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Game Design Courses and potential employment.
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Fost
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:24 pm    Post subject: Game Design Courses and potential employment. Reply with quote

The second you start a games company (even a little one like ours!), university students start emailing you asking for a work placement. Sadly, even if they wouldn't mind working under the boiler in the corner of the room, it's not legal to employ someone in such a situation. Smile

It's understandable why everone is desperate for placements. Game studios always want people with some experience, and despite the fact that there's more game dev related courses than ever, and the studios are desperate for staff, only a small percentage of the get placements, and a smaller percentage get jobs.

So, one thing that I've started to notice - everyone applying of late seems to be on a 'Game Design' course. I didn't really know what that meant (I had visions of people discussing the philophy of gameplay whilst drinking cappucinos) so I looked into all the various courses. They all seem to be a 3 year amalgam of game design theory (game, not code design), programming in various languages, art content creation and e-commerce coding.

Now, if you are targetting the mainstream games industry, this course seems like the wrong thing to be doing to me. For a start: what do you want to be? a programmer, or an artist? Potential employers have gaps there that they need to fill, and they don't want to bring you to interview just to find that out. I'd strongly advise deciding that before applying for a job, as you'll likely be seen as a master of neither of those trades competing with people who have specialised in one.

Next: potentially you want to be a game designer? Well, the odd thing here, is that there are no game designer jobs. At least, not for people who've just left university. My experience might be unique and/or UK-centric, but all the game designers I've ever known have either worked their way into that position from somewhere else, or have come from another company with a cv of games design work from finished games.

I would think, that the best think you could do to get in the game dev business, is decide if you want to be a programmer or an artist. Then do a course that specialises in that, and build up a portfolio of relevant work. If you want to be a game designer, then this course might be useful, but you should probably expect to have to work your way up from another job within the industry.

Of course, I might be talking rubbish - I'd be interested to hear from anyone off such a course to know how they've faired.

Oddly enough, that type of course might be useful though if you wanted to bypass mainstream all together and go straight into indie work - although I'd have thought most graduates wouldn't be in a financial position to cope.
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Weeble
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Joined: 25 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gah. You picked a bad day to post this. I want to talk about this lots, but I will be very busy for more than a week, and may just forget about it altogether. My MSc (which I took about half-way and left with a post-graduate diploma before doing the dissertation that would have made it an MSc) was somewhat like that. I'll try and remember to come back to this in a bit...
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Fost
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weeble wrote:
I'll try and remember to come back to this in a bit...


Hope you get the chance - it's been bugging me for a while, and I wondered if this was just how the 'new wave' operated.
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Joined: 15 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I putter around the local job sites every once in a while so I can laugh at how underqualified I am for any job they seem to be offering. Generally if you want a game designer's job(only EA and the biggies offer these) they want an inordinate amount of experience and products shipped. Hell, half the entry level jobs related to programming around here demand that you have at least one product shipped. Theres no such thing as an entry level game designer.
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Hamish
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Joined: 15 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Game design schools seem to be taking advantage of the fact that everyone thinks making games is awesome, so they can get away with having a course which sounds fun but really doesn't do much to actually get you a job. They even have one of them here in New Zealand, when there are approximately one established game companies you could work for here.
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Sorrow



Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 146
Location: Australia



PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Im not that surpsied, the real question for me is, Is it possible to teach joe cheesecake how to create original designs? lol.

the more you limit yourself by this "theory" the smaller the possible outcome of ideas can be, if they wanted to learn what is POSSIBLE and what isnt, it would be better to learn pure programming or art as fost said.

Supose thats my biggest grudge aganst it all. that and i am wanting to be a games designer one day and the idea of competing aganst Joe cheesecake whos only credential, a peice of paper is rather daunting :p [Experince vrs paper? hmmm... i hope i win :S]

3 years to learn how to come up with game ideas? ouch ouch ouch.

And Hamish sounds spot on there aswell lol Very Happy
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Hamish
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Game design in its purest form is just thinking and communicating your ideas to other people. This in itself is not difficult, alot of people can and do think of game ideas without any special training. Anyone can write out a game idea which, to other game design noobs, looks great.

School mostly teaches you facts (I might be biast, I failed high school and college) this is good for learning to program, learning to use art tools and learning the basics of how everything works. But I don't think school is the best place to learn to do something like game design. Learning to design a good game requires lots of experience actually designing and finishing games, which is something that takes years and years and can be simulated in the school environment but isn't quite the same as doing it in RL. I think any employer who knows what they're doing is going to value how many successful designs you have rather than your Degree in Game Design.
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Chibi



Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Posts: 271
Location: Denver, CO, United States



PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Game Design Courses and potential employment. Reply with quote

Fost wrote:
For a start: what do you want to be? a programmer, or an artist? Potential employers have gaps there that they need to fill, and they don't want to bring you to interview just to find that out.


Herein lies the problem. Many of the games that small game companies desire to create are usually going to be Sprite- or 3d Model-based rather than vector-based, therefore these companies (The smaller ones at least) are slowed and even hindered by lack of graphical talent. I figure that the universities' use "Game Designer" is a catchall phrase for people who have a wealth of talent in drawing graphics/textures in different animation styles, or creating 3d models, and possibly know a coding language or two.

That's just my two pennies.
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