I am currently a junior in college, going to Louisiana State University going for a Computer Science/Math degree. As I like programming, and have also programmed some simple games (and even have a more complex game in the works), I have considered game development as a career option. This was actually spurred by the fact that I believe my university is going to offer a digital media masters soon (which they say contains some game development aspects). I have a few questions though:
1. Is game development a viable career? I have heard from articles (most rather old) that game development careers are pretty terrible working conditions in some big companies -- is this true for most? I understand that there will be crunch times in certain parts of the development cycle, but is 70-80 hours weeks typical at many studios? etc. I have also heard from a friend who has done some internships and other jobs in game development that it is reasonable.
2. (sort of going on the last question) is it a longterm career? Can I expect to be fired just because -- one of my professors seems to think that could be a possibility, due to the high number of people who want to get into this field. Then again, as with the last question, I've read articles that say it's very hard to find an experienced game developer (assuming I had been with the company for some while) that will know the things I did, have the skills I did, etc. So what is y'all's take on this matter?
3. I understand that the starting salary is below average for a programming job, but I have read somewhere that the salaries for more experienced/senior developers is on par with comparable developers in other programming industries. Is this true?
4. Would you recommend I get a masters to try to get a better chance at getting accepted (understanding that it's not a purely game development masters, but a digital media which includes some game development in it -- which could be good or bad depending on how you look at it), or would that be overkill?
Thanks for all your help,