Extra Credits: On Game Schools

This week, we give a step-by-step guide on how to choose a good game school.

Show Notes:

Sarah is pretty rad. Check out her art and webcomic!

Would you like James to come speak at your school or organization?

For info, contact us at: kate@extra-credits.net

Recent Comments:

  • Hello everyone. This episode has touched me greatly, and I felt the need to share some of my experiences and wisdom with you all.

    I strongly believe that a good school experience is 50% school and 50% student. That said, I'm sure even westwood college, who couldn't even market themselves correctly, has at least a slight chance of churning out a success story.

    I graduated Full Sail in August 2010. This school was a perfect match for me and everyone I know who graduated from it. The school is not for everyone however, and If you're interested, you can read my too long to post here experiences which are in response to the video: http://betweencode.com/2012/09/penny-arcade-extra-credits-on-game-schools/

    For some of you who are looking for good schools, I have met and worked with other graduates from Guildhall, Digipen, and Full Sail, and my experiences have been that these folks know their stuff inside out. Mileage may vary from graduate to graduate of course. I'm sure there are plenty others that range from good to decent, but I can vouch for those. They are worth looking into if you don't know where to start.

    Some of you are not sure about what degree to get, if even to get one at all. Here are my experiences based on folks I know in the industry and some personal experiences. Although you can technically get into the industry without a degree, a degree is a way of saying "Here is proof that I have mastered at least this much." It is also a way of learning the trade in a guided manner from beginning to end not just with what is current, but with the fundamental parts to it as well. Additionally, when you are in college, you have the opportunity to network with your peers. They are the ones who will help you get the jobs later on (or vise-versa). Many times, unfortunately, it's not what you know, but who you know, that gets you places. This is an invaluable part of college.

    There are a couple of very distinct roles involved in game making if you aren't sure what degree to get. The ones most directly involved with games are various flavors of programmers, artists, audio engineers, designers, producers, and QA.
    The following is my opinion of a good path to take: (note: I use links to Full Sail but do consider others as well )

    Programmers - Get a computer science degree. A Game Development degree is the same, except everything is specialized/tailored to game-related code design patterns, optimizations, logic, etc. With either degree, learning is a lifelong process. If you switch to another industry outside your degree focus, you will need to update your skills with self teaching no matter what route you take. It's a part of life.

    Artists - Portfolio, Portfolio, Portfolio!!! A school can teach you techniques, but talent and networking will be mostly yours to develop. Master your fundamentals, and I advise you to seek out feedback from some industry guys you admire who are usually happy to give valuable advice.

    Audio guys - I will give you the same advice I give artists. I actually can't advise going to school at this time, only because at the time I graduated (2010) there was a massive over saturation of recording arts majors (my brother has that degree) and it's incredibly difficult to find job. Do your research. It is entirely possible my advice here is outdated.

    Designers - If you wish to design games, first master one of the other trades, such as programming or art. Then consider a degree involving project management to really hone your skills. A degree is entirely optional, most people in this field usually move up into this position from within and many I'm sure without a degree. You have to make it your life's purpose to learn everything about everything no matter how insignificant it will sound. From physics, to cartography, from weather prediction to ancient history, you will need everything. Do keep in mind that a game designer is more like a project manager. Your job is NOT to sit in a room all day thinking of cool things, rather to coordinate ideas and process between teams. Sorry to ruin your dreams to some of you. Please have realistic expectations.

    Producers - I recommend a business degree if you want to open up your own studio. Then you'll need to find a way to make money work for you to hire talent, etc. Or, have a lot of super dedicated friends willing to sacrifice hundreds of hours of their life to coordinate their diverse talents under your undying leadership. If you want to work for a large company, then you're probably going to have to start at the bottom (degree or not) and work your way up to the top.

    Yup. There you have it. My .22 cents. Best of luck to whoever this may help. If you want to ask me any questions, I'll be happy to answer or point you to someone who might be able to.

  • This one hit home hard for me.

    I have a Degree and 2 years in a school and could not find work.

    -I got out i 2007 during the Writers strike

    But the first red flag i notice was we were late first year getting life drawing class and we get new teachers left and right.

    From when we started to finish, the entire administrative and teacher staff including the deen was replaced expect our storyboard teacher who was a student trying to learn new 3d animation. That used to work in the insdusty on storyboards such as Franklin the Turtle and the Barenstein Bears.

    We had a class of 15 starting, 12 Graduated 1 got a job, He hired 2 other people from the class.

    Now I'm back in college taking an accountant degree at a community college, where the success rate is very high and it's math without the Science in it so i like it.

  • Hello Extra Credits,

    I seen the video about gaming schools a while back (Kind of funny since my current "University" is the reason I found you in the first place. After watching the video, and already started my second year by the time I found it. I'm worried that I have made a HUGE mistake for not doing enough research before choosing the right school. I did research different schools but maybe was a little "Too quick on the trigger" when choosing my current school "Fullsail" Since they are like in the video..

    1. For- profit school
    2. Promised a degree in only 2 years... <-- sarcasm
    3. Credits are “NOT” transferable
    4. and many other.. (Most likely B.S promises)

    I have already put in so much time into this school, and over $40,000 (Out of OVER $80,000) in Finical Aid, and private loans. What should I do? I mean I really do want to become a game designer, it's my passion and dream. I already had some skill in it (As Idle developer) when I decided college to try advance my skills and earn a degree. Currently there isn’t any good college’s around me that can offer me an education that I need to help me achieve my goal, and I really don’t know what to do. I’m worried I’m doing all this for nothing and just wasting my time, I’m already struggling enough in what it seems this joke of a “University” even tech there not even a university.

    Sincerely,
    John .V.

  • Hey all, so my question is a little bit (and by a little, I mean a lot) different.

    I don't have a highly technical mind, and design/programming/etc. are not for me, at all. However, I have a huge passion for music and am at a 4 year university currently working on a music degree. Does anyone know if there are any game design institutes that have a program focused on designing music specifically for games in a master's/post-grad setting?

  • Sorry if I possibly NecroBumped this thread, but I think it's important that I thank the Extra Credits crew. Originally, I was dead set on going to a college which wasn't as great as it thought it would be, and with out the EC Crew, I think my future would've been ruined. Right now, I'm searching for colleges that would be perfect for game developers, so far, I've found a college that can help me out with that, I just have to see if it's Regionally Accredited and such. Anyway, I only wish to announce that I'm truly thankful that the EC crew exists, because without them, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be getting into a big company. So far, I AM in my final semester of Intermediate School, and I will be entering my first year of high school rather shortly. However, I usually like being prepared, which is why I am looking into colleges. I've always had a dream that I'd become a world renowned game developer (much like Keiji Inafune, a game developer I look up to) and work at Capcom Of America, and possibly branch off and maybe work on my own company.

    To basically summarize this in a few sentences, I hope you, the EC Crew, have read this and acknowledged that I am truly thankful for helping me out with my college choices. Without you guys, I would have surely not be able to achieve my dreams. Thank you very much.

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