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Community College or Online School?

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Hi, I attend a community college in Massachusetts called Quinsigamond Community College. A couple years ago they started a game design program.

I wanted to know if an Associate's Degree in game design at a community college would be enough to get me a career in making games or if it's better to pursue this goal by going to an online school and getting an Associate's/Bachelor's that way?

 

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Hi,

One of the advantages of attending a college in person is that you get to see instructors and industry people face-to-face, and they get to see you face-to-face. It makes it easier to form connections and find internship and employment opportunities.

It looks like Quinsigamond Community College is regionally accredited, too, which is important. Regional accreditation is a higher standard than national accreditation. A lot of online schools are only nationally accredited, although you need to do your research because there are good online schools, too. Many prospective employers will put resumes with regional accreditation at the top of the pile and national accreditation at the bottom of the pile, so it's an advantage to have a degree from a regionally-accredited school. Also, if you decide to pursue a 4-year degree, most schools will not transfer coursework from nationally-accredited schools. Depending on your field (e.g., programming), many employers look for candidates with 4-year degrees or more, although applicants with a lot of experience or impressive porfolios can sometimes get by with less.

Ultimately, though, you need to be happy and successful in whatever school you're attending. If you're able to do well at QCC and gain access to opportunities for project experience, internships, jobs, or further education, it might be a good path to stay on.

Another thing to do is to look up nearby game studios. They'll frequently host or attend game jams, such as GGJ in less than a month. If you attend, you can run your questions by them to get an idea of where they hire from.

Edited by Tony Li

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6 hours ago, Free Your Mind said:

I wanted to know if an Associate's Degree in game design at a community college would be enough to get me a career

Nothing is enough. A Bachelor's degree is preferred. 

6 hours ago, Free Your Mind said:

or if it's better to pursue this goal by going to an online school and getting an Associate's/Bachelor's that way?

That's not your only alternative option. Get as much learning (and transferable credits) as possible at the CC, then transfer to a brick-and-mortar state college for a Bachelors degree. You didn't say which game career role you are shooting for, so I can't tell you what kind of degree you should get. If you want to program games, get a computer science degree. The Associates degree in game design is good preparation and looks good on your resume. If you want to design games, get any BA degree that interests you and is affordable. 

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What IS an "Associate's Degree" ?

I don't think we have them in the UK...

 

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35 minutes ago, Katie said:

What IS an "Associate's Degree" ?

I don't think we have them in the UK...

 

It's a two-year degree, often with a technical or vocational focus, although it's sometimes used as a stepping stone to a four-year university degree.

Edited by Tony Li

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On 12/29/2017 at 10:42 AM, Tom Sloper said:

Nothing is enough. A Bachelor's degree is preferred. 

That's not your only alternative option. Get as much learning (and transferable credits) as possible at the CC, then transfer to a brick-and-mortar state college for a Bachelors degree. You didn't say which game career role you are shooting for, so I can't tell you what kind of degree you should get. If you want to program games, get a computer science degree. The Associates degree in game design is good preparation and looks good on your resume. If you want to design games, get any BA degree that interests you and is affordable. 

If I could have it my way,

I'd want to be the one calling the shots.

A person who oversees the overall developments of a game and decides what gets put in and what doesn't.

I don't think I'd enjoy coding too much and animation seems like you need to put in a lot of hard work.

I just want to know which position you need to have to have your input be taken into account and be taken into serious consideration.

Is there like a pecking order in the industry from highest to lowest on who determines the beginning and the completion of a game and what steps you need to take to work your way up the ranks?

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"I'd want to be the one calling the shots. A person who oversees the overall developments of a game and decides what gets put in and what doesn't."

Well that's pretty easy. There's a few ways to do it. One is do the game yourself which is tricky if you don't like coding. So of the other options, one just needs you to have a couple of tens of millions of dollars and the other is to have written a bunch of successful games across, say, a decade.

 

 

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Don't attempt to become a pure game designer.  You have to become a programmer or artist.  No amount of knowledge, ability, or achievement will get you a job as a pure game designer.  You could have 40 years of experience, invent the physical construct that is the basis of The Matrix, an insubstantial holodeck, and a self-programming computer with omnipresent communication.  The literal holy grail of simulation design.  And, still, you would have no chance of being hired as a pure game designer.  The only way to become a pure game designer is to found your own company from the ground up.  Don't destroy your life by attempting to become a pure game designer, there is no chance at all of that happening unless you can create your own position by creating your own company.  You WILL waste your entire life if you attempt to become a pure game designer.

Edited by Kavik Kang

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2 hours ago, Free Your Mind said:

I'd want to be the one calling the shots.

A person who oversees the overall developments of a game and decides what gets put in and what doesn't.

Then you need to get an MBA degree. Become a company owner or executive. Or work as a game designer for 15 years to build up that kind of reputation so you'll be entrusted with millions of dollars.

2 hours ago, Free Your Mind said:

Is there like a pecking order in the industry from highest to lowest on who determines the beginning and the completion of a game 

Yes. 

2 hours ago, Free Your Mind said:

and what steps you need to take to work your way up the ranks?

Read this.

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I would strongly suggest that you consider founding your own company to be the only means to becoming a game designer.  Unless you win the Devry School of Game Design lottery and randomly get selected as a level designer for the comittee, you won't ever have the chance to "work your way up".  Don't gamble your life on a lottery ticket.  Tom Sloper is THE expert on giving this type of advice.  I have always respected his opinions and have read his site more than a few times over the years.  But you really would be gambling your life on a lottery ticket if you tried to do that.

If you insist on trying, forget about "game design schools".  You need to go to business school.  You need degrees in both business management and finance, especially finance.  Then you need to create your own company from the ground up so that you can essentially hire yourself as the designer.  That is the only way that you can ever become a true game designer.  You can do this through smaller indie games and work your way up, you don't need to start out as a "AAA" developer right out of the gate, but you MUST found your own company to create the job for yourself.  It is the ONLY way, unless you want to gamble your life on a lottery ticket.

If you succeed you will become a member of a very exclusive club that includes only a very few names like Sid Meier, Will Wright, and Brad Wardell.  Almost certainly, you will not succeed in this.  You are at a critical moment in your life right now, and you need to establish a career right now.  "Game designer" is not a career that exists, nobody will ever hire you to do that.  You have to create your own job to do that, and for that you need to know what you need to know to both finance and establish your own company.  It is the ONLY sane and rational way to go about it.

Definitely don't think in terms of "I will learn everything there is to know about simulation design".  If you do that, within a very short period of time you will know too much about simulation design to ever work in this business in any capacity.

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