I work with a team of five guys and of all of us only two of us have degrees, two of my fellow programmers and my producer don't have a college degree and I don't think you necessarily need one to succeed as a game programmer. In fact the most experienced and sought after engineer of our team who left us earlier this year had a presentation at Unite , and yet has no degree. he's brilliant by anyones standards . I find the educational foundation useful and overall I would argue that including school projects and released projects I have the most experience on different games in my team but the guys I work with are very capable and highly sought after themselves.
I worked on a lot of hobby projects myself and those got me far more attention then my degrees ever did . In fact on my first day everyone basically knew me as the " Stick-man game guy " . the point being that your work has a potential payoff you just haven't achieved it yet. instead of criticizing your efforts on working on projects could I instead ask if possibly you are marketing yourself incorrectly ?
Where does your portfolio show up ? are you attending networking events in your local area? what kind of online presence do you have ? they may seem like insignificant questions but in our field they are important .