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Can I be a Video Game Designer with a Degree in Electrical Engineering

  1. Dec 30, 2013 #1


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    I want to be an electrical engineer or mining engineer when I grow up and I want to get a BS in both of those fields, but I was just wondering if I could get a job as a video game designer with a degree in electrical engineering.
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  3. Dec 30, 2013 #2


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    You probably have a better chance with an EE degree than a mining engineering degree. However, neither degree will be the best preparation if you want to be a game designer.
  4. Dec 30, 2013 #3
    You can be a game designer, but you'll likely have to learn how to design games yourself and open your own small studio. After you start making money selling your games (these can be very small and simple game apps), then you can try to get employment with established gaming companies.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
  5. Dec 31, 2013 #4


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    I happen to know quite successful game designers without any degree, so EE should not be an obstruction.
  6. Dec 31, 2013 #5
    With this logic, no degree at all would be an obstruction. He might as well major in history or latin. I think the spirit of the question is whether EE would give him the skills required to compete for a game design position. I dont believe it would. My EE program, and I think others, only has a token amount of programming in it. Game "design" might be different than game "programming" but in either case why not major in computer science or study programming instead of EE?
  7. Dec 31, 2013 #6


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    Many EE programs (my alma mater included) allow a specialization in software. So I imagine the question is what does the EE program look like at your institution? If there is a possibility to focus on software, you should be fine. Otherwise you might be better off in CS.
  8. Jan 2, 2014 #7


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    It depends on what type of design and games would you like to do.
  9. Jan 2, 2014 #8


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    typically EEs focus on hardware or low level software (ie the first 6 layers of the OSI model). although many EEs go on to design application level software, it is typically not taught in school under the EE curriculum.

    therefore as an ee you would be well suited to designing gaming hardware and maybe designing some parts of game engines, however you would not be well suited to programming in general. I would recommend going computer science if you are adamant about becoming a video game developer.
  10. Jan 5, 2014 #9
    If you are looking for a career at a company as a video game designer it would be challenging to convince them to hire you based on an engineering degree when they have access to a pool of people who have spent 4 years learning the ins and outs of creating games. You can, however, create games in your spare time. This could ultimately lead to way more money than working for a company, but can also give you the necessary skills to sell a company on your ability in the long run while earning a living as an engineer.
  11. Jan 5, 2014 #10
    My momma told me I can be anything I want when I was little - she was right.
  12. Jan 5, 2014 #11
    As someone who has done game programming (non professionally for indie games), I am not sure electrical engineering will be enough. It is usually more focused on hardware, and while much of game programming needs to be done at a low level to optimize performance. This is usually achieved though a game engine. So could you write game engines?

    I would say probably not, but it is going to depend on what you take for your EE classes and what the curriculum is. Most game programming is more closely related to CS with a focus in graphics theory then anything else.

    As for a game designer - pretty much everyone wants to be a game designer, what do you mean by game designer though? Do you want to make concept artwork, textures, 3d models, animations, etc.? Alternatively, do you just plan to come up with a game design?

    Because if it is the latter (just doing game design) is pretty much an impossible dream. People do have jobs doing that, but the fact is they probably have another skill-set such as creative writing, art (3D and 2D), animation, and a variety of other things.

    Doing game design for artwork etc. however typically requires you to know tools such as photoshop, zbrush, blender, maya, 3d studio max. Or whatever 2d and 3d modeling package is being used by the company in order to make good artwork.

    Here is a site with useful advice on becoming a game designer or even a game developer. http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html
  13. Jan 5, 2014 #12


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    Having done game programming in the past (including in a paid capacity), you will need a lot more than a degree.

    Your biggest asset apart from the necessary technical and social skills (yes game development is a social activity) is your project portfolio. Your portfolio is one of the key things that gives employers an idea of not only what you know, but how serious you are about this kind of work.

    The pay is not that good and you will be working long hours with project deadlines (if you are being funded by a publisher then you will make your deadlines or risk losing funding) and at crunch time, you will be working long into the night.

    You will need to understand programming in an extremely deep manner and you will need a lot of domain level knowledge for games programming and a lot of general knowledge (non-domain) to facilitate the needs of the game engine and game code.

    Geometry (3D) must be intuitive. You need to understand computational geometry like you understand how to read a book. You must be able to navigate complex code bases and keep a lot of information in your head when you come to debug code. You need to also have good communication skills and fit into the culture of game developers.

    A good way to show that you are capable of doing the above is to do a game demo. It doesn't have to be super complex, but it does need to show that you can do what you need to do and that you can finish what you started. In the process (if you did it right), you should have a very sore head (from banging it and being constantly frustrated) and real skillset.

    I would not recommend that you look at the common game engine books out there on the market. Real game engines that are used in professional environments are completely different and far more complex than any book could do justice to. These engines literally get into the hundreds of thousands of lines of code and use almost any kind of computer science data structure/algorithm/etc constructs that you can think of.

    One engine that is free to download is the Torque 3D engine. That should give you some idea of what a small pro engine would look like.

    Finally you should be aware that people out there (like I used to be) live and breathe this stuff all day and every day. It really is a life style choice. You can spend some weekends doing other things but back when I was doing this, all of my time was either coding and talking to friends about this stuff or it was thinking about it.

    I think one test that you should think about is this: if you can last a year in programming while being saturated with bugs and crashes with late nights spent in front of a debugging window and still have the motivation to keep going, then that is a good sign that you have the will to be a software developer.
  14. Jan 6, 2014 #13


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    Chiro, why did you leave gamedev industry?
  15. Jan 6, 2014 #14


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    chiro, your quote above applies not just to video game designer but of any software developers, based on my own limited experience in internships at software firms as well as people I know who work in that field. My own experience permanently turned me off working in software development, as at the time I really couldn't see myself enjoying life and having a good work/life balance in a software firm.
  16. Jan 6, 2014 #15


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    True. If you want to do game design you can go either technical side (programming) or artistic side (2d graphic, 3d modeling, animation). Creative writing is great skill to pick up somewhere but it's not something that allows you to break into industry. More or less Comp Sci or Art school is the way to go.

    Don't say that. It's true that industry is harsh but unlike physics, gamedev allows you to lead comfortable middle-class life. I did both and gamedev is much much better.
  17. Jan 6, 2014 #16


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    There were personality conflicts and the work culture turned out to aid those conflicts. I was planning to do a math degree after the project (and I made that clear at the interview stage) so the result was that I did my math degree earlier than expected.

    Also to StatGuy, yes you are 100% correct but I was only thinking about the thread topic. All potential new devs should read StatGuys post.
  18. Jan 6, 2014 #17


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    It depends who you work for. I agree that the more mature firms can provide what you are saying but there is a lot variation within the industry itself.

    It can also be quite unstable. In Australia, one thing that helped the industry was the exchange rate. When I was in the industry it was quite low (US to AU) but when it crept up, it hit some of the developers very hard. It's decreased a bit over the last two years and that's a good thing for development houses.

    Also you have to take into account that in Australia, it's not like the US. You have different supply and demand issues here and that can have an effect on compensation.

    I'd expect the same argument to apply between different countries for similar and more extensive reasons.
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