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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignwhy do companies still ask for a college degree for design?
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michealgimies
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« on: April 19, 2019, 04:27:17 AM »

Hello everyone,,
It makes no sense to me at least because most colleges give you an introduction to what design is about rather than actually educating you to an expert. I study 'media design' (whatever that is supposed to be) [spam links removed] and when I see how we get stuff teached, I instantly notice on how slow paced it is so that anyone can become a designer supposedly. Why would a company hire a junior who went to college compared to an expert who educated himself at home in a more effective way?

« Last Edit: April 22, 2019, 09:45:19 AM by ThemsAllTook » Logged
Richard Kain
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2019, 08:44:52 AM »

"Design" is typically considered a more senior position, and usually implies some degree of experience. No one hires a "designer" fresh out of college, and they certainly aren't likely to hire one with no degree AND no experience.

A designer is expected to not only have substantial experience, but also a broad swath of influences and a firm grasp of communication. Research ability is also crucial. A designer should theoretically be doing a lot of design, which involves tons of research, planning, and lots and lots of writing. They need to be sketching out layouts, planning levels, and taking a wealth of considerations into mind when cooking up a game design. All of these skills are the kind that having a college education frequently assists you with. It is very common in college to learn how to do research, bundle up your research into a paper, present your paper, and then have a bunch of teachers and fellow students critique your paper. All of that is very close to the kind of on-the-job experience that your average game designer has.

A solo designer learning on their own can do a significant amount of the same work. But they don't have the same formalized critique process for getting feedback on their work. This isn't necessarily a deal-breaker. Posting your designs on-line can frequently garner the kind of feedback you might need. (along with a wealth of unsolicited and unwelcome feedback, but sorting through the dross is part of the job)

Bottom line, if you plan on submitting yourself for such positions without a formal degree, you had better have some equivalent accomplishments to tout in your favor. There are plenty of companies willing to hire non-college graduates, but they do insist on some validation that you know how to do the job. Put together a design portfolio that verifies this, and more doors will open.
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alchemist
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2019, 02:45:23 PM »

Some college/university programs are really good in terms of teaching you about game design theory and practice, and about how to get a job making games. OTOH some are worthless. No undergraduate or graduate program is going to make you an expert -- that's going to take a good ten years or more of making games professionally first.

But a good degree program in game design or game development will teach you the fundamentals of making games, help you gain a great deal of skill in one or more areas (design, art, programming, sound, production, analytics, etc.), and give you lots of experience working on diverse teams. A good program will help you do the work you need to create a strong portfolio. A great program will, IMO, do all of the above and help you design, develop, and release your own original game.

There are still a lot of crappy programs out there that aren't worth your time or money. But there are more and more that are really good, and game dev companies have started realizing this, which is why they hire people from them.

Now, you might be able to learn and do all that on your own. You might be able to design, develop, and launch a game on your own. But it's much harder to do that way than to go through a strong university program. Many, many people start on their own; almost no one actually finishes.

Disclaimer: I run the game design degree program at Indiana University. Prior to coming here I was a professional game developer (indie/mid/AAA) for more than twenty years.
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Aghko
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2019, 08:17:52 AM »

Hi,
Game Designer here coming also from Media Design degree and working in the industry 10 years, currently at a relatively big company.

I don't know how it works in other places but we don't necessarily hire designers with some university study, however it helps. Any way, I can tell you that the most important thing the university will teach you is to learn by yourself, and that is a quite important skill as game designer.

Whenever interview a junior designer candidate what I take care the most is passion and self-driven learning and doing. If a candidate comes to me with no or just one game concept will lose a lot of points.

If someone which wasn't in college shows passion, a couple of prototypes, talk people through the concept and intentions and shows understanding of the whole process of designing and making a game will quite probably get a job.
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Richard Kain
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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2019, 08:37:11 AM »

Any way, I can tell you that the most important thing the university will teach you is to learn by yourself, and that is a quite important skill as game designer.

This is exactly why so many college curriculum focus so heavily on reading and research. And I can confirm from my own experience that this was perhaps the best and most useful lesson that I learned in college as well. In game development in particular it is important to learn, constantly. And frequently this involves taking the initiative and performing research and experiments on your own.

This type of approach does not require a college education, it just happens to be where many people are exposed to this concept. If you want to push ahead without a college education, just do it. Push, research, learn, and experiment. Document every part of your journey, and share that documentation with others. (to get feedback)
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Mezzmer
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« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2019, 01:09:44 AM »

Going straight back to the first post...

I think with a lot of higher education, you really have to trust that what you are being taught is the right way forward because it pays off, even the endless academia - as other posters have pointed out so well.

The great thing about Games Design learning is you're taught all the invisible avenues. This really doesn't apply so much in programming modules, art or other Games subjects.

If a company sees you don't have a degree, you'd still be able to prove you put time in, but:

To sum up my advice, learning in a college/university is the "solid route" which might even apply more for Game Designers not less.
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