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I'm 16 years old. I'm planning my future career and I'm standing on a doorstep and don't know which way to go.

My dream was to create the best game ever. As I was growing up, I started to notice, how my passion for games didn't disappear for the whole 10 years and was/is still growing... Game development still seems too "childish" for my parents and for our family friends and they're stating that I should study something more serious.

I don't exactly know what I can do and what I want to do. I know PHP, C++ (This year will be the second, when I'm learning this programming language at school), JavaScript and HTML. I had made many website designs, however, they weren't something you could actually call professional designs... I'm learning vector graphics, 3d modelling, music making... I tried to make a game several times, but I didn't accomplish anything yet...

And... Well... Without a computer I can... Well, I can make pancakes... And... wash dishes I guess?

I am writing a console based C++ game as my Summer Project for my school, which, I guess, will be my first actual game made from scratch (the other was a simple drag&drop experiment in Game Maker 6).

These doubts about what I can actually do can't let me decide whether I should study something related to game development...

So it would be great to know how to get rid of these doubts and have a stronger opinion in what career I want to follow (game related or not).

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closed as not constructive by Byte56, Sean Middleditch, bummzack, Tetrad Feb 26 '13 at 4:00

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I don't think your parents will object to you studying Computer Science when you enter college. A Computer Science degree is often accepted as one of the requirements for getting a job in the games industry, as well as the software industry. Unless they think being a Software Engineer is childish.... –  5ound Jun 8 '11 at 1:12
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my two eurocents: self-improvement is important, but don't let it ruin your youth. don't get too focused on just one thing, or nerdrage will ensue later on. :) –  Raine Jun 8 '11 at 16:57
    
"Game development still seems too "childish" for my parents and for our family friends and they're stating that I should study something more serious." That's where serious games comes in :D –  ChrisC Sep 22 '11 at 18:26
    
I hate the term "serious games". Not the notion of them; a lot of them are pretty interesting applications of gaming in realms outside of play. But that term, man it sounds like some lame gamer parody "I take my games seriously" –  jhocking Sep 27 '13 at 13:25

7 Answers 7

up vote 29 down vote accepted

You've already started so keep learning programming. Don't only learn about game programming, but work on some game projects. Don't tell your judgmental relatives that you're learning to make games, just tell them you're learning to program computers. Then when you graduate go work in a discipline of your choosing, maybe games or maybe not.

So it would be great to know how to get rid of these doubts and have a stronger opinion in what career I want to follow

You're 16. Don't worry about not being sure about your future career, just concentrate on learning as much as you can about as many different things as you can.

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+1. Unless the original poster has some other skill which is more employable or interesting, learning general computer programming is the way to go. It's a well-respected and employable skill, and almost everything you learn on a general programming course is transferable to game software (whereas the reverse is not as true). –  Kylotan Jun 8 '11 at 2:35
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+1 Do this. You can pitch yourself as following a "serious" career path to your parents, then do all you can while in school to get involved in your local game dev community and make lots of projects and such. Research tangible job opportunities related to game development and tell your parents about them (paid internships at large publishers and studios tend to make folks happy, even if you don't ever get one), and they'll eventually see the light if you demonstrate your genuine passion. –  michael.bartnett Jun 8 '11 at 4:09
    
DO dip your feet in. Spend some spare time actually making games - you don't need a degree to begin programming. See if you can get a part time or summer job for a gaming company, to see if you like the work, culture, hours, etc. –  rlb.usa Jun 9 '11 at 17:03

At 16 I thought I knew a lot about where I wanted to go, and it turned out I didn't. I was very good with computers, but there wasn't a lot of support around (I was in high school from '91-'95). I got involved with a lot of things, like you have, learned and kept on learning.

After high school I went out and worked in a few different fields and discovered that I still really had a passion for programming and lots of ideas I thought would make fun games. I also knew that I was lacking a proper background in this stuff :-) I chose to go for a computer science degree, and went back at 27 to get it.

What I didn't realize at that time was how much more I was going to learn about a ton of things I probably wouldn't have otherwise. I worked on compilers and math libraries as a research assistant, and though I will probably never do that again, I gained a lot of insight into things that affect the way I program today.

If I could give you only a few tips, it would go like this: - keep yourself general, and try to learn as much as you can - don't give up on math, because there are big payoffs that you won't see until way after you're done those courses - school is way easier to do if you do it at the "right" age... you get more support to help you succeed than trying to go back and do it - get involved with a project you enjoy and learn to be part of a team... every day I hang around on stackoverflow I realize how much I don't know, and I think I'm not bad at this :) - start and more importantly finish a few small projects... I wrote BBS games and both loved and hated it. The few small projects I'm working on now might one day grow into something larger, but I can enjoy the process because they wrap up and get released. - the difference between game physics and real physics is usually a question of precision ... the line on where is close enough moves, but the principals are the same - get out and do some non-game non-computer things too

I'm working today as a software developer, not in gaming, but I still do game design on the side and hope to head that way one day soon. The work I do isn't going to make any miracles appear but it's challenging and engaging. It's a LOT better than most of the other jobs I've ever had and pays better :-)

If you enjoy it, computer science or software engineering can take you a long long way, regardless if you ever write a game or not.

Hope this helps, sorry about the length

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+1 for "I thought I knew a lot about where I wanted to go, and it turned out I didn't" –  michael.bartnett Jun 8 '11 at 4:04

If your parents think that game development is childish, you should point out that games make more money annually than films. Do they think that film creation would be childish? Games are art and entertainment, just like movies/music/books, and those are all plenty serious things to do.

If you want a career in game development (programming by the sounds of things), then you will need a whole lot more formal education to get anywhere. In the meantime, the best thing to do would be to whack out completed projects. Completed is the operative word- prospective employers would want to see that you can finish a job and do the icky, un-fun parts.

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I was just writing something similar. If your (you = ne5tebiu) parents & family friends insist on calling game development "childish," ask if they think movie production is as well - the two have many overlapping disciplines, technologies, and methods. –  octal9 Jun 7 '11 at 21:55
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I wouldn't recommend arguing with them head on, especially when it's so easy to simply not mention games and tell them you are programming. Arguing head on will just end up wasting a lot of time, make for tense family dinners, and not actually change anyone's mind. –  jhocking Jun 7 '11 at 21:57
    
@jhocking Obviously arguing solves nothing. That doesn't change the fact that "they" have clear misconceptions about what's actually involved in creating games. –  octal9 Jun 7 '11 at 22:03
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@jhocking: Depends on the family environment. I would never stand for my parents telling me that what I wanted to do was childish when it's such a massive industry. –  DeadMG Jun 7 '11 at 22:33
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I wouldn't recommend telling your parents you want to be a filmmaker, either. –  Wooble Jun 8 '11 at 11:28

I'm in the same position.

You should have no problems as long as you avoid these 'game development' degrees. They are too specific - if that fails, you cannot get another software job without CS - and probably your parents will consider it a waste of money. From what I've heard, the content isn't much good either. Go for a Computer Science degree.

Also, finish a game. Maybe a bit of backstory, but I was always pulling off projects too big for me. I have never finished a game, through 5 years of programming on and off. However, I've finally knuckled down to trying to make one, and my level of motivation has shot up to the stage where I'm coding over playing games because I want to, not because I feel I should (I still enjoyed it, but I would've preferred to play the games).

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I don't work in game industry yet, but I think amount of finished projects can be important.

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This answer made sense originally, but after an edit to the question this is a non-sequitur. –  jhocking Jun 8 '11 at 0:37
    
Yeah, sorry about that. As I was writing a detail description of my question, I actually forgot to change the title before submitting the question... –  ne5tebiu Jun 8 '11 at 6:37

I'm now 20 and you are far passed me in your age (and maybe even passed beyond what I'm now), there are only two tips: read code, write code. Just by doing these two and challenging yourself to produce better code with better performance with more reusability and ... everyday will lead you where you have never imagined. Don't let other's opinions disappoint you. It's just they don't know what game making is.

But it's too soon to be concerned about your future career. At the very least you can have game development as hobby even if your job isn't related to computers. If i were you I would start with developing PC games - they are usually much more cheaper to start and it's an easier platform to work on.

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I have 3 suggestions for you besides just computer science

Math, math, and math.

If you go computer science you will probably only be required to learn some college algebra maybe calc 1. I really never applied calc in real life until i started doing games. Even when I was doing engineering work most of what I did was college algebra or geometry.
Take some business math as well, especially Statistics. After the physics and graphics gamers love statistics. Statistics will also be important when you are trying to balance a game. Understanding and considering them ahead of time when building your game will save you trouble in the long run.

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