I just want to say from the start that I'm not trying to find a shortcut here and I definitely don't think I'm the exception to any of the well trodden rules posted over and over again on this forum. I've just been running through what might be the best path from where I am to where I want to be given certain practical realities in my life. So here goes...
I'm in my mid-30s and am the primary income for a family of four with two younger children (4 and 7). I am middle management for a big company in an industry that isn't doing so well as a whole, and more specifically for a company that definitely seems like its better days are in the past. I don't wish to dwell on my current job too much but I believe it is completely true to say that my current employment cannot be relied upon to provide for me and my family for the next ~30 years. Some variety of move will have to be made and while departure from my job is by no means imminent I have started to give serious consideration to what my move will be.
I am where I am because I work for the same company for which I started working part time while in college. I actually have a BS in Computer Science (graduated in 1999) but when I finished school I was offered a management position and took it. I've been promoted several times since then to where I currently am.
So long story short, I make around 75k a year with benefits, and I just plain cannot afford to take too much of a paycut. As much as I'd like to get an entry level job and work my way up (which I am very confident I could do), its just not in the cards. So, my question is, what should I do if my end goal is to be in the game industry? I've thought about:
1) Take night classes and get my CS Master's.
2) Work my ass off on my own game (either alone or with some people) and prove I can make a commercially viable product on my own and use that as leverage to skip the bottom few rungs of the ladder.
3) Investigate some kind of lateral movement towards the game industry using the management skills and experience I have accumulated over the past 10+ years.
4) Explore the possibility of taking an entry level job and finding some other way to supplement my income to make up the difference in pay.
It's worth noting that while I would like to eventually get into the game design end of things I consider myself a more than competent programmer as well with a few hobby projects to my credit. Nothing to write home about but still, its something.
So I guess I'd just like to know if there is anyone with some advice out there...