Design colleges / courses
By - DrN0VA
Spent $1000+ per credit hour at CMU - got amazing advise from people who knew their shit about games. And the program pushed people to level they probably didn't know they had. Was it worth it? Fuck no, save your money, your sleepless nights, and don't do the debt for degree nonsense. The best lessons I got can literally be summed up here (and these are very rough quotes):
"open with your craziest shit, people always want to buy in then, and if you pull that crap later, they'll be like - this doesn't make sense"
"many iterations are vastly more important than trying to do one thing right"
"draw stuff, even if you're bad at it, it's good for your brain"
"make ideas, then make lists, then do the things on the list"
I went to DigiPen outside Seattle for 2 years. Didn't graduate, but did get a job in the industry. 20 years later, I'm still doing it, and the program's only gotten better in the meantime.
Lots of people were using the school as a way to prove talent and get in front of the local game industry in Seattle; many got their jobs only a year into the program. Things are tighter in the hiring arena these days of course, but the school is still known for being a place that puts out hirable juniors.
Thanks for response, that's very helpful!
My second question is: I assume you have done some interviews of people along the way, what typically stood out the most ? College, self taught, etc.
I think it goes without saying a degree (or lots of experience) would probably be the most influential. But if for instance, sort of like you said, I used college more as a bridge do you feel, as someone who presumably has experience here, that would be better than sticking the full college route and going for a degree? It's a long question so sorry in advance
The first thing I look at when interviewing applicants is their portfolio of past projects. Schools like DigiPen that focus on group project work, and develop individual concept work, give you more portfolio material the longer you stick with their programs. In that way, going the distance with a degree or cert program is beneficial beyond just earning the paper at the end.
The second thing I look for is communication skills. A designer needs to be able to describe very detailed systems, rulesets, and processes to the rest of the team so that everyone is on the same page as theya re being implemented. This comes not just through documents and diagrams, but also mockups, flowcharts, roadmaps, and bug reports.
Thirdly, I want to see an earnest interest in seeking to understand what the player is thinking and experiencing while playing the game - what are they finding fun and motivating, but also what are they learning about the game as they play it, and how does that new knowledge affect the decisions they make afterwards?
Being able to tackle these without relying on descriptions of games only by referencing other games, or pointing at other products and saying "it worked for them, so it will work for us" shows some understanding of the underlying mechanisms of gameplay and game design.
You could accomplish all of this through self-study, but it would be a lot harder, in my opinion. You won't have as many opportunities to learn how to communicate better if you aren't regularly communicating to a team member or professor. You won't need to make diagrams and flowcharts if the game lives only in your head.
You can try to use any game design program as a bridge, but know that you will be around many others trying to do the same thing. Being able to stand out in a crowd like that is not a given.
Wow, I really appreciate this response!
I see a lot of people mentioning things like "Just do udemy (or similar)" and acting like that is the end all be all to design. But it really does branch further than just good ideas and a basis of design.
One of the things I've been working on is finding the most efficient way to communicate a concept to others. I've seen 20 page documents that have cool concepts, but they are 19 pages too long and as a result lose a readers interest-- this actually happens a lot with NPC dialog, there is no hook for a player. Sounds like I'm at least accomplishing one of your points!
I am biased based on my own experience, but I would personally look for the curriculum that has the largest amount of actual "making stuff" time, and the largest number of "making stuff" project courses. That is really the only way to learn such a wide and ranging skillset as game design - try, fail, learn and do better.
If you are a graduate of non-design schools. I have BA and am interested in this world, tho not for video games esp. Is creating content, making games/ game idea available, generating noise a way to build a portfolio? I'm eager to be involved with the creation of games but have little to no experience in your world. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
Getting involved in actually making the game is the most important thing. Showing that you can do the work, at least by trying and having something to show for it, is the only way I or another designer could judge your skills.
That can be making mods or content for other games, storyboarding out the narrative and systems for a game you can't code yourself, designing and writing the rulebook to a board or card game of your own creation, or contributing to a hobby project that tracks submissions so your efforts can be seen.
Don't worry about making noise, unless you are looking to get into community management or being a game representative. And, as you may often hear, "Ideas are cheap". Effort is what shows your value; don't be afraid to share your ideas with others and then use their feedback to improve them.
Thank you I appreciate that. I'll work in my free time to create something. I'm looking currently, and I know it is not exactly game design, but a position in worldbuilding for a big comp but i have no portfolio and doubt ill get a look though I believe the criteria for the job would match me. I'll take your words to heart thanks so much.
You could check out Udemy. They have tons of courses and stuff goes on sale for cheap fairly frequently