So what do you guys think of colleges that offer ‘game design’ as degree courses? A friend of mine joined ITT Tech for game design a couple of months ago and just recently quit, stating that he didn’t really learn much of anything in the way of actual game design or programming.
Do any of you know of anyone who’s gone to places like ITT Tech and landed jobs in an actual game development company, or is just a giant scam?
As far as I know, there are only really three “reputable” program dedicated to teaching game engineering: Digipen, Full Sail, and SMU Guildhall. The rest tend to be art institutes and “game studies” programs focusing mainly on sociology instead of engineering.
I have my doubts about Digipen’s reputability, as that’s where I came out of. Granted, I graduated from their original Canadian school, which they shut down in order to move to the states and become ‘accredited’, which I hope means they stopped giving degrees to anyone who paid all their tuition, because that’s what the one I went to did.
In fact, Digipen was blacklisted at a bunch of game companies in the late 90s, due to the students coming out of there not actually knowing how to program. I don’t know if that has changed.
I paid $20k tuition for a two year course which was a glorified C/C++ course that taught a lot of dead knowledge, and no actual design. Of course, this was the late 90s, there wasn’t much heavy emphasis on that kind of stuff yet anyway.
But really, what it comes down to is if you go to these places, don’t expect them to be magic. You still won’t get anywhere if you aren’t willing to do all the work yourself.
edit: As a follow up, I couldn’t get a job out of Digipen. Whether it was a lack of knowledge, or blacklisting of the school, I can’t say. I graduated with some of the highest marks in the school, and it still wasn’t enough to impress anyone in the game industry enough to get a real job straight up.
I got in to the game industry via Greg Zeschuk, whom I met while I was at Digipen and exchanged info. Apparently I made enough of an impression in person because when I sent him an impassioned email essentially begging for a job, he squeaked me in as a tester. Then from there I bulldozed my way in to programming within a month, and the rest is 9 years of history.
I’m a skeptic in general on these things. Most of the time, you’re better off modding or going indie as a way to learn than taking some formal program. However, there are a few schools that seem to actually add some value. In addition to the ones Alan mentioned (and for the record, I’m still pretty iffy on Full Sail in general and the Guildhall for non-FPS stuff), the Carnegie Mellon program and the one at USC both seem pretty good.
Mind you, I would never just hire a designer based on having a degree from one of these programs, but then again, one of the aspects of the good programs is that they make sure people have more than a resume when they graduate; USC forces them to start prototyping from week one.
We’ve still got a long way to go, but I think we’re finally starting to see some real progress.
I never realized you were a digipenner too, Charles.
I just thought i’d add that I had a much different experience from what you describe. My friends and I had a relatively easy time getting jobs straight out of DigiPen. Though we were all members of the four year bachelor’s degree, which had a much better core curriculum over the two year one, with lots and lots of math, some physics and other useful courses.
That being said, they do NOT teach design, you should go somewhere else for that. And like any other school, you’re going to get as much into it as you put out of it, I know of some guys who barely graduated and didn’t get jobs after, but overall the placement rate is pretty good for the four year program.
Accreditation was definitely a good thing, forced them to teach a little english to the kiddies, and put some better standards in overall.
I’ve met some smart guys from Full Sail, though they all have mixed feelings about their time there.
I have yet to meet anyone from any other game school that is a programmer.
You can get a design job with a degree from DigiPen, we have one at my company at the moment. I know thats contradictory, to what i said up above but having a good CS background is good for designers. Its more a warning that DigiPen is not a design school, your either going to be taught and tested on programming or art.
Oh, and i’m finding it rather crazy that some mainstream schools aren’t teaching C or C++ anymore, and just teaching Java.
Currently, we have a couple people from guildhall and a few from Digipen at work, we just recently interview a bunch of people from Carnegie Mellon.
Fullsail is actually a 2 years program, so don’t expect you have summer or winter vacation. 5 days a week, 8 hours classes with homework. It’s extremely strict, 1 missing day typically = fail in the classes even if you score perfect on the test.
It cost for me around 66k for the 2 years not including rent and stuff, but I think it’s great because sometime, teacher to student ratio is like 1-10 not counting 2-3 TA we have. I entered the course with 0 knowledge in C++ programming or any other type of programming.
Oh, I have no doubt that it’s a better program. Accreditation means that they have to actually make sure to teach stuff and do so properly. I have great stories like how instead of marking everyone’s assignments, one teacher would just grab one, mark it, and if that person passed, give everyone the same mark, assuming that everyone worked together to come to a common solution.
Yeah, digipen has improved quite a bit from what it seems your experience was.
They still have a good ways to go I think though. The coursework is very graphics heavy which is one of the reasons I dropped out a year ago(plus the fact I already had a job and some industry experience). It’s a pretty tough program now and most people who graduate seem to do well in game programming jobs, but they would do well in realizing that not everyone wants to be a graphics programmer.
Funny, i graduated HS in 97, and thought about going to Digipen straight away, but the parents convinced me Canada was too far away and too expensive, and got me to go to a local community college first.
So instead i farted around at a community college, not learning much, until DigiPen moved local to me, and it seemed crazy not to give it a try.
I could’ve been one of your classmates. Though from the sounds of it, i’m glad i wasn’t. (no offense)
Yeah it was the same shit in vancouver. When I left school I knew how to write a software 3d engine. Fat lot of good that did me, since the next year brought a ton of games that required hardware acceleration.
Everything I know about making games, I taught myself, and learned after I got a job.
Well, since I’m currently the director of the Interactive Media and Game Development program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, I think I know a couple of things about gaming programs (as we’ve been looking at other programs for the last 4 years.)
I wouldn’t recommend any ITT, Wentworth, or other 2 year certificate programs anywhere (including Fullsail and Digipen’s certificate program). Get a degree.
The Guildhall at SMU, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, and the MIT Media Lab are all great grad programs. They vary in how gaming-centric they are, but if you already have a bachelor’s and you want to get an advanced degree then I’d say check any of them out.
As for undergrad, we offer a 4-year BS so I may be a little biased. Programs are in full swing all over the country including the USC Gamepipe, RIT’s new game development program, Georgia Tech’s program, UC Santa Cruz, and even Savannah College of Art and other art colleges. Most of these programs are based out of the computer science department, and are mostly a CS curriculum with some game development courses added (usually 3 or 4). The other prospect is they’re an art college, so you get their visual art curriculum with some game-centric courses added (again, usually 3 or 4).
We’re offering an interdisciplinary program where you go on either a tech track or an art track. The programmers not only do normal CS stuff (everything from scheme to C++) but have to take some Art courses and work extensively in groups with art track students. The art track students have to take some CS courses and work with the programmers. WPI has been doing project-based learning since the late 60’s, so it’s something we’re good at. Students start their very first class in the Game Development Process working in a group of 5 to bring a simple game from concept to prototype. I just finished my Interactive Storytelling class where each section of 25 students made a single game (an alternate reality game) for the other section to play (and vice versa). Not only do they get to apply basic design principles to making a game without getting bogged down in the programming and art, but they learn project management to keep all 25 on task and reduce bottlenecks.
Okay, that’s sounding like marketing-speak, but I helped design the program and I think it’s pretty good. This was our third year, so next year is our first big crop of seniors and we’ll have a better grasp on how many are getting jobs in the industry or elsewhere.