to surround yourself with? -- On one hand, being surrounded by bright people who share your same interests and goals can be a boon for your understanding and drive (call it the MIT effect), but on the other, most universities provide much broader courses of study, electives, and social opportunities. Again, if your environment is lacking in one, you can always seek out the other -- it's a matter of what you want as part of the "package" and what you're willing and able to seek out for yourself.

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I don't think what I posted is in disagreement with what you have said, Ravyne. :)

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When a hiring manager looks at your resume the projects you did in school most likely won't be what they are looking at, regardless of whether it is game related or not. What they will look are the projects you did outside of class.

I would personally go for a standard CS degree if you want to be a programmer, get involved in some game related projects during the summer, and also work on some smaller games during the school year, also if you have the option for classes or independent study that are related to gamedev. This semester I am doing an independent study for parallel programming on the ps3, next semester I am taking a computer graphics course and extending the ray tracer I am writing for the cell processor in that class.

Like has been mentioned most of those game dev schools (especially for programming) leave many many holes in the education they present in class.

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I just want to echo that it's what you do outside of class that is going to be most significant. I've met many computer science students at ordinary universities who are extremely bad programmers--some of the worst I've ever seen. And then I've met some really brilliant students, and the difference is largely what they do outside of class.

Worry about the school, yes, but worry more about yourself and your own discipline.

That said, my recommendation is to go to an ordinary school, and my main reasons are the following: (1) you're human, and your interests will shift with time; it's simply unpredictable whether you'll really want to work in the game industry in four years or not; a regular university is significantly more accommodating of shifting interests; (2) a regular university can be a ton of fun: countless people to meet and become friends with, almost all of whom will have interests different from your own, countless subjects to study, a big, sprawling campus in the middle of a thriving town or city (hopefully [smile]) to become intimately familiar with over four years, etc.; (3) it seems to me wiser to take classes on the fundamentals at a regular university and learn about game development on your own time and over summers (internships maybe).

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