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DJ_Bioxic

My College Dilemma

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Hello and thanks for reading this.

This is my first post by the by, so I might sound like a noob (it's because I am).

 

So I have been passionate about the video game industry since middle school, and I have always made up games and all that but that was because I had a kidish-type mindset.

Nowadays I am a senior in a technical high school. My trade is Electronics Technologies. I've been doing scholarships and all that stuff since sophomore year and I have a nice and concise list of colleges I plan on applying to (most with the common application).

 

At the beginning I thought, since I aspire to be a Game Designer, that I simply take a degree in Game Design. Seems logical, right?

 

For some time I just accepted this fact until I recently saw that a degree in Computer Science (CS) might be a better alternative, with a minor in some form of Game Development (programming, art, sound or design).

 

Keep in mind I have been on multiple websites reading about this topic, however I still can't make a reasonable decision.

To understand what I am asking, let me first explain what I am aiming for:

 

I am aiming for a Game Design career. I know these jobs are not "immediate placement" nor are they "the idea-guy". To my knowledge it goes on the lines of mechanics, prototypes, bug-fixing, some creative aspects (like story and characters however this is more of a Lead Designer's job) and of course the GDD (Game Design Document). If I am missing anything, or maybe I seem ignorant in anyway please let me know.

-------------------------------

 

Anyway, so I know the answers on here cannot dictate what I actually do, but can someone please respectfully give me their opinion on whether or not I should aim for a Computer Science degree or a Game Design degree?

 

Any answers would be very much appreciated.

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Is there anything else you're interested in studying?

 

I normally would not advise a "game design" degree, because in general I think those programs aren't worth the money; generally the programs seem extremely shallow or overly topical (that is, focusing on trends).

 

 A computer science degree is a good course of action for aspiring game programmers. It's not necessarily a good idea for somebody who isn't interested in computer science (which is not "programming"). Consequently if you're looking at the degree because you think it might be "better" for your career but aren't actually interested in the actual subject matter... I would recommend against it, and instead suggest you take the game design degree program or some other course of study related to things you are actually interested in studying.

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Is there anything else you're interested in studying?

 

I normally would not advise a "game design" degree, because in general I think those programs aren't worth the money; generally the programs seem extremely shallow or overly topical (that is, focusing on trends).

 

 A computer science degree is a good course of action for aspiring game programmers. It's not necessarily a good idea for somebody who isn't interested in computer science (which is not "programming"). Consequently if you're looking at the degree because you think it might be "better" for your career but aren't actually interested in the actual subject matter... I would recommend against it, and instead suggest you take the game design degree program or some other course of study related to things you are actually interested in studying.

Thanks for your opinion.

 

I've seen that Computer Science is a good introduction to the entirety of game development due to your flexibility. There were even designers stating themselves that it would be better just to take CS.

It's not that CS doesn't interest me I just would like to eventually be in a designing position. 

If I did go in CS I would also have to be making side-projects (portfolio has to be strong) whereas in Game Design you are making your portfolio in class.

 

In general I heard CS is just overall better. It does interest me, it would be just as challenging as whatever I do with my life but I just want the best option.


Is there anything else you're interested in studying?

 

I normally would not advise a "game design" degree, because in general I think those programs aren't worth the money; generally the programs seem extremely shallow or overly topical (that is, focusing on trends).

 

 A computer science degree is a good course of action for aspiring game programmers. It's not necessarily a good idea for somebody who isn't interested in computer science (which is not "programming"). Consequently if you're looking at the degree because you think it might be "better" for your career but aren't actually interested in the actual subject matter... I would recommend against it, and instead suggest you take the game design degree program or some other course of study related to things you are actually interested in studying.

 

It is also said that with a Game Design degree you're stuck in game design, as in it's hard to transfer it around, while in CS it is easier. 

I'm not sure but these are just what people are saying.

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If I did go in CS I would also have to be making side-projects (portfolio has to be strong) whereas in Game Design you are making your portfolio in class.

 

You'll probably want to be doing this anyway, regardless of your degree program.

 

It is also said that with a Game Design degree you're stuck in game design, as in it's hard to transfer it around, while in CS it is easier. 

 

Yeah, this is a theory, and not dissimilar from an attitude I used to have myself, but I don't actually think it's that much of a concern. Sure, some place might bin your resume because you have 'the wrong degree,' but it's also possible they'll bin it because of some other arbitrary reason. Or maybe they wanted a game design degree, but you don't have one. And so on. Catering to a future hypothetical employer's whims is not a good way to spend tends of thousands of dollars and four years of your life.

 

Similarly...

 

I just want the best option

 

The only way to get the best option is to evaluate the best option in terms of the next four years of your life: what are you interested in studying, what experiences do you want to have, and what extremely general vague direction do you want to go afterwards (you seem to know this already: game design). Going to college is an expensive and time-consuming decision, so you should make it based on more criteria you control than criteria you don't.

 

What you don't control is what the industry will be like in four years or ten years or twenty years, or what your own goals and life circumstances will be then. What you can control is what you want to do now, and so long as you restrict that to options that don't immediately close-out being a game designer it's hard to go "wrong" there.

 

Ultimately getting into the industry will be more about you and the work you've done leading up to that first job application. It's less about where you went to school and what the name on your degree is. You want to have gotten the most out of whatever education you pursue, certainly, but you're more likely to get more out of an education you enjoy than one you don't.

 

If you like computer science topics, great. Computer science would be a good degree program and all things being equal I would generally recommend that over a "game design" program. But if you don't like it, don't study it and pick the game design degree.

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If I did go in CS I would also have to be making side-projects (portfolio has to be strong) whereas in Game Design you are making your portfolio in class.

 

You'll probably want to be doing this anyway, regardless of your degree program.

 

 

 

It is also said that with a Game Design degree you're stuck in game design, as in it's hard to transfer it around, while in CS it is easier. 

 

Yeah, this is a theory, and not dissimilar from an attitude I used to have myself, but I don't actually think it's that much of a concern. Sure, some place might bin your resume because you have 'the wrong degree,' but it's also possible they'll bin it because of some other arbitrary reason. Or maybe they wanted a game design degree, but you don't have one. And so on. Catering to a future hypothetical employer's whims is not a good way to spend tends of thousands of dollars and four years of your life.

 

Similarly...

 

 

 

I just want the best option

 

The only way to get the best option is to evaluate the best option in terms of the next four years of your life: what are you interested in studying, what experiences do you want to have, and what extremely general vague direction do you want to go afterwards (you seem to know this already: game design). Going to college is an expensive and time-consuming decision, so you should make it based on more criteria you control than criteria you don't.

 

What you don't control is what the industry will be like in four years or ten years or twenty years, or what your own goals and life circumstances will be then. What you can control is what you want to do now, and so long as you restrict that to options that don't immediately close-out being a game designer it's hard to go "wrong" there.

 

Ultimately getting into the industry will be more about you and the work you've done leading up to that first job application. It's less about where you went to school and what the name on your degree is. You want to have gotten the most out of whatever education you pursue, certainly, but you're more likely to get more out of an education you enjoy than one you don't.

 

If you like computer science topics, great. Computer science would be a good degree program and all things being equal I would generally recommend that over a "game design" program. But if you don't like it, don't study it and pick the game design degree.

 

 

Thanks this helped a bunch.

I think I will look for a CS minor or some type of programming minor to add. I will also look more into CS to see if it's a good fit for me.

 

As of now a Game Design program seems the best for me, despite the opinions out there.

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I'm an industry professional (developer side) and now a lot people in game design that have made a realy expensive apprenticeship (arround $15.000 - $20.000) and worry about that these days. The fact is that in this country you have the private institutes like Games Academy, SAE and whatever trolls arround these days are commercial related institutes where the quality is not what it should be. Game Designers are not only the idea guys any more but also in a position to do scripting (and therefor need to now a little about programming) or paired with artist. The problem is simple, anyone could be the "idea guy" but the idea guy could hardly be an artist or fully programmer.

I personaly do some game design too in my spare time and one of these sufficed for an already published title on steam but I didnt learned any game design nor made an apprenticeship on this topic but studied computer science related to game development.

 

Ive had a talk to someone who is project lead and he mentioned that game design is very simple today except a little bit of insider know how and financial/motivative work. You should know actual main stream games and AAA title, how the gameplay is and what may the trend goes to. As game designer you plan and assemble gameplay concepts (not stories that is the task of the story writer) write concept papers the game design documents and need to think about what a player will held playing your game and how you could monetize it for example by DLCs (what have been AddOns in the past) and thats it. Balancing may be task of a game designer and QA depends on the size of the company you are working at. The bitter turth is that companies are seeking for persons with know-how and either you have already shipped a well performing title or it is hard work to go for an adequate position.

 

I would always recommend to go for anything else primary. This may be the game programmer, sound specialist or graphical artist or project manager (producer). These are the jobs that companies in games business are looking for and more important want to pay for here. An HR recruiter at Ubisoft told me that most game designers working there have made the way over QA position.

 

At the end matters what make you happy!

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Hey DJ
so I saw alot recommend you about CS
I'm too going to say that's the right step (for my opinion) because the skills you get during those studies are great not just for video game design
however do concider that it's a lot and i mean A LOT!!! of mathematics, and not the fun one 
I'm also studying CS, and I have to be honest so fat I failed 4 courses and it's not very easy however it's doable

as far as I know, if money is not the Issue i'de recommend you to go to VFS (vancouver film school) website and check it out
it's some major level of video game design with a lot of helpful courses that can help as well and not just diploma

seriously if I could I'de go there for sure

hope I helped :)

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I'm an industry professional (developer side) and now a lot people in game design that have made a realy expensive apprenticeship (arround $15.000 - $20.000) and worry about that these days. The fact is that in this country you have the private institutes like Games Academy, SAE and whatever trolls arround these days are commercial related institutes where the quality is not what it should be. Game Designers are not only the idea guys any more but also in a position to do scripting (and therefor need to now a little about programming) or paired with artist. The problem is simple, anyone could be the "idea guy" but the idea guy could hardly be an artist or fully programmer.

I personaly do some game design too in my spare time and one of these sufficed for an already published title on steam but I didnt learned any game design nor made an apprenticeship on this topic but studied computer science related to game development.

 

Ive had a talk to someone who is project lead and he mentioned that game design is very simple today except a little bit of insider know how and financial/motivative work. You should know actual main stream games and AAA title, how the gameplay is and what may the trend goes to. As game designer you plan and assemble gameplay concepts (not stories that is the task of the story writer) write concept papers the game design documents and need to think about what a player will held playing your game and how you could monetize it for example by DLCs (what have been AddOns in the past) and thats it. Balancing may be task of a game designer and QA depends on the size of the company you are working at. The bitter turth is that companies are seeking for persons with know-how and either you have already shipped a well performing title or it is hard work to go for an adequate position.

 

I would always recommend to go for anything else primary. This may be the game programmer, sound specialist or graphical artist or project manager (producer). These are the jobs that companies in games business are looking for and more important want to pay for here. An HR recruiter at Ubisoft told me that most game designers working there have made the way over QA position.

 

At the end matters what make you happy!

 

So you studied CS and still managed to design a game? As in the degree might not be worth much?

 

And companies are wanting people with know-how which, as a designer, is hard because fresh out of college you probably don't have a AAA game under your belt. However, you could have side-project games that show off your abilities in designing I would imagine.

And most Designers start in QA.

 

Also are you saying go for something in the lines of programming, sound, graphics, producing, etc. but work your way up from their to game design?

Because I'm interested in the entirety of the game development process, however design is just where I want to end up eventually.

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