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Need advice on good schools for game design...

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My daughter is interested in going to college. She wants to learn character design and level design for games. I am just a novist designer for cg animation. I would like advice from people in the biz. (I'm going to teach her what I can. She's already getting better than me. I feel like Yoda in "Return of the Jedi".)

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I'm not sure there is such a thing as a good school for it.

 

There are lots of schools out there offering game degrees and stuff but they have bad reputations as very expensive diploma mills.

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Thanks for that. I went to one. I did everything too fast, and wasn't ready when I graduated. I just want her to not do what I did. But I have faith that she is going to b alright. I did all I can do for now.

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I highly recommend she get a traditional degree, AA, AS, BA, BS in fine art. Teens don't want to hear that but in all honestly drawing, painting and sculpting are core concepts that carry over to every other branch of design including concept, character, and game design. She should go to a local junior college and get all her core classes out of the way and major in fine art with a heavy emphasis on drawing especially if she has never picked up a pencil before. It will save her a lot of time and aggravation and money. She should then look at industrial design.

 

I also recommend she watch every ZFD Feng Zhu Design Cinema. He is a very successful designer for AAA games titles and film (you might be familiar with Star Wars episodes 1-3.)

 

That being said here are some schools with excellent reputations with degrees in design.

 

In no specific order.

 

SCAD, Savanah College of Art and Design.

 

RISD, Rhode Island School of Design.

 

FZD Feng Zhu Shcool of Design. (Over seas)

 

Gnomon Workshop.

 

Art Center of Pasadena.

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I agree with Keith.

 

Ringling is another school in FL(Sarasota) with a pretty solid output of work.

 

***I also think that the net has made learning and opportunities much more obtainable without

forking out the big bucks just to have a piece of paper on the wall. The industry would rather

see talent than a piece of paper. And they'd rather see enthusiasm and a passion for what they are doing.

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Not to mention going to a community college first then on to a four year will save you more money than you can imagine. Having put two kids and two adults through school, one a private 4 year fine arts degree, and my youngest through school now, tuition is going to kill ya.

 

A good AA or BA will take a kid further than anything else right now, since it is the most versatile. A fine arts degree says "I can draw/paint/sculpt", a game design degree says "I can design a game", a general AA/BA/AS/BS says "I had the discipline and knowledge to learn the basics, now I'm ready to learn your business"

 

Employers will look at that, coupled with real world experience over anything else.

 

And every HS kid (yours included, cause mine did) will say "bunk!" to that. My oldest spent four years "learning how to paint", cost me over $80,000 in tuition (which I am still paying), and the day she graduated told me "I got nothing out of the last four years". She is now a teacher in a pre-school.

 

Worked with a bloke who went to Syracuse University for graphics design. Very talented. He told me he could have learned the same thing drawing in his mother's basement for the same four years.

 

Sad to say, but a specialized education, in many cases cost far more than its worth, and provides the student little to no return on the investment.

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Based on my personal experience, I'd advise anyone against studying art unless you're already independently wealthy.

You're better off getting a degree in something marketable and then minoring in the arts or pursuing it on your own time.

Plus, no one will ever say "and hey, if that medical school thing doesn't work out, at least you'll have a nice hobby!".

 

And definitely think about the local CC for the first 2 years. It's amazing the difference in cost. No sense paying $400/credit hour (or more!!) for Speech 101 when you can take it at the CC for $40/credit.

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Roger makes an excellent point Rich. Your daughter should either try a double major or a major and minor. Like business administration and or finance. Working at a studio, or any company frankly, is all about operations and finance. Again not something that teens can really grasp as sexy, glamorous or fun but absolutely necessary.

 

All the best to you and your family,

 

Keith

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A rather timely article...

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/katiasavchuk/2015/08/19/black-arts-the-800-million-family-selling-art-degrees-and-false-hopes/

 

Bottom line: There are a lot of folks that will be glad to take your money... and go out of their way to help you get a loan... so you can give them more money.

 

 

As has been mentioned, a good degree can get a foot in the door and help someone network with others to parlay that into a rewarding job.

If that degree will help ground the artist into the business side of art so much the better.

As such, I'd recommend classes in business, marketing, economics, etc.

 

From a personal side I'd suggest getting familiar with programming languages as well. This to ground the artist in with where the art will very likely be applied. While programming isn't for everyone, having a good grasp of the basics will help when communicating with those who'll make those game designs fly. If a local community college offers an introductory programming class that focuses on gaming that may be an ideal introduction. "Programming Games with Python" is one that has been gaining popularity. The emphasis there of course will be on programming so complement that with targeted online studies (using free resources where possible).

 

Best of everything to you and your daughter.

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The value of the so-called "game design" schools are mostly hit or miss in terms of quality. Not just from school to school but semester to semester depending on who happens to be teaching (there's often a very high turnover rate) and the dedication and enthusiasm of the other students. The degree you exit with doesn't really have a lot of value other than it showing prospective employers that you can commit to and finish something you started. Students will typically come out of the program with some sort of finished class project and your contribution to it can be very beneficial if it's done well but it can also be a double-edged sword if you have classmates who are not as dedicated as you are. Group projects tend to only be as strong as their weakest link. Read books, get involved with online communities. The best way to show you can make games is to... make games. Simple puzzle and logic games are a great start, board games, card games, pen and paper RPGs, things like that. Good game design can be demonstrated in any media; some of the best designers I know started with or continue making non-digital games. Getting involved with the modding communities is a great next step. Modding an existing game lets you focus on the flow of design without having to worry about things like art and programming (although at least some basic knowledge of scripting languages can be very helpful and useful).

 

Good luck to your daughter. The industry needs more women.

 

All the best,

  • ____ 1

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I would also suggest classes that support entrepreneurship. The days of being able to work at a single company until you retire are long gone.

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Just noticed this free Lynda.com video (Insights with a Game designer Brenda Romero), which might be interesting for your daughter to watch.

 

I have not watched it, so it may or may not be relevant. An excerpt from their blurb

 

There isn't a time Brenda Romero doesn't remember working on games. She began tinkering on her own at age 5, and was employed full time at 15. Now she's an award-winning game designer, artist, writer, and creative director, and the longest continuously serving woman in the video game industry. In this Insights interview, we ask Brenda to look back on her career and answer the questions aspiring game designers really want to know. Do you need to code to build games? What is the impact of independent developers on traditional gaming? How does mobile affect game design?

Combining inspiration and hard-won advice, this course shows there is more than one way to approach game design and break into the industry.

 

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Thanks for that link Nancy... that's a great interview. (Haven't watched it all yet but playing through now)

In about the 5th episode she says the important thing, "the easiest way to learn to make games is to make games."

Then she goes on to add even deeper insight.

 

This aspect is a reason why game design courses yield success. The students enrolled create games. And in the process learn.

 

She likens the process to cooking. The way to tell whether your recipe will be a tasty meal is to put it together, place it on the stove, cook it and then taste it (or better yet... have some other folks taste it).

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I'm not a game player but the college I'm studying at does have a game design course at BA level which seems to produce good quality results. It is ( obviously ) in the UK, although such an option might be less expensive than the US equivalent ? UK fees are about £9,000 per year ( about $15,000 ) for UK students , overseas students may be more. The courses are usually of three years duration. There are several courses around the country andI think there are several in Europe too that might be worth a look?

 

I found this on the BBC web site today. Perhaps of interest?

simon

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-33906050

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I'll recommend that if travel and attendance is obtainable your daughter attend an event like this:

 

http://www.creativemasterminds.com/

 

The event itself won't be entirely adequate (it's not a long term thing like diving into college) but will orient the mind and get her connecting with other creative types with similar interests.

I'd call it a 'primer of the pump' which is often required to get the full flow in motion (successful understanding and achievement of realistic goals).

 

Events like this, especially if they can be found locally can help orient a person and help them achieve realistic goals.

The biggest expense is usually not the course/event itself but the transportation and lodging required to attend. As such finding a 'local' event is optimal.

I once attended a week long animation course with Don Bluth. The course itself was worth the price of admission but the travel from Japan to Arizona made the event entirely too expensive.

The grounding of expectations... that was worth every penny and more.

 

There is another aspect of this that is important... besides in any course there are (at least) two tiers of people we learn from. While we will learn a lot from whomever instructs a course it is very likely that we will learn even more by interacting with other students. This is especially important to note if one considers that those students will often be the instructors (and peers) of the future.

 

I'm a little impressed that prices of admission for events like this are in the $150 range (low end access). The downside of reality is that the underlying theme is one of 'money grants access'.

While understandable... the speakers/event have to be paid for... this is always most unfortunate.

The lack of financial means (i.e. money) is always going to leave key people (the yous and the mes) out in the cold.

 

There are tons of events like this being run and more and more appear every day because there is growing interest in our media-centric world.

 

 

Added: **Events like this are often attended by folks that have spent a whole lot of money and time attending colleges and courses that you (the student) can and more likely than not should avoid. ;)

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I think she would be better off using A:M to enhance her interest in another career path. Like entymology, there is a big shortage of skeletal layouts for every insect known to mankind. Anything but thinking a college is going to teach her any more than can be learned at will with free tutorials, advice, etc.

Game programming, etc. has taken a turn towards mobile devices or Xbox/PlayStation. You do not need to go to a college or university to learn how to develop for these "systems". If you do a little research, you'll find all the information you need on the world wide web.

 

If she's going to pursue a college degree, use it in a way that gives her a career path that is in demand in the "real world". It will never take away from her interest in 'computer painting' (I just coined that...Boom!), but she could find herself very upset with life in the future trying to pursue a phantom industry, possibly getting lucking to land a job with a sign company utilizing Adobe Suite.

 

I think my comments reflect what others were saying. It's also very hard to tell someone the reality behind their dream. I'm 43 and I still get excited about things that I think are going to make me [a way to be financially independent], but they are usually a dead-end from the start. And nobody can tell me I'm wrong. The concept of just finding a career in the game industry is worse in my opinion, because I don't believe it is actually there.

 

Again, the tools to pursue her goals are basically free or available at low cost to pursue. A career would be better directed toward things you find in your everyday life (doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, etc.) and... wait... (cashiers, stockers, mechanics{should be in the upper category, sorry}, nurses...), and such.

 

Best wishes to your daughter's future. I've noticed in my experience that having some artistic 'crap' and programming 'crap' work very well in interviews for jobs that are unrelated to the ""industry. Breaks the ice, and makes you look like someone that might be more interesting to work with. But it will end there... at the interview. Find that job, and pursue your artistic goal on your own time.

 

If she likes football, she could model a football helmet, then use a variety of decals, then try to sell it (without the choke hold of working for a company, in which case the idea, design, and material would belong to them).

 

etc.

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