Year 12 student wanting to get into the games industry

Hi folks,

Since a young age, it's been a dream of mine to work in the video game industry. I spent a great deal of my childhood experimenting with things like film and game creation (starting with point&click games using Powerpoint ;) ), later years involved level editing/fooling around with modding, making record of all my random design thoughts and ideas, reviewing games etc.. (as well as reading a lot of game related media).

While I've spent the last 11 or 12 years telling people I want to design games after school, in reality I don't have any practical game development skills and (most importantly) I have very little idea what sort of courses I should be looking at after I finish the HSC this year.

My interests in games lie in level/gameplay and general design. The thought of doing a standard degree such as computer science at a traditional university has crossed my mind, however programming isn't something I particularly enjoy. Living in NSW, my understanding is that game related education is fairly limited here, and again I'm not sure it's the best idea (and after glancing over the forums here, there seems to be mixed opinions on that issue). Also curious as to the usefulness of doing unrelated degrees, I've been toying with the idea of doing primary teaching.

Really just looking for some general guidance/advice. Sorry if this post is a bit whiney, however I really don't know where else to go for help.

Thanks :)

samh's picture

Yeah, the most fun part of making a game is probably that thing of getting an idea and then working it through to completion. Most people want to design games - in fact I'd say that's why 99% of people go into game dev. Problem is, you're not going to be allowed to design games for a company without some serious production experience. Imagine there's a guys who has been working for a company for 7 years as a programmer or an artist and has become a project leader; who is going to get a look in on game design for the next project - the guy who has just come out of a course or the guy with 7 years experience? So, you need to work in the trenches a bit and work your way up to game design.

If you don't like programming then DO NOT do computer science or IT. You'll hate it and fail.

If you like the idea of level design, then go down the art/design path. It's never too late to start developing your skills, so start now. Start making a map. Get Half Life 2 and install the SDK and start making some custom maps. Might be old, but it will give you the idea. Look for mod communities who are looking for level designers and get some practical experience working as part of a team - then you have something you can start showing prospective employers. If you start now then by the time you finish your degree you'll have 4-5 years of experience in level design. You might even pick up some work with a game dev.

Once you start making maps you'll get a better idea of the kinds of skills you need. You'll find anything to do with design that includes a strong digital media/animation/3D component will work well, and will also teach you skills you can use outside of the games industry. Industrial design is one possible option.

Also, try and get work for a game developer. Do anything, just get your foot in the door. If you can just be there you'll learn so much about how game development works you'll get a really good idea what you need to do.

What you do for your HSC is whatever will get you maximum UAI so you get your pick of courses.

Finally, don't become a teacher unless you really really love the idea of teaching. You'll just end up being a bad unhappy teacher who the students don't like and who always wonders if his life would have been different if he'd followed his passion. If you want to be a game dev then go for it 100%.

No one easy path here - you just have to work at it from as many angles as possible until someone gives you a chance.

Anonymous's picture

All pretty good advice, most of all have fun with some mates making some games.

Anonymous's picture

Fantastic advice here.

Also, for aspiring newcomers, check sloperama.com and read all of the essays - some keen insight there.