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Article - 'Getting Into the Industry, a Guide' by Bondo

An item about Game Design posted on Aug 9, 2003


Bondo's well informed article on pursuing a career in game design!


Getting Into the Industry, a Guide

Through observation, I¡¯ve noticed that a striking number of people who are just finishing high school don¡¯t know what they want to do. Most of them end up going to community colleges, they then drop out and work as pathetic pickers of rubbish for a living. I don¡¯t like to see this to happen to people. I especially don¡¯t like to see this happen to gamers.

The majority of all gamers see a job in the gaming industry as an impossible dream job. ¡°Play games for a living and get paid for it? Yeah right!¡± They say. But the gaming industry is continually growing. It now makes more money in total than the amount sold in all movie tickets combined. Colleges everywhere are now offering degrees in game creation, which brings me to my point.

So you wanna get into the gaming industry huh. Well, it¡¯ll take some effort, but it¡¯s not as impossible as one might think. Your first, and best bet would be to get into a four year university and get a computer science degree. With this you could get into just about every branch of game design, with an emphasis on programming. But most people aren¡¯t the type who could do the whole university thing. For them, there is actually a very nice choice of technical colleges offering exclusive Bachelors or Associates degrees in various fields of game design.

I¡¯m currently attending the Art Institute of California in San Francisco. There are two different degrees here for the budding game designer, game art/design, and visual game programming. The game art/design (which I will from now on refer to as GAD.) is for someone who is more right brained than anything else. They are the ones who will be designing levels and characters, and making storyboards. Visual game programming (VGP.) is for the programmer. The type that doesn¡¯t mind sitting in front of thousands of lines of indecipherable code for hours on end.

Most of these degrees last anywhere from two to four years. GAD and VGP are for bachelors degrees, and last about 3 years. Most companies look for people with bachelors degrees to hire for entry level positions. You¡¯re going to have a hard time with just an associates degree.

There are a number of different places you can go for such a degree. Other than the Art Institute, you might try Digipen in Redmond, Washington. This college actually shares a parking lot with Nintendo of America. The Art Institute has multiple chapters, including one in Los Angeles, and Chicago. I¡¯m not too sure about colleges in other countries, such as Britan, or Canada.

A degree is great, but it only gets you through the door. To actually nail a job, you¡¯ll need a decent portfolio. Once you finally get an interview, all your hard work and dedication boils down to how good your portfolio is.

When making your portfolio, go for quality, not content. Five pieces of fantastic, professional art give you a lot better chance than 150 scribbles with bent corners. It¡¯s also a good idea to make a demo tape or CD showing off all your crazy animation and design skills.

If this didn¡¯t convince you to pursue a lucrative career in game design, I don¡¯t know what will. Let me just warn you that once you do, expect to be putting in 18 hour days, sleeping in a cubicle under your desk, and getting malnourished as all you will have to eat is Mtn. Dew and Peanut M&Ms. This is Bondo, signing off.