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2 associates vs a BA

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Hi everyone. I've often read that you must get a BA degree relating to helping get you into the industry and wanted to know something. What if you instead get an associates in game development and an another associates degree in computer science or information technology at a community college? would that be much count? Or do I really need a BA to have a good chance of a job?
Thanks

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An associates degree is, for most purposes, worthless. It takes little to no effort to obtain, and really looks bad on a resume.

Get a Bachelors, or double major and get two.

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You don't necessarily need a degree -- I've worked with some brilliant programmers who were degree-less. However, if there's a lot of competition for a job, then good formal education can help keep your resume on the short-list.

The term 'associate degree' is still very new here in Australia so I might be off the mark, but from what I can tell they're seen as being equivalent of the first year from a Bachelors degree, so they probably wouldn't hold the same weight when it comes to keeping your resume on the HR officer's desk, instead of their bin.

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[quote name='Happygamer' timestamp='1297926142' post='4775287']
Hi everyone. I've often read that you must get a BA degree relating to helping get you into the industry and wanted to know something. What if you instead get an associates in game development and an another associates degree in computer science or information technology at a community college? would that be much count? Or do I really need a BA to have a good chance of a job?
Thanks
[/quote]The standard degree for game programmers is a [b]bachelors degree[/b] in [b]computer science[/b].

Not an associates degree. Not a trade degree. It doesn't matter if you go for science or arts, just make sure it is the full four year degree. It doesn't need to take you four years to get it, I've known plenty of programmers who earned a BS degree in three years, and a handful who finished in two.

Not the title computer programming. Not computer technology. Not information systems. The degree program is Computer Science.

Trade schools like Full Sail complicate the matter a little bit. They are trade degrees rather than Computer Science. I only know two co-workers who went to the game industry trade schools, and they simply lack the breadth and depth of knowledge to compete with their peers. Both are behind in the promotion cycles from the others who joined the company around the same time. They surprise us by tripping on some of the most simple CS tasks at random times.


If money is the issue, it is just fine to get an associates degree at a cheaper state school or community college and then transfer to an inexpensive local university to finish their bachelor's program. However you do it, make sure it is a bachelors degree in computer science from any accredited school.

Most HR desks will simply discard programmer applications that don't have a CS degree. There is an awfully big stack of applicants and the vast majority have those credentials and more. If you hope to compete, you need to get the background education.

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[quote name='frob' timestamp='1297928903' post='4775306']
[quote name='Happygamer' timestamp='1297926142' post='4775287']
Hi everyone. I've often read that you must get a BA degree relating to helping get you into the industry and wanted to know something. What if you instead get an associates in game development and an another associates degree in computer science or information technology at a community college? would that be much count? Or do I really need a BA to have a good chance of a job?
Thanks
[/quote]The standard degree for game programmers is a [b]bachelors degree[/b] in [b]computer science[/b].

Not an associates degree. Not a trade degree. It doesn't matter if you go for Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts, just make sure it is the full four year degree. It doesn't need to take you four years to get it, I've known plenty of programmers who earned a BS degree in three years, and a handful who finished in two.

Not the title computer programming. Not computer technology. Not information systems. The degree program is Computer Science.


Trade schools like Full Sail complicate the matter a little bit. They are trade degrees rather than Computer Science. I only know two co-workers who went to the game industry trade schools, and they simply lack the breadth and depth of knowledge to compete with their peers. Both are behind in the promotion cycles from the others who joined the company around the same time. They surprise us by tripping on some of the most simple CS tasks at random times.


Most HR desks will simply discard programmer applications that don't have a CS degree. There is an awfully big stack of applicants and the vast majority have those credentials and more. If you hope to compete, you need to get the background education.
[/quote]

It's probably different in game development, but to be honest: I don't care what you have your degree in, just as long as you have a degree (of at least bachelor or greater). Most CS students I've met couldn't program or theorize their way out of a box, they just don't get to implement much of anything at all. At the same time, I agree completely on trade schools (as do some [url="http://scientificninja.com/blog/on-game-schools"]others[/url]). My main interest in someone having a degree is that it shows their willingness to be dedicated to a subject for a period of up to four years that comes with little reward (and usually a great deal of debt).

For a software development project that may run into the years, the knowledge of their ability to be dedicated enough to pull through often matters more than what they focused on during their college days. That's not to say that I would hire any unskilled laborer who came to me with a bachelors, but that having A bachelors (in any subject) counts for a lot more than having no bachelors at all. Obviously if the CS candidate can get past my interview questions (and no, I don't use [url="https://scapecode.com/2009/10/a-simple-c-quiz/"]my C++ quiz[/url] when interviewing since it would rule out 99% of all developers who claim to know C++ in the first place), then they're probably more likely to get hired than the non-CS candidate just because of all that theory they studied.

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[quote name='Hodgman' timestamp='1297927661' post='4775295']
The term 'associate degree' is still very new here in Australia so I might be off the mark, but from what I can tell they're seen as being equivalent of the first year from a Bachelors degree, so they probably wouldn't hold the same weight when it comes to keeping your resume on the HR officer's desk, instead of their bin.
[/quote]In the US, post-secondary education looks basically like this:

Associates degree = roughly 18-24 months. Depending on the school about half of the time is spent outside your major on general education topics.
Bachelors degree = roughly four years, or associates degree + 2 years mostly in your major or related topics like math. Many schools let you test out of first-year classes if you ask.
Masters degree = Bachelors degree + 2 years of on-topic study. Many schools require a masters thesis or published research paper, but a few have coursework-only programs. Most graduate schools allow up to four years, and I've known people who finish in just over a year.
PhD in computer science = Masters + 2 years of research or Bachelors + 4 years of on-topic study, sometimes taking a few years more than this in complex research topics. Nearly all require either a PhD thesis or multiple published papers. Some students will skip the master's degree, but the ones I knew preferred to lock in the master's degree as an intermediate step.


Perhaps this is just because I've always lived in highly educated areas, but in my 15-year career I've never been at a company that lacked applicants with bachelors degrees. Every new hire I've known of has either had a degree or was finishing it up at the time of hire. That being said, there are 5 inexpensive universities within one hour from my home (two, the University of Utah and BYU have very highly regarded CS programs) and several good local community colleges, so this area is covered by educated people.

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[quote name='frob' timestamp='1297929767' post='4775316']That being said, there are 5 inexpensive universities within one hour from my home (two, the University of Utah and BYU have very highly regarded CS programs) and several good local community colleges, so this area is covered by educated people.
[/quote]
But Utah is so dry and is no good for alcohol!

@OP: If you are going to get 2 associates you may as well just get a bachelors. You can get 2 associates AND a bachelors, and I can't see that hurting you other than maybe making you busy or taking you a little longer. By the time you're done with 2 associates you should have most of your bachelors done anyway, so it's almost a waste of money not to get it.

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Thanks for the replies, even though it wasn't what I was hoping to hear. Somehow I thought 2 associates would be almost the equivalent to a bachelors. I'm no programming genius and I'm starting to doubt my abilities to be anything more that a QA at this point. I'll have to think over getting a bachelors.

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[quote name='Happygamer' timestamp='1297969459' post='4775520']
Thanks for the replies, even though it wasn't what I was hoping to hear. Somehow I thought 2 associates would be almost the equivalent to a bachelors. I'm no programming genius and I'm starting to doubt my abilities to be anything more that a QA at this point. I'll have to think over getting a bachelors.
[/quote]

What do you want to do? It seems as though you might be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

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[quote name='Happygamer' timestamp='1298062929' post='4776073']
What I want is to have a Level Designer but preferably a Game Designer position within 2 years and not have to still be in school beyond that time frame.
[/quote]

I want to be married to Taylor Swift, but some things just aren't in the realm of realistic possibility.

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[quote name='Happygamer' timestamp='1298062929' post='4776073']
1. What I want is to have a Level Designer but preferably a Game Designer position
2. within 2 years
3. and not have to still be in school beyond that time frame.
[/quote]
1. Then read FAQs 3 and 69 (click FAQs link above). You need a full B.A.
2. No. You need a full B.A., then experience in the industry. Read the FAQs.
3. You lost me there. Do the math. From now until you get your B.A. will be how long? Then add at least 2 years of game industry experience onto that.

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[quote][color="#1C2837"][size="2"]a Game Designer position within 2 years[/quote][/size][/color]
[color="#1C2837"] [/color]Game Designer is not an entry level position.

Unlike programmers and artists, there is no direct path to that job. You can come from any discipline such as programming, art, writing, audio, production, or QA. You generally need a bachelors degree in something, and you need to know your way around the industry, be able to critically compare a wide range of games, and be able to creatively design your game.

We have game designers that have come through various paths. One has a BA in English and was originally brought on as a writer. (I imagine that going through the writer route is one of the shortest paths to being a designer.) One has a BS is astronomy and spent years as a QA lead. Others were moved from art, programming, or other areas. In every case they were in the game industry for several years before becoming designers.

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I'm a bit surprised no one's mentioned the benefits of a BA across multiple industries.

While an Associate's Degree for Game Development [i]might [/i]help you get into the industry, it's going to leave you in a hole for a long-term career. Remember that you want more than just a [i]job[/i] in the industry - you want a career. The promotions and raises are going to go to the guys that are the most qualified, and for programmers, a lot of those qualifications revolve around technical expertise. Some of that expertise you can pick up on the job, but a lot of it you will get in school. The other hole of an associate's degree is that it's difficult to apply to different industries. You're putting all your eggs in a very flimsy basket. If you can't get into gaming, you won't have any other potential career paths available to you.

I also disagree with the premise that "game designer" is not an entry level position. Right now, no one's stopping you from designing games. Go pick up Valve's Hammer (it's free), or if you're looking for something more intense, pick up Maya (not free). Make a fully functional level for a popular game. Enter it in contests and start winning some. But you have to actually [b]make[/b] something and show that you're capable of the position. To give a few examples: Team Fortress 2 holds map contests every quarter or so. The maps are incredibly well done and polished, consuming over 1,000 hours in just a few months to a single map. Blizzard Entertainment's game designers had a thing about "block outs" in Maya at one of the BlizzCons.

Just remember that there is no such job as a "designer" that sits around all day think of game ideas or modifications and telling other people to do them. Video games are a serious industry that only pay you to do things that are "hard" to do. Anyone can come up with game ideas - [b]designers have valuable skills beyond creativity[/b]. Get those skills.

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[quote name='frob' timestamp='1298081204' post='4776176']
Game Designer is not an entry level position.
[/quote]
I see this frequently stated on the forums, but it isn't really true. MAEnthoven makes some some valid points about anyone being able to design games, but that doesn't really match up with necessarily being a professional (aka getting paid) Game Designer. A great number of companies don'y have entry level Game Designer positions, but there are a good number who do. I got a start in my professional career three and a half years ago as a Game Designer. Lead Designer certainly isn't an entry level position, but there are quite a few companies out there that have 'Junior", 'Assistant', and 'Associate' Game Designer positions. You just have to look for them [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/wink.gif[/img]

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