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T8TRG8TR

Computer Science vs CS w/ concentration in game development major?

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I'm attending NCSU and I'm in my second semester of freshmen year. I know I want to do Computer Science but I'm not sure if I want to do the game development concentration or not. The main difference is in the junior and senior years when you choose what CSC classes to take to fill the needed number of credits in CSC, you take gaming related classes.  You still get all the important classes for solid foundation in computer science. I'm sure having the concentration would help me at least a little for getting a job in the industry, but I'm curious as to how much?  Also, would it hurt my chances of getting a non-gaming related job if I can't get one in the industry?

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I am not in the games industry but...

 

I would say you should take a hard look at exactly what the differences will be in the classes taken in each case.  Go with the ones where you believe the content you'll be learning would be more suited to a university setting.  In my own degree program, I'm rather glad I took some of the more advanced compiler design and language design classes, not because I need that knowledge a lot, but because I probably never would have gotten it outside of university, whereas most of the game design stuff I was able to teach myself outside of school without too much trouble.

 

I could be wrong, but I don't believe the choice you make will directly effect your ability to get a job in either direction.

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I am not in the games industry but...

 

I would say you should take a hard look at exactly what the differences will be in the classes taken in each case.  Go with the ones where you believe the content you'll be learning would be more suited to a university setting.  In my own degree program, I'm rather glad I took some of the more advanced compiler design and language design classes, not because I need that knowledge a lot, but because I probably never would have gotten it outside of university, whereas most of the game design stuff I was able to teach myself outside of school without too much trouble.

 

I could be wrong, but I don't believe the choice you make will directly effect your ability to get a job in either direction.

That's a good point

 

To clear things up, all the core classes, including advanced level classes, are mostly the same either way.  The difference between the two would be in my junior senior year I would have the choice between Digital Systems Interfacing/Internet Protocols/Graph Theory/etc (normal CS) vs Intro to AI/Human-Computer Interaction/etc (game design).

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If you want safety and security, go for the non-game option.

If your heart would rather take the game courses, take the game option.

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The difference between the two would be in my junior senior year I would have the choice between Digital Systems Interfacing/Internet Protocols/Graph Theory/etc (normal CS) vs Intro to AI/Human-Computer Interaction/etc (game design).

Honestly, the CS-track courses will probably have more value in the long run. They aren't going to be able to cram a whole lot of content into an intro AI course, and the human interaction and design stuff is all easy to pick up on the side.

Graph theory and networking, however, will help you out everywhere.
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The difference between the two would be in my junior senior year I would have the choice between Digital Systems Interfacing/Internet Protocols/Graph Theory/etc (normal CS) vs Intro to AI/Human-Computer Interaction/etc (game design).

Honestly, the CS-track courses will probably have more value in the long run. They aren't going to be able to cram a whole lot of content into an intro AI course, and the human interaction and design stuff is all easy to pick up on the side.

Graph theory and networking, however, will help you out everywhere.

 

I've been looking at what classes I can take, and I could actually take several gaming-related classes with the normal CSC degree.  They were:

Game Engine Foundations

Advanced Computer Game Projects

Building Game AI

 

I think I may plan on going this route for now.  

 

Also, we have a program that allows me to get my CSC undergrad + masters in 5 years.  Would a masters be useful?

 

I know I'm planning really far ahead here but it's nice to have a good idea of what I'll be doing over the next few years.

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If you want safety and security, go for the non-game option.

If your heart would rather take the game courses, take the game option.

 

My heart is leaning towards the game courses, because I know I'd love every second of it and it would motivate me to go above and beyond on my final projects.

My brain is telling me I should go the safe route.  Would the game concentration really hurt my chances of getting a non-gaming job?

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Would the game concentration really hurt my chances of getting a non-gaming job?

 

 

Nobody can foretell the future for you.  But in general, a non-game degree is better for a non-game job.  Your plan sounds fine.

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vs Intro to AI/Human-Computer Interaction/etc (game design).

When I was at uni, "Intro to AI" wasn't applicable to games (i.e. it didn't teach you anything about how to make game AI characters/monsters/etc -- which involves path-finding, planning, state-machines, behaviour trees, etc), but was thrown into the "Comp-Sci : Games Tech" course because it sounded like it might be. It was actually a course on Prolog, etc...

HCI is a decent thing for devs to know about, but again isn't game-focused... it's about GUI efficiency, etc... That class was a breeze...

 

From that, the games major doesn't actually sound very different to a regular software engineering major.

[edit]

Game Engine Foundations
Advanced Computer Game Projects
Building Game AI

Ah, that sounds a bit more like it... Edited by Hodgman
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Also, we have a program that allows me to get my CSC undergrad + masters in 5 years.  Would a masters be useful?

That's what I did, and it seems to have worked out pretty well.

A master's makes a pretty big difference when your resume lands in a pile on an HR desk. Provide of course that you can back it up when it comes to the interview itself.
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