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MintyLyton

Decision-Making for Game Programming Career

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Hey, I'm new to the forums but I have a question for everyone. So a bit of backstory, I am almost 25 years old and I've just graduated from Game Programming at a college level, but I feel like I didn't progress as I wanted to. I was really depressed with stuff that I was making which made me not focus in school and I didn't network properly with other students and professors. I've already moved on with that part of my life but I've come up with decisions that I need insight on. Should I go back to college and maybe network more with people and focus on honing my skills that I failed to do in college? Should I maybe go to a University instead and take Computer Sciences because a lot of my professors had that Degree under their belt. Lastly, should I just stay where I am and continue programming games while meeting other like minded people and also working a part time job? 

Edited by MintyLyton

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You've got a few good 

4 hours ago, MintyLyton said:

Should I maybe go to a University instead and take Computer Sciences because a lot of my professors had that Degree under their belt. 

Your location matters.  The nature of your "Game Programming at a college level" can matter.

In some regions a bachelor's degree is nearly required for HR because nearly every applicant has the degree.  Your "Game Programming at a college level" might satisfy HR requirements, or they might not.

In other regions it is mostly about prior work experience, demos, and portfolios since higher education is more scarce.

Ultimately you aren't in a vacuum, you are competing against others who apply. 

4 hours ago, MintyLyton said:

should I just stay where I am and continue programming games while meeting other like minded people and also working a part time job? 

That is a good soul-searching question. I recommend the book "What Color Is Your Parachute?"  The book has several chapters devoted to helping you figure out many different paths you might want to explore, and many different methods to get wherever that destination happens to be.

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I would love to get into game programming as an indie developer but I feel like I might have to work on my patience to be an indie game developer. I've heard stories that some people make a career out of indie like 10+ years in the industry.

13 minutes ago, frob said:

That is a good soul-searching question. I recommend the book "What Color Is Your Parachute?"  The book has several chapters devoted to helping you figure out many different paths you might want to explore, and many different methods to get wherever that destination happens to be.

I'll take a look at the book because I think it might solve some problems towards my career goals.

15 minutes ago, frob said:

In some regions a bachelor's degree is nearly required for HR because nearly every applicant has the degree.  Your "Game Programming at a college level" might satisfy HR requirements, or they might not.

I'm definitely not trying to get a job in the HR field and I'm pretty much set in stone about becoming a game programmer.

My current goals as of now is make a small games within a month time-frame, and participate in Game Jams / Meetup networks for coding. My main issue though is my current Math skills which I feel University might help but not sure I can develop them as fast as by myself.

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4 minutes ago, MintyLyton said:

I'm definitely not trying to get a job in the HR field and I'm pretty much set in stone about becoming a game programmer.

Perhaps that didn't come across clearly.

In some regions, if you don't have a bachelor's degree you won't get hired.  There will be a pile of job applications and yours will be one of the few without a bachelor's degree. Unless you've got a long list of accomplishments and published games, the lack of a bachelor's degree will visibly stand out, and the job application will never make it past the HR desk to the people who have the power to interview or hire.

In one region I lived, a bachelor's degree was basically required for every job since education was plentiful and cheap. This was wonderful for employers because candidates met a much higher education standard, but it made it more difficult for people who did not want to go through higher education.

There are also regions at the opposite extreme, where higher education is extremely rare and degrees are heavily touted.

And there is everything in between.

10 minutes ago, MintyLyton said:

I'll take a look at the book

Good. It is an excellent guide to help discover where you want to take your career. I've heard of schools where it is mandatory reading. 

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10 minutes ago, frob said:

In some regions, if you don't have a bachelor's degree you won't get hired.  There will be a pile of job applications and yours will be one of the few without a bachelor's degree. Unless you've got a long list of accomplishments and published games, the lack of a bachelor's degree will visibly stand out, and the job application will never make it past the HR desk to the people who have the power to interview or hire.

I've heard this from other people as well but I might come to this solution after where I see myself after 1-2 of years. University is also pretty costly here and I'm paying off my college fees in increments right now too. 

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It does also depend what type of job you want to do. If your aim is to get hired by a big company, then the competition is indeed high. But if your aim is to program games, regardless of the size of the company, and you know enough about programming to do so right now, then it will probably be easier to find indie companies looking to expand, or people looking to start indie compagnies. It is not at all the same type of job or work environment, but both are programming games. It also depends on where you are. Here in Montreal, or down in Austin TX, for example, there are a plethora of indies looking for programmers, but that's not the case everywhere.

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3 hours ago, Aurelien Folie - Odin said:

It does also depend what type of job you want to do. If your aim is to get hired by a big company, then the competition is indeed high. But if your aim is to program games, regardless of the size of the company, and you know enough about programming to do so right now, then it will probably be easier to find indie companies looking to expand, or people looking to start indie compagnies. It is not at all the same type of job or work environment, but both are programming games. It also depends on where you are. Here in Montreal, or down in Austin TX, for example, there are a plethora of indies looking for programmers, but that's not the case everywhere.

I've already came up to the conclusion to try to hit up smaller companies right now. I do have a goal in mind to try to apply for bigger companies once I get enough money to pay off college / other debts. For that I might study at a University for Computer Science in Toronto then start applying but I'm not even sure I want to go that route in the future. Right now my course of action is to create portfolio pieces, and start developing a network with people. I'm creating a website to display my games and doing blogs weekly. I'm starting to use Twitter more often to get in touch with other developers as well.

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As others have mentioned, if you're looking to get into anywhere with an HR team (or automated system) it might be an issue without a degree.
However, if you are looking for smaller teams not having a degree should not be an issue AS LONG AS you can show that you have learned important skills and can finish projects.

I believe Toronto has a decent dev scene, have a look on meetup.com and other places to find other people to talk to. Don't go in expecting a job or collaborators, just be friendly and chatty and people may find positions for you to apply to over time.

Good luck!

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9 minutes ago, Iridescent said:

As others have mentioned, if you're looking to get into anywhere with an HR team (or automated system) it might be an issue without a degree.
However, if you are looking for smaller teams not having a degree should not be an issue AS LONG AS you can show that you have learned important skills and can finish projects.

I believe Toronto has a decent dev scene, have a look on meetup.com and other places to find other people to talk to. Don't go in expecting a job or collaborators, just be friendly and chatty and people may find positions for you to apply to over time.

Good luck!

I guess my time management kind of sucks still cause I'm having a hard time between studying / working (as a part timer) / doing game jams / personal time. I am part of a meetup group for programmers but it sometimes takes away from other sectors which I'm trying to improve on. 

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I wouldn't blame your time management. It is always difficult to manage work/social and learning new skills! Just focus on pressing on with what you're doing and making sure you're taking care of yourself at the same time.

I'm not sure if you have considered this, but you can also apply for app developer roles and keep game making on the side as part of jams. App teams may be more able to sustain junior roles and you can then learning programming on the job.

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