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Game schools, yay or nay?

Note: This was written after a long day, not proofread or reread, just a stream of consciousness much like most of my writing and isn't my final opinion on the matter. I am open minded about college, and would go no questions asked if I was given enough financial aid (full ride) to make it logistically worth my while. So without further ado, another angsty junior high school blog post.

     Due to the fact that I'm not the most interested in college, since I've done enough research to know that most if not all game development programs in higher level education are a waste of time and money, yet the only viable solution where I could fill in some gaps in my education thus far. However most of the highest ranked and longest lasting game schools according to the Princeton review, are for profit, are possibly loosing their accreditation due to low employment rates, and the best most extensive programs make their graduates hate making games, and cause them to become depressive in debt indies.
     I've looked at almost all of the undergraduate and graduate schools with highly rated game development focused programs and honestly am not that impressed by their undergrad and graduate work. I've played the games, skimmed the dev logs, and honestly am already on their level because these programs may teach coding and art. However good design cannot be taught in a classroom, so they try to create in school masters studios, which is good however everything created there is intellectual property of the school and therefore cannot be re-purposed or sold. So when I look at those projects of what to expect myself to be capable of by going into thousands of dollars in debt I cringe for I know that with a fraction of the time they had to work on those in teams I can do myself better. It's not “being cocky” as my sister would say it if I actually have the work and track record to back myself up.
     I've questioned local grads, and many developers all over the CIGDA scenes (there's two separate groups for past drama). Reguardless the successful ones went into physics, math, computer science, philosophy, english… anything but games, hated it, then decided to spend a few years and teach themselves to make games by making games; it's that simple. As for the graduates of du's notorious program, the grad students I've met, seen work alongside me for 48 continuous hours and again I'm on their level.
     A degree in itself is useless in this field and won't separate you from another applicant, it's what you've worked on before, what your position was there, and who you know. It's a portfolio based business, so if you do good work, you get payed well and if you do mediocre work, you don't get payed well. Contracting work and freelance work is easy to come by and I get offers all the time over twitter for people who know nothing about games and just latch onto hopeful statistics about how profitable they are, so they want to become a producer and outsource the work to devs like me. However, I resent that and think that everyone in the industry without a love and longstanding appreciation for games as a form of expression and art can just leave. Also I'm in highschool and have my own projects.
     So the only two schools that even look remotely decent are university of Utah and the university of southern California. The university of Utah has a decent game engineering emphasis track that doesn't actually get to any game development courses until the second to third year of school which is in my opinion a huge waste of time. As for California, a big red flag is that they don't showcase their student's work, but on the other hand the fact that it's in LA alone is reason enough to go since that's where you can get a good triple AAA studio job or find yourself immersed in an amazing indie community and industry shows to showcase your work and make a name for yourself.

SO obviously a lot of thought has been put into researching, and of all my friends and peers I really do (pardon my language) have my shit together. Honestly I'd just really like to just take a gap year and a very much part time job at a game stop or something, and just 80's bedroom coder style spend a year or two on a project, put my heart and soul into it, then sell it, and hopefully become financially successful. If not I'll give in and go to college like my parents would like me to. At least my mom, my dad is a gamer himself and appreciates the level of my work enough to believe that I can actually become a self made man. Because that's what these schools want you to do, to start your own business, and go for it. So why spend four years and $100,000 on that advice?

P.S: I'm very open minded about college, but very realistic. This isn't Theatre, there aren't perfect schools, because most of them are too early in their infancy to even have a grasp at what exactly they are doing. So I'll just "keep plugging away" as my dad says, and hopefully I'll end up where I need to be.

Comments

  1. I think you're right on with your thinking. These questions are asked by anyone who wants to be a software developer. I'm 35 and most of the way through a Computer Science degree and wondering if this was the way to spend my time and money.

    The year of working on a project sounds like a good idea to me. Do that and go to game jams, hackathons, etc and talk with people and show your work. Good luck!

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