The Australian has published an article, expressing a concern at rush to study for degrees in computer games. You know there are problems when academics are “terrified” over the popularity of their own courses, which is just the case with Queensland University of Technology’s Bachelor of Games and Interactive Entertainment.
The head of the campus’s IT faculty fears students have been misled by a catchy course title.
“One of our terrible fears is that we’re going to have this cohort of students who imagine that they’re going to be allowed to play games 50 hours a week for three years and then be handed a degree,” the dean of information technology, Simon Kaplan, said.
There are quite a few reasons to not get a video gaming degree. (Some of the points are supplemented with comments from the Digg discussion of the article.)
It’s true. Video games at University are no more about playing games, than Mechanical Engineering is about riding a bike. 50 hours a week of gaming is a full-time QA job – the lowest entry point of the industry.
“If you dont understand what game design involves, you shouldn’t enroll for courses. Not saying you need to know the programming or anything, but just understanding that it does involve alot of hard work, programming, art work etc. (depending on what position you want to work on)”
More than 700 people applied for the 163 places on the QUT degree, which added to a growing list of computer games courses on offer from universities. This year recorded its highest growth in first preferences for a BA in games and interactivity, increasing by 128 per cent.
It is going to be artificially difficult and expensive. Make sure this is what you want to pursue.
“I got a Game Dev degree and I work in the industry. But I didn’t just jump into it, I spent a year and a half as a regular code monkey. You have to have a passion for the hard work that goes into creating a game. Its not just a walk in the park. Its just as hard as a regular Comp-Sci degree except you spend a lot of time working with more specific libraries and technologies. When I started my degree there were over 100 when I walked the stage there were only 5 left. People need to stop and research these careers before they go to school for them. That would definitely reduce the amount of time wasted in college trying to decide on a major.
It seems that the academics are a step behind the industry, and are now doing things backwards.
Companies have gone from employing five staff five years ago to employing up to 70 or 80 people.
Five years ago, a degree in “Games and Interactive Entertainment” would give you a broad skill set, making you the star of a five person team. You can program, you can draw, you can animate and write a compelling story. Amazing! The problem is that today, a 80 person team means that there are 20 specialists for each one of your four available skills. Suddently you’ll realize that a “games” degree doesn’t offer as much media experience as an Arts Degree, and you haven’t learned as much about computer programming as you would have in Computer Science.
This makes for a tricky situation: you will be the best suited candidate, until a project team is sufficiently large to have a dedicated position for each aspect of game development. Now the appeal of a video game degree is rapidly deteriorating. The critical point is somewhere just above the low-budget games.
“Here at UCSC, they introduced game design as a major this year. Comparing the requirements to a computer science degree shows some major flaws in the Game degree. The game degree requires many courses outside of the discipline such as theater and art, which is good. However, it does this at the cost of core classes in math and algorithms. Classes such as vector calculus and discreet math, as well as algorithms and hardware. The classes remain a part of the degree, but move to optional. With the courses required, one really doesn’t seem to be that qualified for a real programming job.”
A video game degree could actually place you in an excellent position if there is enough flexibility, you know exactly what you are doing, and with a bit of luck. The above mentioned 80 person team means that there are 80 highly specialized positions to fill – AI programmer, Physics engine programmer, Special effects, Animation, Art. It is a fine gradient of opportunities between technical and artistic fields. Taking the right courses and options during the video game education will land you in that sweet spot right in between. The key point to realize here is that you will be aiming for a very specialized position, with perhaps one opening per large, commercial project.
Personally, I would just go for Computer Science. Thoughts? Leave a comment!