# Degree versus diploma

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Some folks here say that whether or not you "need" a degree depends on what country you live in. I'm 26 years old, and I live in New Zealand. universities here are all the same, there's no such thing as one university that's better than another.

I'm settled on doing a software diploma for 1-2 years. Universities are "overkill" in my opinion, and I'm disgusted at their marketing tactics toward high school leavers: everything is about having friends/status/ego and "chasing the party". I dislike many of the university students that I've met, I perceive them to be brainwashed with conventional nonsense; or the other extreme, they think they can change the world. I've been to local gamedev meetups here in Christchurch and the guys there are great - completely the opposite of university graduates. I was telling guys at the local gamedev group that I intend to do a diploma. One of them questioned my objective. I said that I want the piece of paper (the qualification), but I want to make games on the weekend. The guy blurts out: "don't waste your time, New Zealand's education system is 4 years behind, and you'll most likely end up working on things like Barbie Seahorse Adventures and Air New Zealand complaint forms - you should just make the next Call Of Duty from your basement and break into the games industry that way"

:lol:

From what I can tell there's nothing wrong with doing a diploma in software engineering, so long as you aren't forced to do Microsoft Office. If you have to learn office for the first 4 weeks, don't do the course! The benefit of a degree seems to be maths knowledge and advanced concepts. I'm confident that I can learn advanced stuff from a book. Anyway, as mentioned I'm already going to do a diploma. I just wanted to offer my 2 cents and have a little discussion about this topic. What countries do you think are friendly toward candidates who have diplomas, not a degree? Are there cultural reasons for this or is it a case of shallow employers, who essentially hire people based on data?

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Blimey! :)

If you were asking this question during your final mandatory year of school then I'd know exactly what advice to offer you. But alas, at this point, it's simply going to be trial and error.

I don't normally reply in the "Game Industry Job Advice" forum because I cannot promise any guarantees, nor do I want to reinforce lofty optimism.

Welcome to the most competitive industry in the world!

• Tip #1: Save every cent.
• Tip #2: Focus like a Zen monk on your goals.
• Tip #3: Get some goals!

If you're not an investor then you need to have a "marketable" craft.

"Marketable" craft means (to me at least) what you are good at doing.

I'm not going to argue the merits of "Degree" vs "Diploma". Take what you can get and gain as much experience as possible.

Good luck! :)

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In the UK, it more or less reflects what Promit has mentioned. Almost job in the in industry (both in and out of games) will have a degree requirement as filter.

With more sites like HackerRank popping up to demonstrate skills first rather then education, this requirement may start to shift over the next few years.

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In the UK, it more or less reflects what Promit has mentioned. Almost job in the in industry (both in and out of games) will have a degree requirement as filter.

With more sites like HackerRank popping up to demonstrate skills first rather then education, this requirement may start to shift over the next few years.

I haven't seen Hacker(Wank) or Codility being used in that way.  In my experience a Degree is the minimum requirement to get past HR or a Recruiter.  The next step is the HW test to filter out candidates followed by either a face to face or another programming test devised by the team.

The hacker rank tests are just being used as another filter.   Also in my experience they are a waste of time and don't actually provide the best candidates.  The guys who are good at HackerRank tests tend to be the guys that spend all their time doing these kind of online puzzle but once you get them on your team they don't actually have a clue about how to find a bug, architect a solution or do anything that a half decent coder should be able to do.  They also tend to spend all day not actually getting any work done because they are trying to optimize silly fizz buzz programs to maintain their hackerwank score instead of their job.

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In the UK, it more or less reflects what Promit has mentioned. Almost job in the in industry (both in and out of games) will have a degree requirement as filter.

With more sites like HackerRank popping up to demonstrate skills first rather then education, this requirement may start to shift over the next few years.

I haven't seen Hacker(Wank) or Codility being used in that way.  In my experience a Degree is the minimum requirement to get past HR or a Recruiter.  The next step is the HW test to filter out candidates followed by either a face to face or another programming test devised by the team.

The hacker rank tests are just being used as another filter.   Also in my experience they are a waste of time and don't actually provide the best candidates.  The guys who are good at HackerRank tests tend to be the guys that spend all their time doing these kind of online puzzle but once you get them on your team they don't actually have a clue about how to find a bug, architect a solution or do anything that a half decent coder should be able to do.  They also tend to spend all day not actually getting any work done because they are trying to optimize silly fizz buzz programs to maintain their hackerwank score instead of their job.

That's very interesting to hear from someone who has interviewed a few people from the HackerRank site.

As a side question, how do you feel choosing/finding someone that generally live streams coding sessions on sites like Twitch and Live Coding?

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universities here are all the same

That's really not accurate. There's a vast amount of effort that goes in to overall rankings for Universities in NZ; the system is somewhat flawed (a lot of it is based on quantity of research papers produced, content aside) but there are definitely places you want to go to study certain subjects. Mathematics and computer science at Waikato have been way ahead of the game for quite some time, although Auckland seems to have pulled ahead as far as mathematics goes in recent years.

NZ's education system is much better than that guy would have you believe. You may end up working on licensed titles while in NZ but that's got more to do with how remote it is, so there really aren't that many game development companies. NZ is where I started but that experience got me work in Sweden, the U.S. and Canada.

While you won't be wasting your time with a diploma, you'll definitely find it harder to get work in the industry compared to those with four year degrees. That being said it's not an absolute rule, if you have a good portfolio and experience people aren't going to be turning you away.

Edited by Orangeatang

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Thanks Promit, I hadn't heard of an associate's degree before. When I made this thread I was thinking: "whaaaaaat, you don't have a diploma course in the US". Ha-ha. Anyways, some of the local game developers have no C.S. degree. One of them was working in the pharmacy business, and somehow turned to game development. These guys make $30,000 NZD a year which is probably about$20,000 - \$25,000 USD a year, LOL! I'm not that interested in writing reports at this stage in my life, so I'll do the diploma and learn everything I can on the side (PHP and CMS too). Without a degree I think you can network with good folks and improvise a career. I met a scruffy, short, cigarette-smoking Linux fan once. He started on helpdesk and made friends there, then made his own software development company - he had no qualifications, he had trustworthiness.

While getting a degree may generally be the best approach, I'm going to avoid it for a heap of personal reasons. I know a national socialist in Australia who has 2 degrees but because of the jobs he wants, he has to self-censor and he can't even write letters to the editor without risking his "reputation" ... and I'm talking about any old letter to the editor, not necessarily one about his favourite ideology. I'm strongly opposed to this "corporate" nonsense. If it means being shallow, having no spare time and having no free speech then I'll go my own way. I went to an open-source meeting 1-2 months ago, and heard brilliant insights from the organiser. I get all of my inspiration from independent companies.

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Without a degree I think you can network with good folks and improvise a career.

I don't think anyone here is saying otherwise, however the norm is for any role for a software engineer is to have a degree. (A degree is also quite valuable for VISA reasons).

There are exceptions to the norm and I certainly know a few of them in the industry. It's just generally a more difficult path and therefore not advised but that doesn't make it impossible.

I know a national socialist in Australia who has 2 degrees but because of the jobs he wants, he has to self-censor and he can't even write letters to the editor without risking his "reputation"

To be fair, everyone has this problem thanks to the Internet. Googling someone doesn't take much effort so everyone really has to watch what they write/post/say because that can come back to haunt them in some way in the future (something that teens REALLY have to watch out for as I think that will affect in a much larger way).

If you form your own company, this applies even more as you are the face of the company and what you say is reflective of the company and you are now responsible for anyone that works with/for you. e.g. Palmer Luckey.

I'm strongly opposed to this "corporate" nonsense.

You will have to encounter some red tape along the way be it clients, press, publishers, VCs, banks etc. If you are working on something is commercial, there's no way of getting around this.

Edited by yaustar

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