In an increasingly saturated video game programming market, how does a developer distinguish himself enough to stand out of the crowd? The Game Career Guide has recently published Michael McCoy’s feature on Academics for Game Designers, reflecting on 12 years in the computer industry as a game designer, and suggesting academic pursuits for a career jump start. Two word summary would be: “study everything”.
I’ve performed in the role of producer, game designer, systems designer, interface designer, level designer, scripter, writer, and even sound designer. Level designers must be competent game play designers, level builders, both model and texture artists, event and cinematic scripters, and extremely skilled researchers covering architecture, geography, historical time period, lighting and textures.
Michael, who landed the job of Lead Game Designer based on his knowledge of history, team/project management, and technical writing skills, is naturally of the wide variety of skills camp. He suggests getting into a game company via any open door (testing, customer service, sweeping the floors, etc.), and picking up every skill in reach, while simultaneously showing off learned abilities.
The article fails to distinguish between different available majors of study (personally I recommend a degree in Computer Science), but brings up an excellent point of the importance of elective courses. Some exceptionally useful courses are:
That last point is of a specialized application, but carries a very important idea – you have to be passionate and unique. I would also add programming or sketching, whichever one is not in your major. Well chosen elective courses could very well round you off into a better candidate.
One can have the best of both worlds by specializing in the area they are passionate about, and at the same time broaden the skill set with elective courses of interest. At the very least, it is a unique mix of knowledge to draw inspiration from (just think of Spore – that game draws from Biology, Astronomy, and many other fields). Any comments on more inspirational elective courses?