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Game-Related Education On the Rise At Colleges 178

The LA Times has a story about the increased interest in learning how to make video games amongst college students, and the subsequent rise in game-related education as the schools respond to that demand. Some programs are gaining legitimacy, while others do perhaps more harm than good. Quoting: "The surge in interest has led schools to add games to their menu — but not always to the benefit of its students. Recruiters say they often see 'mills' that run around-the-clock sessions to quickly churn out as many students as possible. Other programs teach specific skills but not how games are pulled together. 'It's a very hot academic growth area,' said Colleen McCreary, who runs EA's university relations program. 'I'm very worried about the number of community colleges and for-profit institutions, as well as four-year programs, that are using game design as a lure for students who are not going to be prepared for the real entry-level positions that the game industry wants.'"
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Game-Related Education On the Rise At Colleges

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  • Stay away.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by NFN_NLN ( 633283 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:40PM (#25522085)

    Stay far away from the Video Game industry if you value your 'personal' time. Of the few people I know working for BioWare and Ubisoft... that job will become your life.

    I think it all boils down to what one boss said to one of the guys I know: "I've got 35 resumes sitting on my desk of people just as qualified as you who are willing to do your job. So no you can't have time off."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:52PM (#25522175)

    I've had to fire three programmers already. None were looking for real work they wanted to be paid to play. They talked well and seemed to have the skills but all had poor attitudes and didn't display even rudimentary professional behavior. I wasted a lot of time and money trying to give each a chance to perform but in the end I fired all of them. Our company has had to rethink doing any game related work due to the generally poor quality of applicants. It's very hard to find decent programmers no matter what we are willing to pay. I'm probably going to have to resort to headhunters and if that fails we'll have to drop the idea entirely. We have backing to produce games but unless I can find competent programmers we simply can't take on the projects.

  • Maybe a dream (Score:3, Informative)

    by Statecraftsman ( 718862 ) * on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:12PM (#25522307) Homepage
    but this dream at least has fall-back potential. Upon first reading the headline, I thought, "Yeah, game programming is like trying to become a professional sports player. Glamorous and lucrative, yes, but highly unlikely given the # of spots and interested individuals."

    But this is different. In programming, if you can't work on games, you can work on websites or accounting systems, or make pie charts. Not necessarily sexy but they'll pay the bills. A lot more than being a high school coach. The common thread whatever your endeavour is hard work. So sit down and code. If you're lucky, Blizzard'll come calling.
  • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:03PM (#25522659)

    Somebody who'd want to program for a real game company would be better off getting a math degree with emphasis on programming rather than a CompSci degree with emphasis in software engineering.

    On what basis do you offer this advice? Game development is a very practical endeavor, with a large number of very specialized requirements:

    * C/C++ fluency is almost universally required. Other languages such as C#/Lua/Python
    * Understanding of efficient coding practices and optimization

    And, of course, you can then split off into one of many specialized areas:
    * 3D graphics programming
    * Audio programming
    * AI and pathfinding
    * Animation systems
    * Cinematics/Machinima systems
    * Physics programming
    * Internal tools development
    * Gameplay programming
    * Platform-specific specialists
    * Server/network programming

    A math degree is useful for some of these jobs, but not all. Most programming job listings ask for a CS degree or equivalent in industry experience. You could probably get in with a math degree, and it might help you find a specialized programming job such as a physics developer (extremely math-intensive), but I just don't see it being too practical in a general sense.

    Honestly, I can think of very few times I've had to call on any of my higher math skills as a game programmer (I specialize in audio, cinematic, and AI programming). Most of the time, basic linear algebra suffices quite nicely.

  • by sleeponthemic ( 1253494 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:17PM (#25522739) Homepage

    Except that kids who have a life time dream of being a games programmer typically have more productive alternatives to fall back on than kids who wanna be rock stars.

    Yet the wannabe rock star still gets more pussy.

    There is no justice :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:25PM (#25522779)
    when obama takes office not are you only going to have to pay for your education, honky, but you're also going to have to pay for a niggers too.
  • Re:TV Scams (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sparton ( 1358159 ) on Monday October 27, 2008 @03:26AM (#25524115)

    The first thing I thought of in regards to the EA quote was those ITT Tech and other TV commercials who advertise making games after 2 years. That's bullshit, in my humble opinion.

    Well, unfortunately, your humble opinion is incorrect. I graduated out of the Art Institute as a Game Designer (a year-and-a-half program, but I took an extra quarter) and got a job just over 3 months after I graduated.

    In addition, out of the 30ish people that graduated with me, I know of at least 5 people who also already have jobs, some even landed at the portfolio show our school hosted at the end of their schooling.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that I've had the opportunity of going to a incredibly good school for this. My school taught me what I need to know, a bit of the other disciplines so I better understood my place in a team, but also had classes that emulated being in the industry where I'm actually make a game with people of other disciplines.

    In short, it's not impossible, but it's all about having a good school. I've seen a lot of positive posts about Full Sail, which sounds very similar to the Art Institute that I went to. Anyone interested in entering the games industry should look for schools that teach you what you need, in a relatively short amount of time, and also that they have some classes where you're in a team and making a game with people of other disciplines.

Happiness is twin floppies.