#1 Posted by Lydian_Sel (2501 posts) -

As I write this I am weeks away from finishing a course in Interactive and Digital Game Design in Sydney and for the past few months I have been obsessively thinking about what comes next. Having looked at a number of schools offering courses it seems like I will be forced to make a split between a focus on Programming or a focus on Art/Animation, many of these courses are long and very expensive.

I am also mindful that many developers and people in the gaming press say that the best way to get a job is just to make games. So if I have to make a decision between programming or art regardless of where I study I've been wondering whether it is worth it to enroll in 3 year course that will build an in depth skillset or take a shorter course and work on game projects in my off time?

If anyone could throw me some advice I would be greatly appreciative!

#2 Edited by CommanderGermanShepard (303 posts) -

If graphic design courses are anything to go by, it is one of the most over populated industry's in the world. Usually the more boring choice is the one that pays off in the long run.

#3 Edited by Ossi (1229 posts) -

Before I tell you a little story and my advice just know that I personally prefer to work on my own or with a small team and my goals are for independent game development. If yours are different then adjust my advice to your own personal situation.

I took a Digital Media and IT course twice, first two years I did web design / 3D modeling and animation and the second run of it was mostly programming (C#, XNA, Unity3D) / math classes and a game design class, a total of 4 years. Now this is more of a personal opinion about going through school to get your game dev experience, but depending on your institution it's usually not that great to go for game development specifically. I believe that the main reason you should go for these kinds of courses is if you want connections. Yes, you do get some book knowledge experience in these fields but unless your school is really focused on it you may not find the path you're looking for, or feel confident going into the industry when you complete these courses.

My advice to you would be to figure out which side of game development you can learn on your own. Go to youtube or search on google for free online courses, tutorials, or articles about the subjects you are interested in. Try to see if that kind of workflow and teaching method is easy to follow and when you feel confident with that learning process the opposite is where you should continue your education. Let me give you an example. A couple months before I started my third year ( second run at my Digital Media courses ) I was learning on my own how to program in C#. It was in the form of online video "courses" and I basically went through the basic usage and understanding of the C# language. At the time I found it very challenging but looking back at it now I realized it was actually much easier. By the time my classes started I was already starting to create basic games in XNA and the first couple of classes were a breeze ( also took them four times as long to teach me the same content I learned on my own).

So now you have to ask yourself three questions. One, which is easier to learn on your own. Two, which of the two are you willing to focus the majority of your time on OUTSIDE of class and for the foreseeable future. Three, do you plan to work by yourself or with a small team that you find ( independent ), or do you want to be hired by/apply to a company for work. And as you and others have said, make as many games as you can as fast as you can and finish them, if you choose art then CONCEPT games - it still counts. It's not easy to do a lot of the time especially if you work by yourself but it'll give you the best kind of experience that no school or "tech demo" like project will.

I hope that helps you decide, GOOD LUCK! :D

#4 Posted by troll93 (388 posts) -

Well, for what it is worth, I am currently studying civil engineering with a guy who did a 4 year bachelor's in game design with a major in programing, and he said that he couldn't find any work. Now, he was doing this right in the middle of the GFC and up in Brisbane, hardly the game hub of australia, but hey, passing on what I know.

Also, It might be worth trying to find a Engineers Australia Software Engineering expo near your place. They are more focused on software development rather than game development, but it imagine that the skills are requirements are rather transferable. They are normally like $20 for entry and you get to meet a whole bunch of people.

#5 Posted by Lydian_Sel (2501 posts) -

Thanks for the wise words folks! I've been asking as many people for feedback as humanly possible and it's great to know that Giantbomb still has my back.

#6 Edited by TyCobb (1975 posts) -

All depends on what you like doing more and what you have a bigger knack for.

I can tell you that if you want to make great money, focus more on business applications rather than games. Now, if game development is a passion of yours then of course strive for that.

If business apps intrigue you, understanding several programming languages is extremely beneficial and opens up even more job opportunities down the road. Not to mention that knowing old/legacy languages really pays off later. There will always be really old software that needs to be maintained or ported. And the older the language, the harder it is to find a programmer for it (C++ and C are excluded from this).

Like I said, you should do what your true passion is and what you are good at. If art is your thing, then do it. It's really up to you. If you want me to tell you which one to choose, I would tell you to do programming if you have the mind for it and tell you to ignore games and focus on business apps whether it be form based or web based. Nothing stops you from making games in your spare time.

#7 Edited by EVO (3941 posts) -

I'm studying games design in Melbourne. From what I can tell programming is the highest demand position in the industry. If you wanna get your foot in the door, I'd suggest becoming active in the IGDA, taking part in game jams, or just making a game with or without help from your classmates.

As for Aussie devs, there's heaps.

#8 Edited by AlexRudz (45 posts) -

I work a great deal with audio, if anyone wants to float ideas for sound design or even game music, send me a PM on the site.

#9 Edited by Rowr (5824 posts) -

You should probably just do whatever the fuck you enjoy and things will probably work out for the best.

I spent a lot of time when i was younger worrying and agonizing that i was going in the right direction, but really it all becomes less and less relevant the older you become. Do what you enjoy and if you are good at it you will forge ahead in some aspect. You also won't waste precious years of your life accidentally chasing a direction that ultimately gets you somewhere that you don't care for anyway - likely you will be halfway into what you prepared for and realise it's not what you want to do anyway and change completely to something else. When you look back at that time you will instead remember being happy doing what you want to.

Just keep an eye on where you are at - at all times and make your decision based on whether it is worth the experience you are getting or the financial security to allow you the leisure of focusing on your goals in the future.

#10 Posted by Sinusoidal (1810 posts) -

If you want to work in the industry, you have to make yourself stand out, regardless of what you've studied. A friend of mine was a drama major in university and messed around with games on the side. He recently landed a job with Rovio in Finland purely on the merits of his personal projects (as far as I can tell, I'm a bit out of touch.)

Cripes, look at me. I've got degrees in physics and music and I'm an English teacher in Korea who composes, programs and does 3D modeling, though I only earn money for the teaching bit.