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Going to school for game design, worth it?

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Basically, im planning on going to the art institute for game design, is it worth it? From what I hear its a good school and they offer great opportunities, but idk anyone personally whos been there. I dont want to shell out a bunch of money if its a waste if time basically.

On a side note, assuming I go to school for game design, what kinds of things do they teach? I want to start studying now so im not going in blind. Since it will take a few years to save up, might as well study in that time.
I heard advanced algebra is needed, as well as history, game and computer logic, as well as 1 or 2 programming languages. So im thinking of buying books in these topics and studying until I can go.
thoughts?

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I had a dream of going to a specialized school for Game Art. Turned out to be a waste of money. I would have been better off going to a local college. Good luck, but these specialized colleges aren't the magical place they build themselves up to be. Just make sure you can afford it and are going for the right reasons.

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Honestly, as far as "Game Design" is concerned, the BEST way of "teaching" it would be to simply sit a student down and tell them that the remainder of their semester will be spent playing video games and then categorically breaking down their elements for analysis. Deciphering what components help the sense of "fun" develop, what components interfere with it, and HOW those changes are occurring. The best way to learn how to design games is to play good games (to see what makes them good) and bad games (to see what it is they fail at). And there is no reason you should pay to have a professor tell you all of that, so there really isn't a very good reason for throwing thousands of dollars in the drain. Even better, just spend .1% of what WOULD HAVE been your budget on new video games to try out. You probably shouldn't even be spending -that- much since there are plenty of a variety of good and bad old/indie games that can be acquired either for free or on a child's allowance. Analyze the classics if you haven't already. Snake, Pac-Man, Asteroid, etc. For an example on how to do video game breakdowns effectively, go watch some of YouTube channel Extra Credits' Design videos (I think they are part of the "Design Club" series).

 

If you want to learn a programming language, I can understand needing to have a sort of "course" so-to-speak. You will be able to learn it faster and more cheaply if you teach yourself, but I know that I myself have problems doing that. My advice (and what has seemed to help me) is to restrict yourself to a few topics of the programming language at a time, and give yourself complicated assignments that employ whatever topic you are focusing on for that period of time. You could make yourself learn a new topic every day, every 3 days, whatever. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to really sink the concept into your long-term memory. All too often people (myself included) just splurge through an entire textbook or online tutorial series and then find that they have no actual practical experience (and therefore don't know what to do).

 

As for which programming languages to learn, general suggestions are C++, C#, and (if you're interested in web development) HTML/CSS/JavaScript (in that order). Honestly, C++ is more or less the latin for most modern day languages, so if you know how it works, you'll be able to catch on to how -most- other object-oriented (OO) languages operate.

 

To get started making video games as quickly as possible, I suggest downloading the free edition of GameMakerStudio and just throwing something excruciatingly simple together (and I do mean "excruciatingly". You will be tempted to do a lot of complicated stuff. Don't). Focus first on getting a sprite displayed, attached to an object, and moving around the screen. Even better, learn different ways of moving it around the screen. Learn the intricate details of how things work as much as you can, using the same no-rush, give-yourself-time-to-learn methodology I mentioned 2 paragraphs ago (though you can stand to shorten the period before broaching a new topic in that case). It'll seriously help. The important thing is just to make sure that you revisit, and are able to re-type from memory, the code that accomplishes the task you are aiming for.

If you are simply interested in game design and are antsy about learning development / coding, just be aware that code knowledge helps tremendously AS a designer because you develop a better sense of what technical limitations you have to work within. Additionally, you can much more easily communicate to the developers (who bring your ideas into reality) how you envisioned your ideas taking shape. They can better understand what you are aiming for.

 

If you really plan on going to college (which can be a good idea really), then the best types of classes (if NOT doing a CompSci major for DEVELOPMENT) would be ones that hone your critical thinking skills (for purposes of game breakdowns and reverse engineering your own effective designs from that process), examples being rhetoric, philosophy, etc. Additionally, allowing your mind to be filled with diverse topics, especially the arts, is an advantage. Music, art, literature, history, architecture. Even just a loose knowledge about such things will greatly enhance your ability to determine what aesthetic elements will positively affect the design of your game environment and interface.

Edited by facehead1992

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1. Basically, im planning on going to the art institute for game design,
2. is it worth it?
From what I hear its a good school and they offer great opportunities, but idk anyone personally whos been there. I dont want to shell out a bunch of money if its a waste if time basically.
3. On a side note, assuming I go to school for game design, what kinds of things do they teach?
4. I want to start studying now so im not going in blind. Since it will take a few years to save up, might as well study in that time.
5. I heard advanced algebra is needed,
6. as well as history, game and computer logic, as well as 1 or 2 programming languages. So im thinking of buying books in these topics and studying until I can go.
thoughts?


1. Why? Why do you want to study game design at an art school, rather than get a 4-year bachelors degree at, say, a state college or something (assuming you're American, which you might not be)? You should probably check out this forum's FAQs (I moved your post to the Game Industry Job Advice board, since you weren't asking about designing a game).
2. Worth is subjective. Getting an education is not a waste of time. But there may be less costly options that will get you where you want to go. You should check out this forum's FAQs.
3. It depends on the school. At an art school's game design program, they'd focus on art. At some other game schools, they'd focus on programming. Not all schools' "game design" programs are really about game design. You should read this forum's FAQs.
4. Sure. Why not start by making some games in Game Maker or RPG Maker, and brushing up on your writing skills - do not skip any of your English or Writing classes. And read books on game design, and sketch some art, and write some game designs, and learn some programming...
5. You did? Where? That might be needed for programming, but it's not essential for game design.
6. There's a lot more you need to study if you want to be a game designer. Read this forum's FAQs.

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Do not go to AI, waste of money and a terrible school that's only interest is making money.

http://petapixel.com/2011/09/02/us-gov-sues-the-art-institutes-for-11-billion-fraud/

They touted a 100% hiring rate when I enrolled and when I graduated they counted one of my classmates as getting a job in the industry because he got hired at best buy in the geek squad and its a "technical" position. They bullied him into signing a document saying they got him a job so they can buff their numbers.

The teachers are mostly useless and unprofessional, leaving classes early or coming in late, most of them don't care at all about their students. The faculty managing the teachers is lack, it took us 4 months to get a teacher fired who was literally insane, should of been on meds and never hired.

In my graduating class there were 45 designers, that I know of only 6 of hem have jobs at the moment.

Just go to a regular "accredited" school if you want to do game design, as game design doesn't really have a set entry requirement if you at all techie maybe looking into getting a computer science degree.

 

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Granted this school looks very bad, you should not go to anything art/audio related for a degree and expect it to land you a job. The degree will basically be a bonus, what really matters is your portfolio.

 

I guess you could count Game Design as an art too.

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What I've gathered through researching this very topic  and my own experience (which isn't much) is that there are two types of careers in the world.

 

1. The ones that require fancy diplomas. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers fall into this category.

2. And the ones that are based on experience and this magical thing called a portfolio. Generally, anything art and design related falls under this category.

 

Think of it this way. If you want to be a doctor, the people hiring you are going to be looking for credibility in the form of high degrees. If you want to be a game developer, do you think customers are going to think "Hey, this guy has a diploma, let's buy the game!"? The answer is obviously no. They're going to be looking at your work, and your work alone. They want to see that you're good.

 

Now back to that magical thing called a portfolio. Portfolios are a compilation of any piece of work you might have done. Concept art, a demo, game design plans, character design, even a whole game itself. Now, if you're busy with twenty page university essays and stacks of homework from classes that really don't contribute much to your life in the long run, do you think you'll have time to build a portfolio? 

 

Now, if you really do want to go to college just to go to college, I would suggest online college. I am personally applying for one to attend next school year after having recently switched to online public school which has freed up loads of time to focus on my game development career. Here's a link of it that college that gives the mouth-watering course description topics that will be taught. I am personally bothering with college only because I think it will aid me in my knowledge of game design even though there's one very important thing to remember:

 

Do not do just the assignments given to you.

 

In your free time, you need to be working on your personal game, expanding your knowledge through online resources not provided by your class, and most of all building your portfolio.

 

So is it worth it?

If you don't depend on it to make you a successful game dev.

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Honestly, as far as "Game Design" is concerned, the BEST way of "teaching" it would be to simply sit a student down and tell them that the remainder of their semester will be spent playing video games and then categorically breaking down their elements for analysis. Deciphering what components help the sense of "fun" develop, what components interfere with it, and HOW those changes are occurring. The best way to learn how to design games is to play good games (to see what makes them good) and bad games (to see what it is they fail at). And there is no reason you should pay to have a professor tell you all of that, so there really isn't a very good reason for throwing thousands of dollars in the drain. Even better, just spend .1% of what WOULD HAVE been your budget on new video games to try out. You probably shouldn't even be spending -that- much since there are plenty of a variety of good and bad old/indie games that can be acquired either for free or on a child's allowance. Analyze the classics if you haven't already. Snake, Pac-Man, Asteroid, etc. For an example on how to do video game breakdowns effectively, go watch some of YouTube channel Extra Credits' Design videos (I think they are part of the "Design Club" series).

 

If you want to learn a programming language, I can understand needing to have a sort of "course" so-to-speak. You will be able to learn it faster and more cheaply if you teach yourself, but I know that I myself have problems doing that. My advice (and what has seemed to help me) is to restrict yourself to a few topics of the programming language at a time, and give yourself complicated assignments that employ whatever topic you are focusing on for that period of time. You could make yourself learn a new topic every day, every 3 days, whatever. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to really sink the concept into your long-term memory. All too often people (myself included) just splurge through an entire textbook or online tutorial series and then find that they have no actual practical experience (and therefore don't know what to do).

 

As for which programming languages to learn, general suggestions are C++, C#, and (if you're interested in web development) HTML/CSS/JavaScript (in that order). Honestly, C++ is more or less the latin for most modern day languages, so if you know how it works, you'll be able to catch on to how -most- other object-oriented (OO) languages operate.

 

To get started making video games as quickly as possible, I suggest downloading the free edition of GameMakerStudio and just throwing something excruciatingly simple together (and I do mean "excruciatingly". You will be tempted to do a lot of complicated stuff. Don't). Focus first on getting a sprite displayed, attached to an object, and moving around the screen. Even better, learn different ways of moving it around the screen. Learn the intricate details of how things work as much as you can, using the same no-rush, give-yourself-time-to-learn methodology I mentioned 2 paragraphs ago (though you can stand to shorten the period before broaching a new topic in that case). It'll seriously help. The important thing is just to make sure that you revisit, and are able to re-type from memory, the code that accomplishes the task you are aiming for.

If you are simply interested in game design and are antsy about learning development / coding, just be aware that code knowledge helps tremendously AS a designer because you develop a better sense of what technical limitations you have to work within. Additionally, you can much more easily communicate to the developers (who bring your ideas into reality) how you envisioned your ideas taking shape. They can better understand what you are aiming for.

 

If you really plan on going to college (which can be a good idea really), then the best types of classes (if NOT doing a CompSci major for DEVELOPMENT) would be ones that hone your critical thinking skills (for purposes of game breakdowns and reverse engineering your own effective designs from that process), examples being rhetoric, philosophy, etc. Additionally, allowing your mind to be filled with diverse topics, especially the arts, is an advantage. Music, art, literature, history, architecture. Even just a loose knowledge about such things will greatly enhance your ability to determine what aesthetic elements will positively affect the design of your game environment and interface.

Basically I just want to do as much of everything as I possibly can, I like to be as indie as possible lol. The school thing was more for opportunities than anything but if AI is really as bad as Derek said then nvm. I'm just trying to figure out everythin I'll need to study so that I can become a game designer or developer or whatever it's even called XD

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Basically I just want to do as much of everything as I possibly can, I like to be as indie as possible lol. The school thing was more for opportunities than anything but if AI is really as bad as Derek said then nvm. I'm just trying to figure out everythin I'll need to study so that I can become a game designer or developer or whatever it's even called XD


being awesome at what you do gets you opportunities, school won't do that for you. best thing you can do instead of spending 150k on school, is use that money for tutorials and software and study on your own.

Tom Sloper gave you excellent advice.

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Basically I just want to do as much of everything as I possibly can, I like to be as indie as possible lol. The school thing was more for opportunities than anything but if AI is really as bad as Derek said then nvm. I'm just trying to figure out everythin I'll need to study so that I can become a game designer or developer or whatever it's even called XD


being awesome at what you do gets you opportunities, school won't do that for you. best thing you can do instead of spending 150k on school, is use that money for tutorials and software and study on your own.

Tom Sloper gave you excellent advice.

 

well thats sorta becoming the plan, I just need to figure out everything I need to study

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Well, many people have already proven they can develop successful games without an education like that. However, it all depends on what kind of person you are. Are you someone who needs structure or needs motivation from others? Then a game design education could be an option because it would provide you that structure. Furthermore, you'll have interesting like-minded people to talk with. However, in my opinion 99% of what is taught in those classes can be learned from online tutorials and online community interactions as well. If you learn best by being your own teacher then you might not need such an education

Hope it helps!

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I live in France and most education is free (beside paying for your rent) so it's probably an easier choice for me but I think you should get a degree even if it's not a game design one (do computer programming if you like it) and work on game design on the side.

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Basically, im planning on going to the art institute for game design, is it worth it? From what I hear its a good school and they offer great opportunities, but idk anyone personally whos been there. I dont want to shell out a bunch of money if its a waste if time basically.

On a side note, assuming I go to school for game design, what kinds of things do they teach? I want to start studying now so im not going in blind. Since it will take a few years to save up, might as well study in that time.
I heard advanced algebra is needed, as well as history, game and computer logic, as well as 1 or 2 programming languages. So im thinking of buying books in these topics and studying until I can go.
thoughts?

 

I'll assume that by "is it worth it" you mean, do I need this to find a job in the industry.

The short answer is no, you don't. And if we stick to your current hopes and dreams, that's pretty much the end of the line.

 

But if, like me, you find much later that, though you're good at your job, and have learned a lot through practice, there are still times where you wish you had some form of theory to back it up, or to help you face new challenges you are less experienced with, you might look back and ask yourself "why didn't I?".

 

I don't know about that specific school/program, but here are several things you might want to research for yourself:

 

- More than algebra, everything math related. It's never superfluous. Consider that the more you know, the more valuable you can be to a development team, even if it is out of your immediate zone of responsibilities.

 

- Not sure how History correlates to this, but I've seen my fair share of game designers actually come from this sort of background (heck, even I used to study History in University). I think the primary advantage of doing a lot of studies down that alley is the critical mindset and work ethic that comes along with it. It translates perfectly to nearly any discipline.

 

- I'd probably start with C# and Unity. They're a very easy way to start learning fast and produce results (which will be good for your ego and a definite immediate positive feedback if you intend to learn it on your own). There are amazing FREE tutorials for C# and Unity out there, so save that money and don't spend it on books.

 

- Play games.

 

- Make games.

 

- Save up money.

 

- Apply to a school.

 

- Continue making games.

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In my view, no, it's not worth it.  Just take contract jobs and work on building a good portfolio.  Start working for free, then for cheap, then eventually you'll be good enough to apply to a studio if that's where you want to go.

 

Getting hired is all about showing what you can do, not a diploma.

 

Now, as others mentioned, if you lack motivation and can't seem to push yourself to do tutorials and teach yourself, then going to school for it may be a good way to provide the structure you need to improve.  But that's only if you have the money, or you can find a course that offers a really good value.  There are intangibles that can be worth it to some people.  But if you're struggling with cash and it's an expensive program, and particularly if you're self motivated anyway, staying clear of those programs would be my advice.

 

I wouldn't take seriously university claims about getting students hired in the industry.

That said, if I'm looking for interns in a pinch, the first place I call (after not getting a good response to job postings) is these schools, because they usually have students looking for jobs at the end of each semester.  But it's nothing you couldn't find on your own by keeping a sharp eye on the classifieds here.  Putting in the time, you can save money.

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