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University, self study, something else for my game dev future?

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Hey,
 
I'm currently not sure if I should go to a university or not.
 
My Story:
 
I'm 21 years old and from austria. I went to a higher technical institute when I were 14-19 years old, there I started to gain my programming knowledge.
At the age of 17~ I started with game development using Java + OpenGL(basics only) for android .
 We've learned a little C++ (with QT) in school, but since it wasn't a lot, I started to gain more knowledge about C++ on my own and now C++ is actually no problem for me anymore.
  I've worked as C Software Developer last year, but quit the job since it was too boring, and now i'm working as C++ Mobile Games Developer (since september 2014) 
  where I work on a 2D casino game(which is quite popuplar since we are on top 60), but I actually only create some mini games (gameplay) with a cross-platform engine and a existing framework. 
  Last year I also started with Unreal Engine 4 where I only use C++ and rarley their BP visual script(because i love c++), but I'm not always motivated, therefore I had a lot of breaks(months), 
  Thats why I'm not as good as I should be after 1 year. I also started to work with the cocos2d-x engine to develop Android and iOS games and also released a simple mini game (with my brother) 
  which I remember from my childhood: (our playstore link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Slei.Hazelnut (yup, the game is very simple, with programmer art ;) )
Recently, I also started with GLSL but things go slowly, because I'm also working on my own unreal engine 4 project.
 
Why I think I should maybe go to University:
 
Currently my job got kinda boring, since it's always the same and I don't learn new things anymore.
At home i'm not always motivated, therefore the learning progress at the moment is really slow.
Currently I have no knowledge about game engine architecture(just a little bit by using other engines), Advanced Graphics Programming 
and other gameplay stuff (because most of these things are already handled by Engines).
I know , I actually should focus on making games and not a engine, but maybe I might need the knowledge in the future.
It's also not too bad the have the knowledge since a lot of Game related jobs often require the knowledge, which I'm currently missing.
 
Why I don't want to go to university:
 
A lot of programming will be a repeat for me, and I'm also not really interessted in non- game related stuff.
There are some universities where you already start with game programming in the first semester, but they are far away from home.
universites near me, only provide game related stuff in the master semster, so the Bachelor title will be really boring.
 
 
Can anyone give me a advice, if i should consider to go to university or somewhere else?
Maybe other options?
 
Or should I keep learning things by my self? (maybe some advice, how I could improve my learning curve)

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The requirement for higher education is regional.
 

I'm 21 years old and from austria. ... currently not sure if I should go to a university or not.


I don't know about Austria specifically. In most regions of the world game studios are located in highly educated cities. Employers have a huge number of applicants, most of them have various degrees in addition to experience. In some regions of the world, a higher education is uncommon and individuals are mostly self-taught. 
 
A computer science degree will help with many topics.  Going through the process forces you to learn topics you wouldn't learn on your own, perhaps because you find them boring or because you didn't know you would need them. 
 

There are many strong benefits of attending.  The education is broad, you will be taught and exposed to a wide range of ideas that you otherwise probably would not. Within the field of study you will have a broad (yet shallow) introduction to every topic in the field. While most are courses and activities you choose, there are some topics you will dislike; learning to do projects you don't like is a valuable life skill. You can meet and work with people from a wide range of backgrounds, some will be easy to work with and others will be a challenge; learning to work with all types of people is a valuable life skill. You can learn about time management, pacing yourself. You can learn how to learn, and how to unlearn. You can learn how to struggle. You can learn a lot of humility, that you aren't the best in the world, that you don't know everything, and in fact you know less than you think. You can  learn to question what you thought you knew. You can learn self discipline. You can learn how to work. You can learn how to steer your life. ... And unfortunately, there are some people who don't take opportunities to learn those things.

 

Academic opportunities can open up your life to a wide range of further opportunities for the rest of your life.  If you are able to attend, it is usually a smart investment in your life.

 

 

Currently my job got kinda boring

 
That happens at all jobs.  No matter how great the job is, no matter how great the workplace is, even when you are living a job that brings you bliss, you will have times that are boring.
 

I'm also not really interessted in non- game related stuff.

 
There are very few topics that cannot be applied to games.
 
All math topics, generic software development topics, architecture topics, database topics, computing theory topics, compiler theory, security and cryptography, they can all be applied to games.
 
Outside of programming, most academic topics are directly useful, though a small number are less-frequently useful. Music and art are obviously big things in games. Economics helps with how game flows and balancing. Interior design, landscaping, and similar help with world development. Most humanities help connect with people, building connections with players. Chemistry and biology and healthcare are less directly applicable to games, but there are many educational and informational games that need the topics, and understanding them won't hurt you even if you don't use it often. And even if you don't use those in games, there are simulators for those field that are basically highly-specific technical games rather than entertaining games. 
 
There really aren't any academic subjects that have zero value. Non-games topics have a great value.
 

I don't learn new things anymore.

 
It is not your employer's job to provide continuous education for you.  That is something you need to do yourself. If your employer can help by sending you to a conference on a subject or by some other action, ask them to do it, but ultimately the responsibility to keep your skills current falls on you.
 
 

Or should I keep learning things by my self?

 
Yes. Always keep learning on your own. Even when you are a working professional you are expected to stay current, learning independently.

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So, you think it would be better to go to a university, than keep learning things on my own (ofc using books etc.) + work?

 

University (lets say full time) would take 5 years ~ + nearly no time at home because I have to study for the university.

In this time I would have 6-7 years of work experience(since i already got 2years) + more time to work on my own projects at home +study game related stuff on my own.

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I don't know you specifically, and I don't know your life situation.

 

You're 21. That is young.  If you graduate at age 25 or 26 you'll still be young, AND you will know more useful things.

 

University studies are not job training. They help you grow academically, they give valuable life experience, they are an opportunity to learn through guided study in a safe environment where mistakes are encouraged as long as you learn from them. Some people use the setting to learn a few things and become mediocre.  Others use the setting to explore amazing things and push their own personal limits.

 

 

In general my recommendation is that if your life circumstances allow it, a university program can be a wonderful boost to your career and your life.  

 

But it is not my opinion or recommendation that matters. It is your life, and you get to live it.

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Considering you live in Austria which has some of the cheapest University fees in Europe it seems like it would be a waste not to go to University.   Not to mention if you want to get anywhere in the games industry you are going to need to get that degree just so that it can open interviews for you.


So, you think it would be better to go to a university, than keep learning things on my own (ofc using books etc.) + work?

I think you may misunderstand the purpose of University.  You don't go to University to be "taught" stuff.  You go to University to "read" a subject. i.e.  University is directed self study.  If you are already teaching yourself stuff at home then University would be the same except you apply the stuff you are learning to a theme set out by your lecturer / professor.

 

 


A lot of programming will be a repeat for me, and I'm also not really interessted in non- game related stuff.

You would be surprised how well you can apply the non-games stuff to games

 

 


There are some universities where you already start with game programming in the first semester, but they are far away from home.

Then move away from home.  You are 21. Go out see the world meet new people.

 


universites near me, only provide game related stuff in the master semster, so the Bachelor title will be really boring.

See my previous comment.  Europe is a very easy place to move around and you are entitled to study in nearly any country you want.

 


University (lets say full time) would take 5 years

You only need a Bachelors degree in the games industry not a Masters so that would be 3 - 4 years

 


nearly no time at home because I have to study for the university.

What is your obsession with being at home.  You are 21 get out and see the world.  Also when I was at University I managed to study, hold down a full time job, make my own games all whilst being drunk for pretty much 8 hours every day.

 


In this time I would have 6-7 years of work experience(since i already got 2years) + more time to work on my own projects at home +study game related stuff on my own.

It doesn't really matter if HR departments just throw your application in the bin because they see you don't have a degree.

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You only need a Bachelors degree in the games industry not a Masters so that would be 3 - 4 years

 

 

Well, I actually don't care about the degree, I just want to get better and learn new things.

The closest university only provides "game related stuff"(computer graphics) in the Master semester, so I would also try to get Master degree.

 

Considering you live in Austria which has some of the cheapest University fees in Europe it seems like it would be a waste not to go to University

 

 

Yeah thats true, if I study beside work it's even cheaper(maybe no fee at all for working people).

 

It doesn't really matter if HR departments just throw your application in the bin because they see you don't have a degree.

 

 

yeah this might be a problem for international jobs :/

Here in austria, my school + 2 year work experience is equal to university degree.

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It doesn't really matter if HR departments just throw your application in the bin because they see you don't have a degree.

yeah this might be a problem for international jobs :/

I doubt it.
I have only done international jobs and I don’t have a degree.  It’s been no problem for me to get jobs just based on portfolio work (originally) and work experience (more recently).
I have worked in 3 countries and gotten interviews in 3 additional countries, and jobs (which I ultimately rejected) in 2 additional countries, giving me the indication that lacking a degree really doesn’t cause your application to be thrown to the trash immediately, at least not that often.
 
This observation is reinforced by the fact that virtually all jobs you see posted at game companies for programming indicate, “X Degree (Or Equivalent Experience) Required.”
 
Additionally, in my experience, it applies throughout the whole range of game studios, from small to large companies.
 
Furthermore, I make more than my equal-aged coworkers who got degrees because I started work before they did.  I am also next in line for advancement at my current company.
Note that not only do I not have any degrees, I also do not even have a high school diploma—I dropped out at 17.
 
 
Your mileage may vary, but your best bet is generally to get into the workplace as soon as possible, learn on-the-job, make money doing so, and work your way up.  The alternative is to spend money studying, enter the industry later in life with an entry-level salary, and basically become an older person using a smaller salary to pay off a school debt.  Your life won’t officially begin until you are 30-35 (I was completely independent, working a full-time job directly related to my career, virtually debt-free, and traveling the world at the age of 22).
 
A portfolio is the most important thing for you to make right now.
 
 
L. Spiro

Edited by L. Spiro

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