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JamesHoward

Value of a master's degree?

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I've been reading the FAQs over at sloperama.com about how to achieve a career in game design. One of the points the writer makes repeatedly is that game design is not an entry-level career, and that you don't get a design position directly after getting your degree. From what I can tell, though, that FAQ was written about 6 years ago, before master's programs in game design at major universities existed. With institutions like NYU's Tisch School of the Arts offering MFAs in Interactive Telecommunications and University of Southern California offering MFAs in Game Design, I wonder if some of the common wisdom may have changed. So, what value do developers place on these master's degrees? If I got an MFA from USC, would that position me to get directly into design right out of the gate? Or is getting a traditional bachelor's degree and working your way up the ladder still the preferred route?

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You need to read more of the FAQs. No degree will "get you directly into the job right out of the gate".

Think carefully.

How many writers does a game need? One? Two? Zero, if the designers can write reasonably well? Then consider that those few writers can be spread across multiple projects at a studio. Job openings for writers in the game industry are extremely rare. There are probably around one hundred or so total dedicated game writers across the entire industry.

Writers are generally designers first and foremost. Their job title and main duties will be designing. It is rather rare to have a dedicated writer with a job title reflecting that. Both positions are hired from within, since anyone can come up with ideas but it generally takes a veteran to navigate the road from idea to finished product.

If you want a masters degree for your own personal reasons then go for it. Do not do it because you think some future employer demands that and it will get you in the industry.

Your odds of being a game industry writer are much greater if you went into reporting, working for a trade journal or web site. They hire many game writers.

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In the game industry, people are infinitely more concerned with what you can do than what piece of paper you paid a lot of money for (and this is coming from someone that has one of those expensive pieces of paper). You need to be able to show that you can do whatever the job you're applying for will require of you.

Is the guidance and structure that the master's program provides going to enhance your skills/abilities more than spending the same amount of time working on your own? If so, is that amount of enhancement worth the cost?

If you can answer yes to both, then great! Go for the degree. Just don't go for it thinking that anyone in the game industry will care about your having it or not.

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Rob,
The problem (that a raw grad won't be hired as a "game designer" right out of college) still exists. Even after six years.
That applies not only to bachelor degrees but also masters degrees.
The matter of masters degrees has also been further addressed by that same author, in a column on IGDA.org: http://www.igda.org/games-game-june-2011

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I don't know why so many people prefer to do a master degree. I mean for jobs like this, its all based on talent. If you know how to make game, don't waste your time doing a degree. Its only gonna make matters worse. Then if you want to suddenly do PHD? Just motivate them to hire you by using whatever creativity you have. Sheesh

I hate this B.sc and I want to do BA but I can't. The degree is useless because It only provides jobs around my country and I hate my country. I want to make games for a wider audience. I can't believe I have to spend another two years just to get a powerful degree.

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I don't know why so many people prefer to do a master degree. I mean for jobs like this, its all based on talent. If you know how to make game, don't waste your time doing a degree. Its only gonna make matters worse. Then if you want to suddenly do PHD? Just motivate them to hire you by using whatever creativity you have. Sheesh

I hate this B.sc and I want to do BA but I can't. The degree is useless because It only provides jobs around my country and I hate my country. I want to make games for a wider audience. I can't believe I have to spend another two years just to get a powerful degree.


Many people enjoy school. It doesn't look like you are one of them.

Earning a master's degree allows a person to cover topics in depth. It can (if the student worked at it) mean the person has a much deeper understanding of the theory and therefore can provide better insights. It also allows the person to specialize in what they enjoy.

Getting a bachelor's degree in this industry is a basic qualification. Having a master's degree will help but still be a relatively small thing when first breaking in (unless you specialized in something the studio really needs, like networking). Over the course of your entire career it can be a very valuable asset. It will help when negotiating salary, it will help when looking for new jobs. As you become more senior it can help with promotions and lateral job transitions.

You should not go for a master's degree if you don't want it. However, if you do want it, then go for it.

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[quote name='Cap'n VG' timestamp='1318951137' post='4873942']
I don't know why so many people prefer to do a master degree. I mean for jobs like this, its all based on talent. If you know how to make game, don't waste your time doing a degree. Its only gonna make matters worse. Then if you want to suddenly do PHD? Just motivate them to hire you by using whatever creativity you have. Sheesh

I hate this B.sc and I want to do BA but I can't. The degree is useless because It only provides jobs around my country and I hate my country. I want to make games for a wider audience. I can't believe I have to spend another two years just to get a powerful degree.


Many people enjoy school. It doesn't look like you are one of them.
[/quote]

[/quote]

Really? You mean school as in grade school or high school?

Either way I won't agree with it. If anyone was interested in school, then they would get high grades which irritates me often. Cause every school has a student who holds the high scores. What is so fun in learning the basics? It is only the basics that determine a person what he would want to be.

Still like you said even after a master's degree, you still won't get a career as a game designer. But that makes me wonder why bother doing a degree even after knowing that you still won't get game career.

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Really? You mean school as in grade school or high school?

Either way I won't agree with it. If anyone was interested in school, then they would get high grades which irritates me often. Cause every school has a student who holds the high scores. What is so fun in learning the basics? It is only the basics that determine a person what he would want to be.

Still like you said even after a master's degree, you still won't get a career as a game designer. But that makes me wonder why bother doing a degree even after knowing that you still won't get game career.


No, not an interest in grade school. The thread is a discussion of bachelors degrees and masters degrees.

Your irritation toward other students or their grades is irrelevant.

Most people don't want an advanced degree. That is not their path. And that is just fine.



Having a specific degree will obviously not guarantee you a specific job.

However...

Some people want an advanced degree. That is a step in following their passion. They should follow their passions.

Having an advanced degree CAN jumpstart your career by giving you specialized knowledge in your field. It also can open career paths that would otherwise be closed, and can help dramatically improve your knowledge and skills far beyond your peers without the degree.

Having an advanced degree WILL improve both your employability and the quality of your entire career, no matter what profession you choose.

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Apologies for my previous post.

But still instead of doing that, people can just make games on game maker and get a career out of it. I'm almost finished with my arcade game now and I can't wait to make another new one. :)

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I think educational requirements is another feature that the industry failed.

You don't need a degree to write games.

You don't need a degree to draw game art.

You don't need a degree to program software.

if you can't teach yourself, then what can you do? There comes a point in time when you can say for yourself that you are what you are.
People did not believe in me, but I think its because they fail in tasks I claim to have completed.


So why do so many industries trust less educated people ... I remember reading that the ex-prime minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, did not finish his degree in Law (Oxford or Cambridge).
There are many successful people who did not complete education, why should it be the same for games?
Its not like structural engineering, brain surgery or aircraft design - the only type of career that *should* require a proven educational level.


So for employers who are critical of applicants ...
1) if you don't trust person A (who has a degree) without a degree then a) consider that you are racist.
2) if you trust person B (who does not have a degree) if they had a degree but not otherwise then consider that you have your wires crossed.
3) Ask yourself if you trust yourself in the situations then realize that you assume your own superiority (they cannot believe others can do what they cannot).

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