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Im a senior this year and I'm seriously looking at colleges that can help me get into the game in the Game industry. I've been told countless times it's better if I go to a University(Usc, Becker college, etc) than go to somewhere like Digipen or Full Sail. I'm just really confused about how I should tackle this path. I'd appreciate some help and advice please?

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I've asked a similar question but as a programmer here.… – Chris Bui Oct 12 '10 at 2:21

If your aim is to become an artist (as opposed to a designer or programmer), I would say a full on fine art degree will be the most useful. The game specific skills, like 3d modeling or texture painting can all be done on your own. There are many websites that you can post your work on to get criticism and pointers from industry artists (,, The REAL value of the university will be the basics of art: colour theory, composition, form, etc.

There are very few, if any, institutions which can give you a full on, useful, game art education and positions will be quite competitive. I bet you could learn the same things, if not more, on your own with the internet and some hard work in the same amount of time. I would recommend you check out those websites before you make any sort of decision. Many of the regulars have done some sort of formal education, and they are much more qualified to speak on the matter than I am.

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The best reason to goto a university compared to a full trade school is a fall back. You definitely won't learn as much in depth knowledge for a university but like you said, you should really be learning that on your own as well. – David Young Oct 12 '10 at 5:02
The trick is to learn the things you find necessary, but boring, at school. Pick up the rest on your own. – Nailer Oct 12 '10 at 12:54
@Nailer: No, the trick is to find new interesting things at school, and learn them quickly and correctly by being able to work with experts. – user744 Oct 13 '10 at 8:54
@Joe: If you don't understand something, and can't seem to improve in it, it's boring. To overcome this first obstacle of boredom, it's great to have a course in it to get you started. A: You are eased into the subject. B: You get guidance when needed. C: You get extra motivation from teachers,students and grades. Of course, what you said is true too =) My courses were half and half. I sped through half of them with eagerness. The other half I finished reluctantly, but with great results. – Nailer Oct 13 '10 at 9:56

The question you need to ask first is "What do I want to do?" From what I understand, if you want to, say, make 3D models for games, or design AAA-style shooty-boom games, trade schools will probably serve you well. However, I remember a story Anna Anthropy told of quitting her tradeschool after they were assigned to make a 3D model of a gun. It had to be a weapon. Trade schools may have narrow views of the nature of games.

If you want to be a programmer and work on the code side, I'd say go for a proper Computer Science (or Software Engineering) degree at a "real university." Note that I'm biased, as I have a BS in CS from an engineering college. The general-purpose knowledge and versatile coding know-how you'll get will be invaluable, and give you something to fall back on if gaming jobs are thin.

If you want to design artsy games or really stretch the nature of the form, you might want to check out a school that's got a good New Media or Interactive Media program; Georgia Tech comes to mind, but there are tons of others. Note that this usually comes at games from a humanities perspective, so if you like English better than Math or Art, this is probably the approach for you.

So, in short, what subject most appeals to you?

  • Art, Architecture, Shop: Trade school.
  • Math, Science: CS or SE program at a university.
  • English, History: Humanities-focused program (harder to find).

I can't speak on music, as it's my area of least expertise. I'd assume that a general-purpose composition program would be best, though.

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If your goal is getting into the game industry as an artist, your portfolio is what is going to sell you, rather than your degree. I went to a university and then switched to a technical institute, but I would never have gotten a job based solely on the skills I learned there. The trick is to constantly supplement your education by educating yourself. If you have a degree in Game Art and Design but your portfolio is a mess, no one is going to hire you. If your portfolio is amazing but the school you went to isn't as well known, it's not going to be a big deal. They will hire you for your work.

As for supplementing your education, there are a lot of good ways to do this.

I'm a 2d artist, but there are similar methods for 3d art too. A good place to start focusing on specifics would be sites like gnomon, where you can get videos specified for very specific aspects in art, and ones that are more general. (Designing a weapon, or Animal Anatomy, for example.) They also have program-specific tutorials, like using Z-brush. (Since I just started here, I can't post hyperlinks more than once, so you will have to google these places to find them.) also has tutorial videos, and classes, and they also have an online school. It's pretty new though, so I can't guarantee quality, but the forums have been around forever and always have inspiration kicking around. I got my first game job by doing a contest on that site and having my entry seen by the Art Director, so doing contests I recommend for sure! (The one I did was the Character of the Week).

Art forums in general are a good way to guage how ready you are, get feedback, and learn new things. Other than CA, I also recommend CGHub, CGSociety, and Apedogs (smaller but awesome.) CG society also has some workshops.

Practice Practice Practice constantly. Work at your craft. Get feedback, get your work out there, get noticed.

Hope this helps. :]

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I've spoken with a couple of artists in the industry on this very topic, and the general consensus has been that some of the best game artists are those that have a very deep traditional art education that they either learned through school or on their own. For example, a strong traditional art background can have a very significant impact an artist's textures.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to your question, as there are great traditional and trade institutions you can learn from. What I would recommend is looking into the schools individually and deciding whether or not they are a good match for you. Below are a couple of things you should look for in the school you plan on attending:

  • Mixture of traditional 2d & 3d art courses, in addition to game art specific curriculum
  • Exposure to different aspects of game art (prop modeling vs character modeling, organic modeling, texturing, rigging, special effects, animation, etc.)
  • Exposure to different tools
  • Exposure to different engines (Unreal/UDK, Source, Crytek, etc.)

Like many others, I would highly recommend supplementing your education by spending time on popular game art websites. I would even recommend asking your question to people there, to get their input. Lots of industry professionals hang out on those sites and offer free critiques and advice. It'd be a waste not to use such a valuable resource!

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You can kill two birds in one stone.

USC Interactive Media Division or USC Game Development

The Princeton Review rated USC as the number 1 Game Design school, Digipen rated 2nd.

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Now USC is my first choice, but if I couldn't get into USC that's where the rest of the problem lies. – Fletcher Robeison Oct 12 '10 at 0:54

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