So you want to break into the video game industry (you want a game biz job). First, you have to know which type of job you want -- if you don't know which you want, you need to read about the game industry and the types of jobs in it. Then you might need to make a decision. Third, you need to be qualified for the job. Fourth, you need to know how to find information and how to ask good questions (you need to not ask bad questions). Finally, we have tips for getting the job.
I'm coming to you for advice. I'm currently 30 years old, full-time government employee, and I'm looking for a career change. I'm interested in going into computer science/game design, and I have a couple of choices as far as education goes.
I'm in the Dallas area, and SMU has a program that offers a Bachelor's in Computer Science with an emphasis in Game Design, and there's also a community college that offers an Associate's Degree in Game design.
Which option is better, obviously the community college would be cheaper and shorter, but would I be able to find work with a game company with that kind of education?
Let me know what you think. If you need more information about the programs, I can post it.
The best option depends on what *you* want to do. You mentioned a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science with an emphasis in Game Design. Do you want to go to college for 4+ years and get a Computer Science degree? Do you want to be a software engineer / programmer in the game industry? You also mentioned an Associate's Degree in Game Design. In that case, it doesn't sound like you would learn Computer Science. Do you want to be a Game Designer then? Or a little bit of both maybe? If you want to stick with programming, a Computer Science degree is probably the best option... and you pick from many universities in the area (I hear UNT has some game programming courses). And you can also learn *game programming* by writing games on the side to add that to your CS knowledge. If you want to stick with game design, you could go for the Associate's Degree, or you can also practice by yourself by studying games and creating your own using existing tools (Unity, UDK, GameMaker, etc).
What I've learned so far is that there are multiple ways to educate yourself in game development, and there are multiple ways to enter the industry. To answer your question, it's hard to tell whether you will be able to find work at a game company... both with or without a specialized degree... but having a good portfolio will make you stand out.
Another thing you could do is to try and enter the industry with a QA job. Maybe a game company that is local to you is hiring for their QA department. If you make it in, you could try that for a while to see if you want to be part of the game industry.
I guess my next question would be, what is the difference between a game designer and a programmer? Is one more in demand than another, and is the pay very different across the industry for each of the options?
I guess I had planned more on the programmer side, just because it seems like there'd be more job security, and I could always use the CS degree for something else if game programming didn't pan out. Then again, I don't know that I fully understand the difference between game design and game programming.