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College or self taught

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by CydoEntis, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. CydoEntis

    CydoEntis

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    Hey everyone, I'm 24 yrs old now currently work in HVAC and I find myself always thinking do I really want to do this forever or should I go to college and learn game development. I see all these videos on being self taught or making indie games etc but is tha the way to go? Should I continue learning on my own in my free time and hope one day someone will hire me or should I go to college and get a degree to make myself more hirable. Should i get a cs degree or a game design degree. Honestly I'm just lost atm. Kind of feel empty inside like something is missing from my life
     
  2. Aiursrage2k

    Aiursrage2k

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    Well I think you should go to college and get a CS degree it will give you more options in the future.
     
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  3. Martin_H

    Martin_H

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    I haven't read it myself, but this book recommendation sounds like something that I wish I had 12 years ago when I was choosing my career.

    If the timestamp doesn't work, skip ahead to 1:21.

     
  4. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    If you're not positive if this is for you then the best choice is to start game development on your own time before making a big commitment. Start by going through the Unity Learn section then make your own games from scratch starting with simple games with one mechanic and progressively getting more complex.

    Regardless of whether you choose to go to college or not though, you'll want to spend some of your free time on game development because the people who will be your primary competition for jobs who have taken the course will have spent some of their free time learning more on the subject.

    Generally a CS degree is recommended as a fallback in case you can't find a job in game development.
     
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  5. Rasly2

    Rasly2

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    college! Don't get it wrong tho you can learn by yourself but in college you will be able to meet new people
    that have same interests and that is the only place for that beside school.
     
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  6. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    There are probably lots of benefits to going to college, but because that is a big commitment and cost money, I'd suggest working on game development as a hobby for a while. Like, a year or more. There is so much you can learn for free online, you'd be giving yourself a leg up if you decide to go to college later on. And with forums like this and some others you pretty much have an on call tutor for just about any issue.

    Me, personally, I think college is sometimes a waste of time. Most of the time it's go way to slowly and you'll probably have to take a bunch of general education courses -- and pay for them of course. Of course, like others mentioned, there are lots of benefits too, namely networking.

    Also, I've seen work from people who've graduated from schools like Gnomon. It's not better than plenty of self-taught people have accomplished in less time.

    I imagine learning the ropes through college might be a gentler path in some ways. Self learning involves a lot of hair pulling, troubleshooting, and sometimes feeling downright lost. But I think in the end that might make one into a better game developer -- that is a better problem solver.
     
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  7. FMark92

    FMark92

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    My comp.tech. college was a fornicating jest. I got to 'where I am' and 'what I can do' with highschool ed.
     
  8. ikazrima

    ikazrima

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    I took CS degree and in parallel taught myself game dev through books/internet.
    As others have mentioned that degree acts as a fail safe, I'm out temporarily from working with games and now focusing on enterprise apps (while daydreaming about what games to make). It's a nice change of pace to have.
     
  9. grimunk

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    You can do anything you want if you are driven. I don't think you necessarily need to go to school as long as you can learn on your own. The information is out there, you just have to be motivated enough to take advantage of it.

    There is a lot of really good info out there now. I would suggest learning a little bit of C# outside of Unity. Write a few simple programs that are slightly more complex than 'hello world'. Maybe even try making a very simple, short, text-based game and 'ship it' - get it out there somehow, maybe a web download. If you manage that, you will have done more than many other game developers out there.

    The next thing to do would be to pick up an engine and start working with it. If you are using C#, Unity is a good choice. Go through the tutorials to learn the tool, then design another simple game, something you can complete quickly. You'll want to finish this one - put some graphics in it, some sounds. It doesn't have to be super-fun, you just have to get it working and ship it again. Get your friends or family to play it, see if you can elicit from honest feedback.

    If you can manage the above, I think you are well on your way. Expect to try things and fail. Try to fail fast and keep iterating. This is a tough industry, with lots of competition, but is quite rewarding for those who participate. Sometimes it is quite lucrative.
     
  10. openimac

    openimac

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    Don't quit HVAC job. Just make simulator HVAC game on unity as hobby. Quitting your job and making game with zero experience - you can lose your income, life, etc.

    1. it's hard to get hired big software companies. Not easy.
    2. Don't quit HVAC job.
    3. YouTube tutorial save money.
    4. Just make your own game. See if anyone like it.
    5. Do for hobby for fun.
     
  11. angrypenguin

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    Both.

    In this line of work being self taught is not optional. In every hour of my day to day work I use something I learned through my own self development or experience. I am constantly using technologies, methodologies or theories that weren't covered or didn't even exist when I studied at university.

    But, that formal university training was still incredibly valuable. It made sure that I had a solid foundation in my software engineering knowledge that, importantly, didn't have any gaps. See, the issue with being purely self taught is that when you start you don't even know what it is you have to learn. (See the first of the Four Stages of Competence.) That's where teachers are useful, and universities/colleges/schools just happen to be a good source for professional ones. As a bonus, you get a formal qualification that may be of use.

    I'm not saying that purely self-taught people are in any way inferior, by the way. They just have to travel a harder path to get the same level of knowledge and experience, because they don't have the same level of guidance to speed them along the way. If that's your only option or you can't afford the guidance then don't let that stop you - jump in and get started!
     
  12. passerbycmc

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    Depends on your end goal, working in HVAC is pretty stable work so keep that in mind. Since in the game industry things can be a little shaky. If you work hard and can network well you will always land on your feet but it takes work to do so.

    Both routes are possible, but i would say do both. If you go to school for a CS degree, you should be putting in a lot of work into personal learning as well. Even with the CS degree you need a additional edge on up on the other students you are competing with work for. So teach your self as much as possible, and try and take on some contract work.

    If you feel you have the drive to do so, self taught is a viable route as well, i am proof that you can do very well this way. Just keep in mind it is a lot of work, i had 2 years of working a crappy shipping job during the day, and teaching myself to program, working on personal projects and trying to get contract work during the night, before i caught a break. I would no recommend this to anyone but i do believe it was the best choice for me when i made it.

    With either approach your social and networking skills are something you need to get far as well. People have to know about you and what you can do for them.

    As someone involved in hiring decisions i have taken both people who are self taught and those that went through school to get here. I will say if you have no relevant education, i will want to see relevant games or apps that you have made if i was to interview.
     
  13. Ryiah

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    YouTube tutorials are honestly very hit and miss. Some of them are decent but the majority just suck. The official learning section, which is apparently very easy to miss, is a far better choice but in the end you'll going beyond the basics won't really involve either of them.
     
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  14. passerbycmc

    passerbycmc

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    Once you get to a certain point, the time it takes to watch a video and follow along is better spent just experimenting with your own ideas. I find i am over all just not much of a fan of learning material as videos. Good documentation, blogs and written content i find much more effective and easier to parse for the information you need.
     
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  15. Tom_Veg

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    I am self learner (youtube, forums, "ask a friend" and try and error method). I'm not developer, i'm 3D artist and i work with developers on their projects. Everything i learned was by myself. So, you don't need college for that. I don't see how and where will college degree make you more hirable in this industry. Here only skill and experience matter, not diploma. (with experience, your personal projects you did in free time do count, if they are good). But, considering you already have work, in what i understood is good and stable company, maybe you should not quit before you make something. Learn and make stuff in your spare time after work. Then after you create something, publish and see what will happen.
    Good luck
     
  16. grimunk

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    The value is going to college or University is in that it changes the way you think. You learn to reserve judgement and identify credibly evidence (Mileage varies with the individual). These are indisputably powerful skills to have for anything you do - development included.

    That said, getting started writing code is very easy and accessible. Writing good code? No so much.
     
  17. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Easy test:

    I recommend starting and finishing a tiny game in Unity. If you can't do that, you're not fit for this industry as a career IMHO. It can be as simple as you like, but that capacity for just reaching out and using the information under your own initiative, is vital.

    A game developer is not a robot. You have to be able to find solutions you have not been taught. So if you cannot make anything in Unity (and it doesn't really get easier) then this is the wrong thing to go to college for at the age of 24.
     
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  18. RichardKain

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    What you learn in college can often not have that much to do with your profession. If you are interested in acquiring a formal degree, make sure it is one that...

    1. Involves subjects that you are interested in
    2. Will teach valuable skills
    3. Is transferable within academics

    This is why a lot of experienced people will tell you to shoot for a Computer Science degree. (CS) CS is a very technical discipline, and as such the vast majority of coursework for it will cover #2 and #3 of what I mentioned above. If you happen to be interested in technical matters, it will even cover #1. #1 is a little more optional, but I feel it is important. If you aren't interested in what you are trying to learn, education can be like pulling teeth. If you are interested, it can be pure joy. While it is possible to force yourself to learn things that don't interest you, it is probably better to pursue something you actually want to learn.

    CS degrees are desirable because they prepare you for a number of different technical professions. And technical professions tend to have a constant demand for trained workers, and usually pay well. So a career in technical fields tends to be stable and profitable. Also, CS degrees usually involve a lot of "hard" educational disciplines, such as science and math. And all of that coursework tends to be some of the most transferrable within academics, giving you plenty of flexibility. If you get a credit in any math course, that credit will transfer to just about any other school, with no dispute. Technical coursework is secure, and will be recognized and respected pretty much anywhere.

    I actually didn't get a CS degree. I got a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design. My BA has always been recognized, but it hasn't actually benefitted my career very much. On my own initiative, I taught myself technical skills in web development. The majority of my career has been in technical web development, constantly moving further and further from my graphic design roots. I always enjoyed what I learned in college, but my own training ended up paying the bills.
     
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  19. angrypenguin

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    Good stuff, all of which I agree with.

    A good CS degree gives you reasonable depth and breadth of the fundamentals of computing, and the theory and practice of using computers to solve problems. From there you're in a good position to learn whatever you need for whatever computing field you're interested in moving into.
     
  20. RichardKain

    RichardKain

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    After years in more technical disciplines, I'm actually over-qualified for a job in game development. But I still have never pushed for such a position. This is mainly due to my personal circumstances, and especially my geography. I live in an area where there is virtually no game development presence. There are simply no jobs to be had out here. The only developers in my area are small indies and struggling start-ups. If I wanted to go that route I could do so on my own.

    Pursuing a career in game development would require me to move. And I have family where I am that I don't want to leave. So I make the best of what I have working in a different field where I program web applications. I keep my game development to the side as a hobby. It's not what I would call optimal, but it improves my quality of life considerably. (plenty of time for my family, solid pay in a stable industry, health insurance, reasonable work hours, very short commute, etc...)

    A lot of times, finding some level of balance is more important than blind ambition. Keep this in mind when making educational decisions.

    Also, do NOT get a game-design or development degree. Do NOT go to a "game" school. Game development has not been properly integrated into more formalized educational establishments yet. As such, degrees in that discipline are not taken nearly as seriously. Also, the majority of for-profit "game" schools are just massive debt engines that teach you next to nothing while saddling you with crushing debt. And most game employers don't take them seriously either, so they provide no real benefit for employment or placement. Attending a regular state or community college for a BA or CS degree will be much more valuable, cost a lot less, and provide way more opportunities for scholarships. (to further reduce your costs) Most game-focused educational institutions are scams. Any success stories that come out of those are due to the personal merits of the student in question, and they still get billed way more than they ought to.
     
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  21. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    I've done both. I took some programming courses in high school. I would later enroll for a CS degree. I am still in school, but I began my unity game project about a year prior to my enrollment.

    Game dev by reports is a difficult field to make money in, and the AAA scene can be toxic. I say this "by reports" because I've never been a professional game dev nor worked in AAA. However my reasoning for you is this: a CS degree (bettering yourself) is never a bad thing. CS opens lots of opportunities up for you. Especially today when software devs are so much in demand!

    A game dev degree would be useful if you just wanted to make games, however it would be a very narrow focus.

    I'd say go to college for CS. Think of it like this: "Would it be more beneficial to go to school for game dev or CS?". If the game dev college costs you about as much as a CS degree, and the CS degree offers more opportunity then why not?

    I know little about game dev colleges like DeVry but I'd assume they don't go in to too much depth on the engineering side of things. You can make game logic but some games require some serious engineering knowledge and skills (MMO's, database specialties, etc.).

    Honestly I'm very similar to you @OP. I am 27 years old and in this CS program when most in my major are you know, 19 to 23.
     
  22. sobakpolor

    sobakpolor

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    This! I was able to put together a small game in my spare time, relying on tutorials and various resources on the web (some free, some not). Before going much further, I enrolled at a local university majoring in Game Design.. My hope was to fill in any gaps in my knowledge and give myself a solid foundation. Long story short, I learned nothing new and at least a third of the required courses were completely irrelevant to game design. I withdrew before the third semester and have been busy learning ever since. I've learned far more in the last few weeks, than I did in the last 6 months of traditional education. Its incredibly slow, and you'll pay through the nose.

    If you're determined and have the discipline, self-learning is the way to go. As others have said, knowledge and experience are what count the most. Learn enough to prove your value, and you'll be fine.
     
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  23. OscarGollan

    OscarGollan

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    I know that this is an old thread, but I want to express my opinion (perhaps you do not need it). I believe that it is necessary to combine college education and self-study. This is the most effective way to become a professional in anything.
     
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  24. Murgilod

    Murgilod

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    Citation needed.
     
  25. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    they took care of that, murg ^^^ people can have opinions.
     
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  26. Murgilod

    Murgilod

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    Yeah, and they'd better be prepared to back them up, yeah?
     
  27. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Back them up.... or just expound upon them in friendly discussion.

    "Hey oscar, how'd you come to thaht conclusion? Whats your experience?"
     
  28. FMark92

    FMark92

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    No.
     
  29. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    There are not studies or statistics on everything in life, sometimes anecdotal evidence is all you got. Though,I share the experience, university degree combined with a keen interest and off hours projects like something on GitHub etc are those developers that I have been most impressed by. Only self thaughts often miss the engineer like approuch to problems you get when you study to a civil engineer or similar.

    Offcourse not a guarantee, have met compete idiot's with master of science degrees etc
     
  30. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    Hmm Bill Gates, Steve Jobs had degrees when they created their empires? Nope.

    Degree is essentially worthless in tech in general I think. If I was hiring I'd rather hire someone who's been coding for 5 years and has real world experience vs someone fresh out of college with 2 years experience.

    I personally think a persons experience and results is more important than a piece of paper. In reality people needing degree's for these types of jobs is holding back the creative individuals who can really change the world all because they weren't in a position to get a piece of paper.

    Coding, Art, Music, SFX related jobs certainly don't and shouldn't need a degree ever - if they can prove through experience they know what they are doing.

    Unless you're trying to be a Doctor or some super highly specialized position that deals with peoples safety then I think college is a waste of money. Paying tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands depending where you go - just to learn what a simple goolgle search will tell you.

    I've honestly thought I may eventually start hiring random people in my local area who are interested and help get them trained in the field and giving them an opportunity. I hate to see opportunity locked away from people who simply just need a chance to show they can do it.
     
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  31. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    Bill went to Harvard or something similar, a drop out just like me. The best of the best get recruited or start their own business before finishing :p
     
  32. N1warhead

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    Well I mean he did go back and get a degree in the 2000's I believe. But it was moreso a goal than anything of course - Bill ain't needed a degree lol.

    But I forgot who said it, someone rich lol But they were saying that they kept applying for jobs left and right, and eventually they got tired of it and simply started a business because they couldn't get a job and now they run their multi-billion dollar company lol.... But not sure who it was. Just heard it the other day - but I'm tired lol.
     
  33. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    The competence is not in the degree it's in what you have learned while attending there. I did 3 full years before I was headhunted, I learned a ton of theoretical engineer methodologies, things I have good use for every day.
     
  34. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    Yea... that's definitely some hyperbole. Bill G and Steve Jobs were both entrepreneurs, the millions of college grads today are not in it to be entrepreneurs. You're comparing literally comparing apples so oranges. They're seeking jobs and job security. College being as close as possible to a meritocracy these days... you need decent (or great) grades if you want some positions in this field.

    I cannot imagine how bettering oneself would be considered a waste of money by any stretch of the imagination...

    College would be more affordable without bullcrap government subsidies, and the same goes for housing too. Don't fix prices and you'll find more contractors willing to build affordable housing instead of upscale condos.

    Fite me. :p

    Around these parts we call that an "intern"...
     
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  35. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

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    Yeah, the thing with Gates and Jobs that set them apart is good business skills. Very differnet from technical skills.

    But in general I agree. College is a cookie cutter formula, and so long as you stay within preformed molds you only gonna get that far.
     
  36. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Gates and Jobs also entered the industry early on, before it was established. Things work differently now.
     
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  37. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    I have some friends that are employed CEOs meaning they don't own the company, the board have employed them. These guys have dual degrees both master of science and master of economics degrees. So higher roles in large companies often require a degree, and on most other positions it's a huge benefit.

    If you start your own company you offcourse do what you want :) but most entrepreneurs do have some experience from university one way or the other
     
  38. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    But my point was they didn't have a degree to do it. That was the entire premise of all my arguments. A degree is okay to have, but it shouldn't be something locked in place required at all for tech related jobs. But you're correct things work differently now, in fact things are easier than ever before with the amount of information out there that you can learn freely on your own. But granted I can admit - most people appear to not be smart enough to google a lot of the questions I see lol.

    I'm not saying don't get a degree, anything that helps you learn I suppose is the route to take. But at the same time that very same degree that costs you 100,000+ dollars for a 4 year degree, there is someone else who isn't afforded the luxury of attaining one due to various circumstances in their life that can simply spend 4 years learning the same exact stuff and be just as proficient if not more proficient depending on their determination and aptitude.

    Which is why I still say and will always say tech related jobs should simply go to whom knows what their doing rather than a piece of paper. Otherwise your denying an entire group of creative and amazing people who just never got the opportunity. It is simply wrong to do so. And I'm glad nearly every job posting I've ever seen generally always says "And/Or Equivalent Experience."

    But eh, I've stated my peace on the matter.

    TLDR: Shouldn't be required to have a degree if someone knows what they are doing in tech, period.
     
  39. APSchmidt

    APSchmidt

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    If you are privileged enough to be able to go to college and you have the money for it, go to college, obviously.
     
  40. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    Well, I'm one of those self-taughts (edited) without a degree and I only have 1 year of Uni. Since (even the bigger) Silicon-Valley IT companies are happily employing me in Senior Engineer+ (currently as a team lead with 10 people) positions, and I'm not a native English speaker, I'm from an ex-commie country (slightly different culture), I just got my permanent resident status a year ago.
    So I guess degree is good to have, but not necessary. (Okay, I have some experience, workhorse since 1996)
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
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  41. APSchmidt

    APSchmidt

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    Interesting typo... :)
     
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  42. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    Shoot. :D (See? I'm not a native English speaker. And since Hungarian is a language where we mostly write the same what we say sometimes I make these mistakes... I guess it will go away in 20 years or so... :D)
     
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  43. APSchmidt

    APSchmidt

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    I'm not a native either, I also make mistakes but yours was beautiful. ;)
     
  44. Lurking-Ninja

    Lurking-Ninja

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    See? I'm a free tinker! ( :p too much?)
     
  45. MBrown42

    MBrown42

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    What is the goal of becoming a game developer as a career? To do more of what you enjoy and have fun doing? Valid enough, but it will certainly limit you in the future. AND a broader base of experience or education will reduce that limit.

    I've often wondered if you are lucky enough to land a paying job to support you and/or offspring + spouse or any others in your family who need support, will you still enjoy it nearly as much if you HAVE TO in order to pay bills and such.

    My spotted alien green head (see avatar) has learned from my perspective at least that if you have a steady gig which pays well do not blow it off until you have secured something either just as well paying or just as satisfying. But be careful, what you do for a career and what you do for fun may not always play nice together.

    PS - some of the hardest working and most creative people I've met in life are allergic to traditional college educations.
     
  46. TenKHoursDev

    TenKHoursDev

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    Ohhhh boy.

    Let me say something about that... college is funded with loans, grants, and subsidies (others money). I don't understand exactly how one wouldn't have the 'privilege' of going to school in the United States? I didn't have a single credit account before college... and yet here I am. The point being: the American higher education loan system will hand out loans to virtually anyone who can get into a school. That bar is set pretty low.

    FYI I may be a "privileged white dude" but I'm not a Californian trust fund baby. I've worked for everything I've ever had in this life.
     
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  47. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    I haven't read too deeply into the history of Apple, but Microsoft had a not insignificant number of opportunities line up for them that allowed them to become what they are today. Below are two examples that made a large impact.

    MS-DOS was shipped with IBM PCs due to a deal between IBM and Digital Research falling through that more or less resulted in the death of CP/M. MS-DOS is largely responsible for Microsoft surviving long enough to make Windows. Without it we might have had an entirely different computing environment.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CP/M

    Xerox's PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) developed the first graphical user interface as part of a new computer called the Xerox Alto, but they made a mistake in that the total cost of the workstation was around $100,000. Microsoft based their Windows UI off of the design and sold it for between $100 and $250. We know who was successful there.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_graphical_user_interface#Xerox_PARC

    Neither of these were really about the tech though. Getting widespread marketshare, both by getting an exclusive deal with a major computer manufacturer and by developing a very affordable software package, was a very smart business strategy.
     
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  48. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    My point is that this isn't a useful piece of information without further context. They're two extreme outliers from a time long passed selected seemingly based on Survivorship Bias. Is it useful to know about them? Definitely. Would I base career decisions on them? Almost certainly not.

    I definitely agree here, it should be about what you know and can do, not about how you got to that point. However, consider the people making the decisions about who gets hired for jobs. They're not all technical people!

    When technical people get to make the hiring decisions they tend to be based on demonstrated ability. On the flip side, when HR or management type people with little or no technical ability are making the call, having a reputable 3rd party vouch for your skills by way of a qualification is pretty handy. In many cases it's a mix, where a bunch of people will short-list candidates based on potentially arbitrary rules and then get some technical people involved for interviews or similar. It sucks, but if you don't get to the interview you never get a chance to show off what you've done.

    In an ideal world, yeah, who cares about the qualification. Unfortunately it's not an ideal world, so in many (not all) cases the qualification does matter.
     
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  49. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    @TenKHoursDev : I've attempted to apply for college, and all I could ever get was 2,000 in a grant and 5,000 in loans per semester. Then I would need about another 20 grand per semester in cash. That there is the reasoning why a lot of people simply can't do it. (none of my local community colleges offer Computer Science) so I'd have to go to a university, which aren't affordable.

    From that day forward I just spent on learning every single day and bettering myself and saving myself 250,000.

    Like the saying you got people spending $250,000 to go to college and there's someone who spent $2000 at a trade school and is now making $65 an hour in an area you can survive on $15 an hour and owes no debt at all via student loans, etc.
     
  50. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    @angrypenguin I completely get what you mean. I agree the qualifications definitely matter. And I completely understand what you mean with the hiring process, not all of them are devs, so qualifications help pin point candidates..

    I'm quite certain somebody who makes and sells some multi-billion dollar application could get a job anywhere, and chances are if they did that the entire world knows who they are so qualifications at that point aren't exactly needed as the world knows your demonstrated abilities.