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Chisiki_Ryoshi

Advice regarding elective courses and minors, please.

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Hi everyone,
 
I will be starting a 4 year bachelor of computer science program this fall and I was hoping that I could get some advice about what courses I should use my elective credit hours on. I realize that what electives a person takes may seem like a frivolous question but I believe electives are a valuable part of an expensive education that should not be squandered. I will now outline my career aspirations so you can better advise me on what courses would benefit me most.
 
My best case scenario, long term goal, is to own my own small educational game publishing company. On a more short term and realistic basis, I would like to graduate university with the ability to make my own mobile app game, outsourcing music as I have no talent in that department. I like the idea of being a lone wolf developer until I gain the necessary experience to manage a small team and make more impressive video games. That being said, I am realistic enough to know that I may not be one of the lucky ones and will probably have to develope my skills at a larger studio as a small cog in a big machine.
 
I have narrowed my choice of electives down to three generalizations but I am open to fourth options that I haven't thought of. The options I have thought of are as follows.
 
  1. A minor in psychology. I think this would help me make better game design and perhaps marketing decisions. It might also look good on a resume if I had to go with plan B and apply at a large studio instead of making my own smaller games in the beginning. Psychology would also give me insight into the learning process which would aid me in making educational games.
  2. A minor in business. This would help me market my own games and in the long term it would help me manage my own publishing company, but it wouldn't help me make my games any better...well, unless I was making a business game of course.
  3. Don't minor in anything and distribute electives widely. I think this has the potential to make me a more versatile game designer and manager in general because I can pick and choose the more necessary courses from psychology, business and others. The down side is that not having a minor may put me at a disadvantage if I have to compete for a position at a large corporation that looks for impressive resumes.
 
A few things that I would like to mention to save us from some basic suggestions that while well intentioned, probably aren't for me. First, I have a slight hand tremor so while drawing classes are generally a good idea for game designers, they would probably would be wasted on me. Second, I have no musical talent. I understand that as someone who wants to be a lone wolf to start out, it could be beneficial to know how to make music for my own game. It is a skill that I don't believe I could become competent in and it would be better outsourced to someone with true talent.
 
Thank you in advance for your great advice. Please do not be offended if I ask you to explain the reason behind your answer. I don't mean any disrespect. It is only an attempt to better understand my situation.
-Ryoshi

 

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A minor in business administration would certainly help you with your own business, but it's not a strict requirement. I know a handful of small business owners who have obtained varying levels of success and only one of them has any formal business education. If you wanted to take business administration courses just to get the knowledge, you could always do this after completing your degree.

Since you want to make educational games, a minor in education might be appropriate as well. This might also help you to be selected over another candidate in some company working on educational games.


I have no musical talent. I understand that [...] it could be beneficial to know how to make music for my own game.

I can't play musical instruments, but I do have a good ear; it probably takes me longer than it would a practiced musician, but I've used various tools to make great musical loops. It might be worth investigating.

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Those two minors both sound great. Which one interests you more? 

 

Psychology definitely interests me more than business for several reasons. I believe It offers more insight into people's motivations behind playing video games and it explains the mechanisms behind learning. It also offers tools to help in everyday life. Business offers tools to help me get my games to market which are very valuable, but not as fun and engaging. On the other hand, I am weak on subjects relating to business and marketing so if I am going to fail at anything, I expect it to be that. Still, I think a well marketed bad game is more detrimental than a poorly marketed good game.

 


A minor in business administration would certainly help you with your own business, but it's not a strict requirement. I know a handful of small business owners who have obtained varying levels of success and only one of them has any formal business education. If you wanted to take business administration courses just to get the knowledge, you could always do this after completing your degree.

 

This is a very good point. Skills relating to managing other people may be worth putting on the back burner until I am closer to a position to actually manage other people. On the other hand, marketing might be something I should get under my belt early if I am going to put out my own games. Those courses could be split up under plan #3 if I were to take no minor and instead take the most immediately useful classes from both psychology and business. 

 


Since you want to make educational games, a minor in education might be appropriate as well. This might also help you to be selected over another candidate in some company working on educational games

 

That was actually my first thought as well, but sadly the school I will be attending doesn't offer an education program. The closest I could find was psychology, if I picked classes that focus on how the brain learns.

 


I can't play musical instruments, but I do have a good ear; it probably takes me longer than it would a practiced musician, but I've used various tools to make great musical loops. It might be worth investigating.

 

I wasn't aware that those tools were so user friendly to the musically uninclined. I will do my due diligence and see what my University's music program can offer in that department. Thank you for the tip.

 

 

You have both commented on the two options of minors that I have presented and I thank you for that. Would you mind if I asked what you think of the third idea to take no minor and instead split my electives widely among business, psychology and other fields that would aid in game design to become more well rounded? The down side of either minor is that in order to get enough credits, I would have to waste a few of my credit hours on classes that I can see little use for in the game design field. Is the weight of a minor behind my name worth it? And conversely, is splitting my focus among too many subjects like that a worse idea in practice than it is on paper?

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what you think of the third idea to take no minor and instead split my electives widely among business, psychology and other fields that would aid in game design to become more well rounded?

 

Take whatever classes interest you most. Take some psychology. Take some business. Take some music. Go for your INTERESTS. 

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I too vote for a business minor. If your long term goal is to run a studio you won't be spending your time in the trenches coding, you'll spend it managing the business.

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Take whatever classes interest you most. Take some psychology. Take some business. Take some music. Go for your INTERESTS. 

 

After reviewing everyone's comments, I think this is what I am going to do. Everyones comments have focused on the skills over the value of a minor certification itself and if I do manage to build a career that works around my own schedule (i,e Indie development), I could presumably go back and pick up single courses over the span of years to finish off minors in both business and psychology. That is if I find use for those certificates in my career once the ball is rolling.

 

In the event that I fail at indie development, other threads I have been reading on this form have lead me to believe that large developer companies will be more interested in my portfolio of work than a minor. That probably goes twice over for a minor in business as they would have no need for a low end programmer to have that knowledge.

 


I too vote for a business minor. If your long term goal is to run a studio you won't be spending your time in the trenches coding, you'll spend it managing the business.

 

I think your make a good point Andrewray, but the more I think about it the more I think that I need to have the skills to make a stellar game on my own before I can be in a position to manage others. Also, from what I understand of the natural progression of indie development, a person starts out very much on there own but as they start to succeed, they gain the opportunity to reinvest profits into their next game. This would be a slowly cumulative process so if I am able to succeed I should be able to get incremental practice with first outsourcing a single aspect of a game, to eventually managing a single employee and beyond. The naturally imposed slow pace of that learning process makes me more comfortable putting it on the back burner. Conversely, if the first game I put out to the public isn't up to snuff, the stink of that might stay with me.

 

All and all, having a wide variety of skills that will allow me to be a versatile developer wins out over specializing. That is convenient because either minor would involve some boring classes whose only purpose would be to fill the credit requirement.

 

Thank you all very much for your help!

 

If anyone else has any additional input I will be thrilled to hear it.

 

-Ryoshi

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I wasn't aware that those tools were so user friendly to the musically uninclined. I will do my due diligence and see what my University's music program can offer in that department. Thank you for the tip.

All of them are oriented towards musicians. That doesn't make them impossible to use for the musically uninclined - a sense of timing (such as one might acquire from gaming) is the only definite requirement. None of them are particularly comfortable to me, and probably won't be terribly comfortable for you. Many of them also carry a steep price tag, most free ones are only suitable for processing of recordings.

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