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Newcomer Question - How is the game design career outlook and are you happy?

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I've been recently very interested in learning more about the gaming industry as its always been a hobby of mine (playing, not designing). I'm sure most of you just laughed at me for saying I have no experience, which is understandable and why I'm here.

 

I'm 22 years old and I have a Bachelors in Environmental Design (Architecture) and am 1/3 of the way through my Master of Architecture program at UCLA but I'm getting tired of the state of architectural discourse. Everything seems too strict and political for something I believe should be more grounded in design. Obviously there are reasons behind that, and I don't want a debate. I'm just saying, each day that goes by I'm less sure about my career choice. I'm not looking for something easier. I'm no stranger to the overnight design charette, trust me. I just want something more fun and casual.

What's it like in the gaming design industry?

 

Is there freedom of expression in your job (or, like architecture, unless you own your own firm you're really just detailing someone elses work)? After getting a degree, are you forced into a ridiculously long, low-paying internship path?

Most importantly, are you happy with your career choice? What are the downsides of game design?

How can someone in my shoes get into the industry/courses/etc?

 

 

TLDR: How do you like game design? Tell me your experience.

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Norman,

Thank you for your response. That was all very good information and it's nice to hear a perspective from someone in the field (instead of my architecture friends). Do you think I could spend time learning the tools and software in my spare time and maybe a couple classes without actually earning a whole game dev degree, or would it not be enough? This might be an obvious question, but what I'm asking is if I were to try to start a career in game dev, would I need a specific degree/major, or is it more experience and portfolio based? Because for architecture you're pretty much screwed if you don't have a BArch or MArch.

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Do you think I could spend time learning the tools and software in my spare time and maybe a couple classes without actually earning a whole game dev degree, or would it not be enough? This might be an obvious question, but what I'm asking is if I were to try to start a career in game dev, would I need a specific degree/major, or is it more experience and portfolio based? Because for architecture you're pretty much screwed if you don't have a BArch or MArch.

 

again, it depends on whether you're going for the big studio job or the indie route.  for the big studio job, formal training appears to be becoming more of a requirement, although its not yet mandatory. at this point, if you were interviewing TODAY, your portfolio and demonstrable skills apparently still have more weight than piece of paper from a school. however, by the time you develop your skill set and portfolio (say a year or two or three from now), that may no longer be the case, and formal training may be expected / required as well by then.

 

hopefully one of the folks here who works or has worked at a big shop may chime in with more info.

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I moved this topic from For Beginners (a technical forum) to the Game Industry Job Advice forum.  Will be weighing in with some responses after I've had my breakfast.

 

Okay, had breakfast.

 


1. What's it like in the gaming design industry?

2. Is there freedom of expression in your job (or, like architecture, unless you own your own firm you're really just detailing someone elses work)?

3. After getting a degree, are you forced into a ridiculously long, low-paying internship path?

4. are you happy with your career choice?

5. What are the downsides of game design?

6. How can someone in my shoes get into the industry/courses/etc?

7. Do you think I could spend time learning the tools and software in my spare time and maybe a couple classes without actually earning a whole game dev degree,

8. or would it not be enough?

9. This might be an obvious question, but what I'm asking is if I were to try to start a career in game dev, would I need a specific degree/major,

10. or is it more experience and portfolio based?

 

 

1. I wouldn't know. I've been in the video game industry for over 30 years, and I've never worked in the gaming industry.  I hate gambling and I don't like Las Vegas.

2. It's a creative industry, but as has been said above, unless you're a lone wolf or you own your own, it's a collaborative industry. Personally, I enjoy the "puzzle" aspect, the fact that each project is a creative endeavor, even if it's not my own creation, and that each project presents its own unique problems to solve.

3. Mostly.  But rise can be rapid (that's not to say that it usually is).

4. Absolutely.

5. Read FAQ 37: http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson37.htm

6. Level design or environment design.  Read FAQ 69. 

7. Sure, anything is possible. FAQ 50.

8. Nothing is enough. FAQ 49.

9. You already have a degree, so now what you need is a portfolio.  See FAQ 41.

10. No, not exactly.  Young people with limited experience need a degree to avoid being filtered out in the resume-reading process, and then after that the portfolio kicks in.  People with game industry experience don't need a degree, and credits sort of replace what a portfolio does.  http://www.igda.org/games-game-march-2010

Edited by Tom Sloper

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