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ArbitorSupreme

Computer Science or Game Development

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I have been doing research and looking at blogs about game development. I noticed on some blogs and websites stated that computer science would be a better choice. I just want someone else's opinion on the matter.

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I believe it would be easier to get a job outside of gamedev with a cs degree, a lot easier then trying to get a job outside with a gamedev degree. A lot of the stuff you learn there aren't useful in many other areas, they are more a specified part of the field. GameDev is an happy dream for many, but does not result in a happy reality for even more. Better to have a job and a hobby, than 'nothing'.

So for job security and your future, I'd go with computer science.

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It would make more sense to get a Computer Science degree, and branch out. There are far more programming jobs outside of game development, and like @Pether stated, job security is what you want.

I had a friend who went and got a Game Development degree. He wasn't able to land any jobs that would pay enough to support his family. Most game companies wouldn't hire him without commercial experience, and a portfolio, so he either had to work at an entry level job barely making minimum wage, or leave the game development industry.

He ended up working in corporate software, and ran a small company on the side that he used to promote games he made with friends.

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11 minutes ago, Pether said:

GameDev is an happy dream for many, but does not result in a happy reality for even more

This is never emphasized enough TMO. So I would say it result in a happy reality for very few. Because even if you work in a game company, even if you work for AAA games, many are still unhappy with this. Game dream was good in the 80s were one single man could do a full game alone. This is now impossible except maybe for phone games, but there, there are so many games, that you get lost in the sea.

5 minutes ago, ArbitorSupreme said:

So. Let's say I got my CS degree. How hard would it be to get into a game job position with that?

What most people answer here is: do game things aside from your studies. Do art things, create models, program, create a game with others and post what you do on the net.

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3 minutes ago, ArbitorSupreme said:

So. Let's say I got my CS degree. How hard would it be to get into a game job position with that? @Rutin

I'm going to give you a bit of an example here, and this is coming from someone that runs companies and has been programming for over 15 years.

When you leave school and get a degree, you have zero guarantee anyone will hire you out the gate. When applying for programming jobs you will have to pass the pre-screening for your resume and optional portfolio if you have one. Most "big" companies will require you to take some form of a test that displays a level of programming ability, problem solving, ect... Then you have to be a good fit for the culture. Once you're in the door, it usually easier to move around with the added experience in commercial work, and portfolio.

On the topic of finding a job in game development, well this is a very broad category. There are many roles in game development that are not coding related, however considering you're most likely a programmer you have many roles as well. You will have people that script the level editor, expand and develop the engine, and more that work on additional third party tools, ect.... It all depends on what you want to do, and you wont be doing it 'all' like you would as a hobbyist.

Without any commercial experience and a portfolio that shows you're able to program games, it would be very unlikely you will be able to get a role that will having you working on the core game engine, or designing levels, worlds, characters, ect.... for AAA mainstream games. You may be able to get hired as an entry level scripter for basic tasks until you're able to build a rapport. Coming from someone that has hired people, I don't actually care about post secondary education, I care about skill sets you have today, and your ability to improve tomorrow, and I wouldn't hire someone fresh out of school without practical experience for anything but an entry level role scripting, and shadowing other coders while doing QA testing.

A lot of game development companies post their job ads online and usually require a number of working years in certain languages, post-secondary (this can be voided depending on the company, your experience, and portfolio size), types of projects you've worked on, and releases such as 2-3 AAA titles. This requirement will increase as the role you seek is higher up in the food chain.

My suggestion is to apply for entry level roles as either a scripter if you can, but you might be stuck in QA roles for a bit. If you do get a role as a scripter, you most likely will be maintaining or upgrading toolsets to start.

This is why I always recommend people move into a role that is outside of game development first, get a few years of commercial experience, work on some side games to build your portfilo, then go and apply.

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In the US it is typical for game programmers to have a bachelors degree in computer science.  That is not universal, some do not have a degree, others have degrees in other areas, others have more advanced degrees.  But if you took a poll, likely 80-90% have a traditional CS degree.

I've worked with people who from game-specific schools, where they offer trade degrees in game programming. Generally they lack the rigor when it comes to the computer science topics.  One co-worker who went to DigiPen was a great programmer around most topics, but one day he needed to build a grammar for a parsing tool.  That's generally something that is required for both compiler theory courses and computer theory courses at most schools, but he said he was never exposed to it. 

Another was going to go on to grad school but he was turned down because the school said he didn't have the academic background.  He appealed, and one of his instructors who said he was one of the better students also asked the school to reconsider.  The co-worker was asked to come up and take some of the course finals for required courses.  When we talked the next work day, he told me there was no way he had passed, he knew almost none of the theory topics, didn't know several of the algorithms, and struggled with the mandatory math requirements for their graduate studies program.

 

A traditional computer science degree can transfer to other fields beyond games. If you cannot find a job in games, or if you decide you don't want to spend the rest of your life developing games, it is not difficult to move over to other fields. Business programming is an option. Other systems like hardware development, driver development, and other non-game programming are options. I know several who transitioned to military simulation programming and medical imaging programming.

You could also attend a school with a full bachelors degree in computer science that offers an additional game certification or specialty. Many schools have a way to add "emphasis" programs, like an emphasis on network programming, on graphics programming, or with game programming. When applying to the job you can omit the emphasis from your degree, you would have a full computer science degree.

Those options are not available if you get a game programming certificate or trade degree rather than computer science degree.  Employers will go through their resume stack and those with the CS degree will be called for interviews.  The degree has minimal value outside the games industry.

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