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Qualifications Now Or Later?

This is my 3rd month at college studying 'Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment'. This is supposed to get me into the games industry. But like at any school (primary, secondary, tertiary) you sit the course but teach yourself.

I know that I can pass and become qualified. Hell, any Tom, Dick and Harry can become qualified. But only the smartest ones will be employed. (That's why you hear a lot of students that have graduated and say they can't find a job)

There are 2 choices I'm considering. Would it be more efficient if:

CHOICE A:
I was to study on my own at home, *knowing and understanding* what I'm studying, and then being able to confidently present a damn good demo reel to a company that would except me and pay for my qualifications.

or

CHOICE B:
Continue with the two year 'Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment' course, and come out with qualifications but not *knowing and understanding* what I'm doing.

*when I say 'knowing and understanding' I'm referring to this because when you finish a Bachelor course, you are not actually good at it, just qualified. If I was to study at home I wouldn't just be completing my own course I would be experimenting, mastering, and learning the 'art'.

Zyrus
Monday, April 19, 2004

You can probably think of reasons to quit and study at home.  So here are a few reasons to consider staying:

Unless you're extremely self-motivated, it's hard to stick to a self-study schedule (assuming you formally design one) and easier to stick to a schedule imposed from outside (like your classes).

You'll miss interaction with your classmates; there may be a few bright ones whom you'd learn some things from.

You won't likely be able to do any collaborative projects, at least not meeting with other people in person.

Some of your courses may well introduce you to entire areas of knowledge that you weren't aware of.  They won't help you cover the whole breadth of such knowledge, but without the courses you might not even have known enough to start.

...However, if you're in an easy course, don't be afraid to ask the instructor if you can just turn in the assignments, and use the time gained skipping class to further your knowledge.  I've done a lot of this.

Also, consider looking for someone on the faculty who'd be willing to mentor you or at least give you projects to work on, deadlines, and point you toward good resources.

Kyralessa
Monday, April 19, 2004

Advice 1: Don't go into the games industry.

Advice 2: Keep looking for a games job while you're studying. There's a significant number of people in the games industry who have no interest in your qualifications.

Advice 3: If you really want to go for study, get a proper degree, not some diploma no employer has ever heard of. If the people you apply to are looking for qualifications they will prefer someone with a CS degree from a good university.

Mr Jack
Monday, April 19, 2004

There was another discussion on education a couple of years back. Still worth a look at the comments.

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=13286

Tapiwa
Monday, April 19, 2004

"Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment"

What the hell is that? 

All I can think of is all those CxO jobs like the one Martha Stewart had (Chief Creative Officer).  Some job they made up to make them look important.

Although,  in college I did enjoy working on my Bachelor of Beer and Pool  :)

apw
Monday, April 19, 2004

Degrees help get first jobs, but not in the games industry. What helps get first jobs in the games industry is making games.

Like a previous poster, I wouldn't suggest going into the games industry. You'll have a nearly impossible time traversing from games to a "normal" job, if you ever wanted to, because game developers are often looked at as maverick hackers with limited talent (e.g., good at graphics engines, but no grounding in the basics of true computer science).

Good luck, whatever you choose.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, April 19, 2004

My experience is the opposite. Mainstream companies are often impressed by game programmers, due to their undeserved reputation of being really good.

I certainly had no trouble switching. I recommend not working in games because it's a just plain shitty area to work in.

Mr Jack
Monday, April 19, 2004

I agree with Jack, I worked in the industry for four years, am glad I left, and had no problem moving on.

The "qualifications" you need for game industry programming are generally a B.S. in comp sci or EE, physics or math from an accredited university, not some "classes" from a strip-mall "school". Don't waste your money... get a real education.

Though come to think of it, that's got to be a great moneymaker. Offer "classes" at $2K a pop, times thirty 18 year-old slackers at a time looking to make money playing their video games without having to do actual school work, then pay studios cash to take a few students on as "interns" so you can advertise that in your brochures... hmmm...

Adam
Monday, April 19, 2004

How is everyone so sure he's at a strip-mall school?  Most B.S.'s and B.A.'s take two years...it's just that the two years before, you have all those prereqs.  When I entered college (the first time), between CLEP, AP, and college-credit-for-high-school-courses I had a year's worth of credit already.  Perhaps Zyrus was even more ambitious (and doesn't plan to fill up the four years anyway like I did).

Kyralessa
Monday, April 19, 2004

The college I go to is an expensive, specialised (in the field of interactive entainment and multimedia) and recognized college in Australia.

The 'Bachelor of Interactive Entertainment' degree would be an eqivilant and recognisable degree to the CS degree. (Because of what's taught in the course).

The only reason I would go to college would be to get a qualification. I know I won't actually come out with real experience or learn the art but I need a qualification because companies (and society) only trust qualified opinions no matter how good you are at what you do.

Since I'm going to be great at what I do (I can go the distance), I was wondering: CHOICE A or CHOICE B as posted at the top.

Zyrus
Monday, April 19, 2004

Like others who have replied I have worked in the games industry and am now back in normality :-)

If you want to get a job as a games designer I don't think your qualification is going to count for very much. Games design is inspiration as much as anything else. Designing and running a web based or freeware game will put you as much in the spotlight of prospective employers as anything else you can do. But if you manage to create a succesfull online game, why not start your own company? Working conditions in games companies are in general not very good, and the only people who I have ever seen that made a fortune out of it were in management. Often teams are sacked when the project that they are working on is cancelled (which happens in more than 50% of the cases), so don't expect your stock options to mature either.

x
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I've decided to stick to the degree. We have to choices to major in: Animation or Programming. To get a job in animation, you don't need a qualification in about 90% of the cases. But with programming you do need a qualification. So I think I'll do my major in programming. The qualification will also help because it shows I've been through team work.

Ok I'm off to get my qualification.

Thanks for the help everyone.

Zyrus
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I'm going into the course light heartedly. So I can be doing my own extra study in my own time.

I think that was the problem as to why I stuffed up in high school.

Even if I don't do great in the gaming industry itself, I might start a project somewhere else in the technology side of things.

But I'll always have a degree. Just so I can show an employer that I have a degree.

Zyrus
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The original poster said:

"Hell, any Tom, Dick and Harry can become qualified."

This is not true.  Any Tom, Dick, Harry or Sally can sit the course and do the homework and study for the tests and get a passing grade.  But a passing grade has very little to do with being qualified to perform in a professional capacity in a creative industry, particularly one like the games and entertainment industry with such a huge emphasis on self-starting ultra-creative work.

One of the best ways to qualify yourself for the game industry is to conceive and write a game on your own.

Chris Hanson
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I'd say that sticking with school was a good choice, not because it will help you immediately, but because you might be darned glad you have a degreee (any degree) later on.

It's sad but true that many companies/investors won't look at anyone without a degree and they don't really care what the degree is in.

You don't want to be sitting with a bunch of 17-year-olds doing those ridiculous "foundation" courses when you're 40-years old.

Good luck!

anon
Sunday, April 25, 2004

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