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ItamarReiner

Game Design Advanced Degrees in South Korea

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Trying to make an informed decision on whether pursuing a Master's degree in South Korea would yield a good return on the investment is proving to be somewhat challenging. If anyone has good information, I'd love to hear it.

 

Searching online I found that schools in South Korea do offer such degrees, no real surprise there.

I have also found some promising info on scholarships, especially the one where you get a full ride.

 

One of the biggest questions I have is how these programs rank. Which has close ties with the industry, highly rated professors, best facilities, etc.?

I hear the competition is fierce, I graduated Cum Laude from Columbus College of Art & Design, with a GPA of about 3.4 IIRC, is that good enough? I've read they offer only a couple of scholarships for my country (Israel) and I have no idea how many of my peers might apply (but I'm guessing no many, we mostly flock to Europe or the US.)

 

A little background information:

As mentioned, I live in Israel. I don't have any sort of foreign passport, which is a problem for an aspiring full time in house concept artist, as the industry in Israel is focused on social casino and facebook games.

I have a BFA majoring in illustration from Columbus College of Art & Design. I stayed in the US for a year after completing my degree (as allowed in my visa) in the hopes that I would find employment. When that fell through I flew to Germany to volunteer at GDC Eu before I came back home, hoping that by showing my portfolio and networking I could find a job in Europe. This past August was my 4th time volunteering at GDC Eu (+Gamescom) and it doesn't appear as though anything will change soon.

Last year I also visited Tokyo Game show with a business pass, trying to assess my chances (I'd need to learn Japanese) before heading to Seoul for the next two months to try my luck there.

I gave Korean game studios surprise visits. Sometimes I was politely kicked out, sometimes I couldn't pass the language barrier but sometimes I was invited in for a job interview, and I learned that I would need to learn the language to fit in, as they don't have as many international workers as an American or European studio might.

With mounting pressure from my parents (I still live with them, I'm ashamed to say) to change careers and start earning a living, I'm thinking outside the box in an attempt to keep my dream alive.

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You've already got a BFA. You've got plenty of training and credentials.

If you cannot find a job in the game industry, you can look for jobs outside it that are similar. Television, marketing, advertising, newspapers, magazines, comics, there is creative artwork EVERYWHERE.

Once you've got a job doing something, it is easier to make a transition to another job. Your parents won't be pestering you with "go get a job", because you will have a job. You can spend all the time you need applying to other companies nearby. And if there are no other companies and you still want the job, bite the bullet and move to where the companies are.

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Hamsta, why do you want to work in S. Korea or Japan if you don't speak Korean or Japanese? Seems to me Europe is still a better bet for you (I understand not wanting to work on casino games). Edited by Tom Sloper

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@frob: moving to where the companies are isn't "biting the bullet," it's the goal.

I think a work visa is my best bet in my current situation, and for that I need a company to sponsor me, and for that I would need to be more attractive than anyone local who would not require the fees and time it takes to sponsor... and how many of those people have a BFA and a portfolio like me?

Speaking of portfolios, mine is full of concept art and illustrations, with a few 3D pieces. Not exactly the thing that shows a graphic design studio that I can do the work. I did have a trail run at an archviz studio, and would try that again if I saw an opening, but the typical response is that I need to refine my work.

 

@Tom: I'd like to learn a new language, and I've enjoyed my time in these countries.

You may be right about Europe, a conference once a year may not be enough and I ought to try living in one the game development hubs on the continent like I did in the US and S. Korea.

 

Need to find another temp job so I can afford staying there for a couple of months without an income. :/

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@frob: moving to where the companies are isn't "biting the bullet," it's the goal.
I think a work visa is my best bet in my current situation, and for that I need a company to sponsor me, and for that I would need to be more attractive than anyone local who would not require the fees and time it takes to sponsor... and how many of those people have a BFA and a portfolio like me?
Speaking of portfolios, mine is full of concept art and illustrations, with a few 3D pieces. Not exactly the thing that shows a graphic design studio that I can do the work. I did have a trail run at an archviz studio, and would try that again if I saw an opening, but the typical response is that I need to refine my work.
 
Need to find another temp job so I can afford staying there for a couple of months without an income. :/

Again, finding a job in another entertainment industry can boost your career. While it isn't a job title "game concept artist", it will still give you real-world experience which is quite valuable. Those pieces will benefit your portfolio.

About half of the concept artists I've worked with have shared stories of other jobs, ranging from marketing and advertising to logos, and even clothing pattern designs.

Getting a job in a related field to the one you have your heart set on can be a great thing for your career. It gives you paid work experience and you get to experience other work environments and cultures.

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Last year I also visited Tokyo Game show with a business pass, trying to assess my chances (I'd need to learn Japanese)

Why not just get a job in Japan where you don’t need to know Japanese?
I didn’t know Japanese when I joined my first company here, and I have never used Japanese in any of the 4 companies for which I have worked while here, including tri-Ace and Square Enix.

tri-Ace’s recruitment page (http://www.tri-ace.co.jp/en/recruit/category/programer.html#programer_02) literally says right there:
“Though Japanese skills are not necessary, English skills are required.”

Knowing Japanese is a Good Idea™. But there is no reason not to try your luck, as there are quite obviously plenty of studios, even small ones that hire with no prior experience, as long as you speak English.


L. Spiro

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That's actually really interesting that English is required to work for those companies. Is that a common thing in Japan for every industry? Or are they trying to attract western developers to the Japanese games industry?

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