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scutajar

Choosing a Masters course

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Well, I'm currently in my final year of a 3 year degree with Honours from the University of Malta. (Our education system is similar to the British system, and is meant to fit in with the 3+2 initiative, 3 years degree and 2 years of Masters). The degree I chose is a Bachelors of Science (with Honours) in Information and Communication Technology. This means I have equal exposure to computer science, computer engineering and computer information systems.

(So yes, I've done all the essential credits like data structures and algorithms, object oriented development, software engineering, discrete structures, operating systems and artificial intelligence. I've also taken credits that I feel are interesting, such as computer modelling and simulation and digital signal processing. My thesis also happens to be game centric.)

I'm currently weighing my options for a Masters course, and I seem to have settled for a Masters in Media Technology and Games from the IT University in Copenhagen. It's a 2 year course that not teaches game engine development and game design, but also has a focus on artificial intelligence as well as allowing space for other interests in the form of elective credits.

I have quite a number of reasons for choosing ITU's course too.
  • They teach C++. We get limited (if any) exposure to C++ at the University of Malta. I know I can probably pick this up on my own, given the time, but this is not my main worry.
  • The course is centred around AI. We have nearly a whole semester's worth of credits dedicated to artificial intelligence and its use in games. I like the area of artificial intelligence and have already taken some credits related to AI and machine learning back home.
  • Assignments and projects are designed so that you can work with people from different areas and backgrounds. This should be similar to the industry.
  • It's a 2 year course. I know it's still a Masters course and it will probably be intensive, but being a 2 year course means that I have more time for myself to explore other areas of interest.
  • You gain contacts with people already in the industry, as well as people who might eventually make it to the industry later on.
    However, I've been looking around on the Internet and I'm concerned about the fact that other employers outside the games industry might not consider a games-centric masters as being relevant, essentially limiting myself to the games industry.

    My question is, should I consider a Masters course in modelling and simulation, or maybe a course in artificial intelligence, and ultimately keep my options open? My aim is to work in the games industry, but if that fails for some reason, I'd like to keep my options open so that I might be considered for areas such as computer modelling and simulation or innovative jobs such as what this company provides. Is a games development degree relevant for these types of jobs?

    Although I'd like to get a job in the games industry (I've been designing games on paper ever since I was a child. I've dabbled in Klik and Play, RPG Maker and other game creators, and I'm working on coding stuff to fill my portfolio with), I'm worried about the job's instability (bouncing from studio to studio). There is no games industry here in Malta whatsoever, although I've heard of one indie game company working with Flash games, but I have no problem relocating.

    I'm also looking to take a designer role, but since they don't hire designers right off the bat, I have no problem with taking the programming route and working my way up. I'm quite comfortable with programming.

    I've read Tom Sloper's articles on his website several times, as well as lurked on the forums for a while, but I thought directly contacting people who might actively be able to direct me and give me advice would be a good idea too.

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However, I've been looking around on the Internet and I'm concerned about the fact that other employers outside the games industry might not consider a games-centric masters as being relevant, essentially limiting myself to the games industry.

My question is, should I consider a Masters course in modelling and simulation, or maybe a course in artificial intelligence, and ultimately keep my options open? My aim is to work in the games industry, but if that fails for some reason, I'd like to keep my options open so that I might be considered for areas such as computer modelling and simulation or innovative jobs such as what this company provides. Is a games development degree relevant for these types of jobs?

Don't worry about "relevancy" or about shackling yourself to subject matter. Worry about following your PASSIONS. Go for what YOU WANT to go for. A degree does not shackle you for life to a particular subject matter. But even if it did, what else should you shackle yourself to but something you're passionate about?

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Great! I guess I'll be going for that Danish Masters then.

I was simply worried about the fact that I saw a number of posts on forums online that openly told people not to get into game development because of working conditions, pay and stuff like that. Another stated that he was fed up with jumping around from one studio to another since they were all collapsing, and another post implied that people would get tired of the work after 10 years.



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There are bad things and good things about the game industry, just as there are about any other industry. And things go differently for different people in the industry. One gets grousers in every walk of life.
If you're scared off by bad QoL issues in games, then OK, what industry are you going to go into instead?
Read the info about game biz QoL (Quality of Life) in Gamasutra and at igda.org -- know what you're getting into.

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Also when choosing your industry, there are QoL issues in every field.

It varies by company, it varies by project, it varies by team, it varies by individual.

There are programmers developing business software and deploying databases that have far worse working conditions than games programmers. There are some game studios where the reverse is the case. And compared to many non-technical jobs where extended hours and unsavory shifts are required in addition to manual labor, game programmers have a very good QoL.

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Thanks frob .

I guess I'll go for a Masters in Games then and see how it goes from there. :)

I've read a bit about QoL in the games industry, and apparently conditions have improved since EA_spouse's intervention. I guess it's a company-by-company thing.


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