Game development is a fascinating and highly appealing course especially to new school leavers who have hopes to create their own multi-million dollar gaming empire.
Besides the attraction of creating games that people enjoy, game development also offers students the chance to learn new skills in the form of software development, graphics design, project management, and programming.
There are however some glaring reasons why most students shouldn’t bother pursuing a degree in game development.
You don’t necessarily need a game development degree to find work
Most people who work in the game development industry would consider getting a degree a waste of time and money.
Your time may be better spent working on game projects in your own time in order to learn at your own pace while you gather the required experience for your craft.
it may seem like employers may prioritize a game development graduate over someone who has no formal training, however, just because you don’t have a degree doesn’t mean you don’t have the experience.
A potential games development company may consider hiring someone without a degree if they have an impressive portfolio, demonstrating the core principles of good game design.
Principles of Good Games Design
Objectives and constraints
Is there a well-defined set of goals to achieve in your game, and is it inclusive for different types of people to participate and enjoy?
Constraints are also necessary to ensure players aren’t overwhlemed by options and how they can achieve the goals
Like objectives, there must be clearly defined success criteria. This is something to tell players whether they are winning or losing.
A game without a clearly defined success criterion often makes players quit prematurely. For the sake of player retention, have clearly defined success criteria that can easily be recognized and trigger a player’s pleasure centres.
Like success criteria, rewards are neccessary to trigger a player’s pleasure centers and allow them to play for longer.
It also gives the feeling of progession and increased achievement in the levels. This in-turn gives the sense that they are improving and are better quiped to handle the higher levels.
There is no better way to make your game more appealing than to give the player a sense that they are improving and continually upgrading their character!
Game development is an extremely competitive climate
while developing games seems like an exciting prospect for any young person, the industry is very much a driven by pressure and competition.
For example, looking at the mobile gaming scene, for every one good game, there is a thousand other imitation versions created by aspiring and often competent devs who all want a shot at the big bucks, just like you!
Just because you have a game design degree doesn’t mean you will automatically be handed a position ahead of any other qualified dev who may lack formal training.
It’s true that any degree adds some level of value to your CV overall, however your portfolio and working track record is way more important to potential employers.
Think about it, if an employer has the opportunity to hire a graduate, or just outsource the same work to some developer overseas who might not have the formal credentials but can pump out games at an extremely affordable price, it’s a no brainer.
The high level of competition in the market and the fact that game development is often driven by tight budgets and speedy turnarounds mean that the cheap freelancers will beat you to the job 80% of the time.
A degree in programming or computer science might serve you better!
While two completely different industries, computer science and game development share many similar modules and programming techniques.
Both degrees will provide fundamentals of programming which is usually neccessary to make games and get hired.
However, computer science degrees will give you the added security of finding work not only in game design, but in IT, cryptography, software design, web design and many more!
Computer science is a more versatile course and generally you can expect job prospects within the gaming industry to be even higher than students who choose to study game development.
Of course if you are 100% sure that game development is your passion, this is the course to go for.
Choosing computer science might land you in some hot water later down the line when you realise how much extra things you need to learn.
Things like advanced maths, artificial intelligence, algorithms, full stack development, software design and the basics of writing a compiler.
Most of these topics are probably far from what you originally bargained for as a game design dev but you will certainly encounter then if you go the computer science route.
Good games are difficult to make and promote
Just because you make a game doesn’t mean other people will know you made a game.
It doesn’t mean the game will take off, and it doesn’t by any means guarantee you will become rich and famous.
if your goal is to learn for your own good, thats great! But if you are choosing this degree so you can make the next ‘flappy birds’ and secure some serious coin, think again!
You could actually be the person to make some serious cash creating games, but this will take time, effort, dedication and maybe even a lot of money!
Thats right, you might end up having to pay to even get your game noticed, not the other way around!
Demand for game developers is much lower than the supply
It seems that even though the demand of game developers around the word is relatively high, the supply is higher!
thousands of graduates leave university every year after getting their game development degree, and thousands more teach themselves to develop games in the comfort of their own homes.
In an ideal world the people with the degrees will take priority whenever opportunities come. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be that same general sentiment amongst employers.
They are focused on getting things done ahead of time and on an often tight budget. The cheaper person (often with little formal education) but with good experience and quick turnaround will have no trouble landing the job!
Game development is all about seeking out opportunities and having a portfolio to back your value.
The real question is that who will secure the opportunities? Are you after a game development job? Then you should probably focus on developing your portfolio.
If you are after fame and recognition for self developed games, you might not even need a degree for that!
Simply create something you personally think is cool, consider documenting the proccess in a blog, vlog, tik tok or stream, grow your following, and who knows, eventually you might get to your destination.