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Computer Science v Games Software Development (Uni courses)

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I'm a current A-level student and hobby game developer and am looking into a future in game's development. I'm am looking at potential uni courses and two have caught my attention, these being; Computer Science and Games Software Development. Both courses cover largely the same content and have the same entry requirements, however, the later is, as its name suggest more targeted towards game dev. So, I was wondering which course would be seen as more appealing to an employer? 

 

 

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It depends on the employer. But I reject the notion that you should let some hypothetical future employer's preference decide what you ought to major in. It's YOUR life, and YOU should be the sole person who decides what you major in. A better way for you to decide this is to make a decision grid. Hypothetical future employer preference can be one factor in your decision grid - and not even the highest-weighted factor. Decide between those two majors by considering cost, YOUR preference, and other factors. Read these:
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m70.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson25.htm Edited by Tom Sloper

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Most people here will tell you go for CS. It makes you a well-rounded programmer. And if you decide that you don't want a job games programming, then you are not pigeon-holed into that area and can find employment much easier in other fields.

 

But there's nothing wrong with double majoring or majoring in one and minoring in another. At least for the 1st year, there's gonna be major overlap between the two majors.

Edited by Alpheus

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I'm in the same boat as you (although I have just finished a first degree) and was worrying a lot about this question too. I looked at a lot of articles online and ended up calling quite a few (really big) games companies to ask them. Some preferred CS degrees but most said it's about the programming (C++) skills that you show you have through your portfolio. Some said it doesn't matter if you even have a degree as long as you can demonstrate good skills.

 

So just choose the course that you think will teach you how to program in C++ the best.

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I'm in the same boat as you (although I have just finished a first degree) and was worrying a lot about this question too. I looked at a lot of articles online and ended up calling quite a few (really big) games companies to ask them. Some preferred CS degrees but most said it's about the programming (C++) skills that you show you have through your portfolio. Some said it doesn't matter if you even have a degree as long as you can demonstrate good skills.

 

So just choose the course that you think will teach you how to program in C++ the best.

 

Just looked at the content of both courses and it looks like the computer science course doesn't cover any C++ where as the Games Software dev course covers it in multiple units. Thanks for the help :) 

 

Also, as someone who has completed your first degree, did you have prior experience with C++ before starting Uni? I currently program in C#, but would It be worth starting to learn C++ before starting uni? 

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Doesn't your school/college teach C++ as a separate course?

I don't believe so. Its all grouped into large 3-4 year courses, such as CS and Game software Dev, and in those you do multiple units, some of which will focus on specific areas, such as C++. 

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I majored in Game Software Development and I am currently writing server side software. I actually found it harder to get into game development interviews over software interviews. Now this is my opinion and having written software and games, but keep in mind I haven't taken a standard CS degree so I could be wrong. I feel like I learned more advanced fundamentals doing games. I talk to people who took a CS degree (friends alike) and have no idea how to get started making games. I however don't need to ask them how to make software or get started. Also since my degree focused on C++ picking up other languages after the fact was rather easy. I actually was hired in to my first job because I knew C/C++ even though the job wanted another language. The idea was well, if you know C/C++ you shouldn't have any problem transitioning to the language we use and he was right.

 

I am sure this could be a different experience from one to another, but that was mine and take what you will with it, this is my one-sided perspective.

 

Keeping in mine I took other courses like calculus, assembly programming, algorithms courses, etc... I would say it was a very well rounded degree with only like 5 - 10 game courses. So I called my degree a gimmick because it was mostly programming and learning the core concepts around it and the science around computers, compilers, etc...

 

Hope that helps you, happy educating!

Edited by wicked250

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I have a Computer Games Programming degree but, I no longer work in the games industry.  I work in finance software development and I occasionally do the odd mobile game on a contract basis.

Here is my 2 cents.  The Uni I went to had very strong ties to the games industry.  We regularly had guest lecturers from within the games industry (people such as David Doak, Peter Molyneux and David Braben).  Almost everybody on the course managed to score a job at a games company before graduation at companies like Lionhead, Travelers Tales, Frontier, Jagex, Sony, EA and Rare.  I found it very easy to get interviews and offers at games companies and in some of the cases the companies asked me if I wanted to interview rather than me even applying.

The bit that was hard was getting a job outside of the games industry when it was time to buy a house, get married, get a second car, have a yearly holiday etc...  However I did manage it in the end.

The title of your degree is the least of your concerns.  You need to examine exactly what modules each degree covers.  There are computer games degrees out there which cover almost no programming and there are Comp Sci degrees out there that are little more than humanities degrees with a couple of maths modules bolted on.


That being said.  If I were to choose nowadays I would probably choose a good Comp Sci or Software Engineering degree over a good Games Programming degree.  The reason being that games degrees have gotten so much bad press since I graduated that it may be a lot harder to get an interview than when I graduated.

Edited by Buster2000

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Yes I agree with Buster2000 on some points. Keep in mind though even if you pick a Comp. Science degree you might still end up in a college with a bad rep. At my current company I hear some chatter from colleagues and managers about certain colleges around me in Southern California and there is definitely negative outlooks on some that are legit colleges. At the same time this stems from the employee being a representative of that college. When they come in and where that college shirt proud to have attended and they fail at their job. It can look poorly but that all depends on the employee and persons involved in the hiring process.

 

Make sure the curriculum is up to par, check reviews on the college, make sure it is accredited (At the very least if you ever find yourself defending your choice you can semi-deflect with that). That all being said be financially mindful as well cause 100k loans is no joke, you get 6 months to start paying them off before you have to apply for forbearance or deferment if you you cannot afford the payments. Those kind of loans come with about a $1200 - $1500 / month cost. That is a hard pill to swallow when you are a entry level programmer making 30k - 60k a year (depending on your location, some pay better than other areas).

 

My first programming job out of college paid $12 / hr and I took it to build experience. More advice incoming... Do an internship or take a job if one is out there to take cause afterwords getting a job with no experience can often prove to be troublesome. Companies are slowly stepping up there game to make sure they are not hiring someone who doesn't know what they are doing. So you end up never getting a foot in.

 

This is just my experience as a professional in the playground of developers with a large dose of my opinion. I hope this helps you.

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