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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:

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.


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'.

Monday, April 19, 2004

While it is certainly possible to pass a course of study without really learning the material, it is by no means obligatory.

Why not continue the course of study and actually master the material as well? This may take more work but it's certainly possible.

The trouble with the "learn it yourself at home" theory is that most people just don't have the motivation to do it really well. At least the program your in will guide you through the areas that somebody has decided are important to learn, and give you an opportunity to learn from your faculty and colleagues.

Finally, if you have formal qualifications you're going to find it a lot easier to get past the resume gatekeepers.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Monday, April 19, 2004

Speaking as one who did the 'learn it at home' thing, I can tell you a there are a few things wrong with it. Very few, if any, of the companies you'd like to work for consider it a valid form of education. Most of the mistakes I make are associated with basic stuff that normally gets taught in even the worst of schools. Most of my 'peers' don't really consider me to be a peer, shutting me out of much valuable peer support and networking.

I'm not saying you shouldn't figure things out by working alone in the basement, but by all means keep going to school and get that piece of paper, even if you think it's not all that valuable.

Ron Porter
Monday, April 19, 2004

I work in the game industry and it is probably one of the best industries if you want to DIY.

However, *nobody cares* what you KNOW -- it is what you can DO.  It is very performance oriented, you're not going to get by throwing around buzzwords.

If you have, for example, put out a reasonably successful shareware game and made some money off it, you could get a job at a game company even if you have no college degree.  You probably just have to prove that you really did everything yourself and passed it during the interview.

And I haven't ever heard of anyone being hired from any of those game schools that are popping up.  We don't even interview there, as far as I know (I work at EA).  I

Monday, April 19, 2004

One more thing to gain from going to a university is contacts with professors who will be willing to act as references.  Get a job as a TA.  You will actually master the course material and you will gain a friend in a professor (if you do a good job.)  I've noticed that the older a professor is, the more likely he or she will dispense praise and altruism.  One reason is that you may well save them from looking like they don't know as much as they should (hey, they don't eat and drink slashdot) and because old age somehow softens people to the needs of others (perhaps they are thinking of the afterlife).  I also found it fun to explain difficult concepts.  Good Luck!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

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