The Games Game September 2007
The Online Education Option (September 2007)
Dear Tom ,
I've been reading your articles, well most of them anyway, and I've got a dilemma. I went to trade school after high school, and I've been working at various odd jobs (none of them anything remotely connected to the game industry), but what I yearn to do is work in video games. Here's the dilemma: I've read your advice to get a four-year degree at minimum, but that's just plain impossible for me. What is possible for me is to study via one of those online schools. I realize I'd have to work harder to make that kind of education work for me, but I'm determined and I'll definitely apply myself to it diligently.
So the problem now is that I don't know which (if any) of those online schools is well regarded by the game industry. I don't want potential employers to laugh at me when they see the school name on my resume, see. So - my question for you is, which online school is best respected by the game industry? Please don't tell me none of them are, because this is the only option open to me, given my life circumstances.
Waitin' and hopin' for a helpful response.
Hello Wait Hope,
An online education is perfectly valid, if you truly can't swing the brick-and-mortar campus education. Or should I say, it's better than not getting a formal education at all. First best: brick-and-mortar education. Second best: online education. Third choice: teaching yourself. Actually, if you go the online education route, or even if you go to the real life campus, you'll need to teach yourself on the side anyway, but it sounds like you already knew that.
But you mustn't worry so much about appearances. The education you can get is the education you can get, and as long as you work to fill in the gaps yourself and to build an excellent portfolio, that's all anybody can ask of you. Nobody ever laughs at school names on resumes. Trust me. That does not happen. Especially if you present yourself well and have a strong portfolio.
It's possible to matriculate at the best university and still be a lousy candidate. It's possible to get your education at the lowliest online school and still be an awesome candidate. Whether you get the job is up to you, and you alone. No school name on your resume is going to guarantee or deny you a job offer.
So stop worrying about appearances. Choose the school that most closely fits your own needs and situation. And I'll see you at some future game industry gathering.Tom's Bio
Tom Sloper's game biz career began over twenty years ago at Western Technologies, where he designed LCD games and the Vectrex games "Spike" and "Bedlam". There followed stints at Sega Enterprises, Rudell Design, Atari Corporation, and Activision. In 12 years at Activision, Tom produced 36 unique game titles (plus innumerable ports and localizations), designed four games, and won five awards. Tom worked for several months in Activision's Japan operation, in Tokyo. He is perhaps best known for designing, managing and producing Activision's "Shanghai" line. He is currently consulting, writing, speaking, teaching, and developing original games. Find out more at Sloperama.
© 2007 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.