I know this question is asked a lot but I am still so confused and overwhelmed by the different opinion and comments everybody has on the internet, that I wanted to ask my questions in a single thread and get the answered by you. I would really appreciate it if you could spend a couple of minutes reading this as I don't have anybody near me to talk to about this.

I'm about to finish High School (I have one year left) and until last year what I wanted to do with my life was pursue a degree in fields such as Accounting/Finance or Medicine since those are the "most competitive" ones and where most of the $$ are made. I was all about the money and recently I finally understood the importance of studying and doing what I really care and dream about and that such competitive fields would wipe out people like me who are not really "dedicated". Anyways, as the title says, I'm into games, but I'm not that average type of guy who is interested in this just because he has played lots of games in his childhood and thinks that would do great at this.

The thing is that even though I want to immerse myself in the gaming industry, I still don't know what specific jobs consist of, mainly the Game Designer and the Game Programmer (this is the same as a Game Developer right?). To give you an idea of what I can do, I am great at math, photoshop, I'm creative, curious and following my "leader instincts" I want to just not be "the tool" of someone while working (while I do acknowledge that I will have a boss who will be above me, the company's owner for example), but I do not want to be the person who will be with a group of other people who do the same thing. What I'm trying to say is that I want to come up with the idea of the game, sketch it, bring it to life and even decide what the world, characters and story will look like, but I don't want to just design the characters or the world of the game because someone else came up with it and now I'm just bringing to life their project. I don't want to be just the "drawer" or the Game's Art designer. I want to be independent and even give rules (yeah, I know, not right away most probably), but I want to be the one to give life to my own project.

On the other hand, I haven't tried programming but I do have solid math skills as I said and I don't want to just "toss" them. I haven't tried coding but from what I've been reading, some people say C++ is a nightmare. Is it really so "cut with knife" and already defined, that you can either go full artistic and be the visual dude, or the game designer, or go fully scientific and be the one to deal with the system of the game and be the programmer? Because as I said I really lean towards the designing part more, but I would like to code and not be totally ignorant on that part. I do want to code, but I would totally HATE to be the guy who deals with the numbers only. Yeah I want to do some of that, but designing, choosing the characters' sprites, costumes, gameplay, effects, storyline, etc. etc. seems much more interesting to me.

Another thing that bothers me the most is what I will study in University? I wont study in the US, although it's a dream of mine, but I can't afford it as an international student, so it would be a bit different for you who are from there and try to answer this, but I've seen most people recommend Computer Science, who say that a programmer can always become a designer in the future, but a designer can't do the programming part if he doesn't have any knowledge in that area. I've already read and "studied" the mythology, am educated in literature am thinking of taking psychology classes in my last High School year, but really, what do you suggest? I've seen universities offer classes for Digital Media or even Game Designing, but from what I've read this is a pretty new field and it wont help if I choose this major in university? Should I really go for a Computer Science degree? To make it clear to you, I HATE physics, I hope I wont be dealing with that. If I choose this route, how will I learn certain aspects of designing, such as animation, etc.?

I'm sorry for the huge text but I'm really confused and I feel like this is a really important part of my life, and being close to university I really need to make a decision fast, so that I can prepare myself as soon as I can.

Thank you very much.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Programmer. You can apply that skill to design, coding and fields outside games, whereas design you can only apply to design. In my opinion. \$\endgroup\$ – Patrick Hughes Mar 25 '13 at 0:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd say don't worry about what people say about programming languages at this point. Some people love C++ (me), some people hate it. Just like any other thing anywhere I say decide on this major before worrying about programming languages, or anything relatively deep, you might get the wrong impression. At least that's what I think... \$\endgroup\$ – Luke San Antonio Bialecki Mar 25 '13 at 0:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's no correct answer to this question, I'm voting to close. See the FAQ for some sites that would be better for discussion oriented questions like this one. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Mar 25 '13 at 0:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also it's probably better to ask somewhere else, here at a game development Q&A site your going to get game development biased answers. So you should keep that in mind... \$\endgroup\$ – Luke San Antonio Bialecki Mar 25 '13 at 0:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Honestly I'm not sure if there's anywhere appropriate to ask a question like this. The only person capable of providing the right answer is the OP. \$\endgroup\$ – Apples Mar 25 '13 at 0:39

You need to be a programmer and an artist...

...but lean heavily towards one side.

Game design is both of these things.

Programming is not hard. Programming is one of the easiest aspects of game development. Learning C++ is hard. Using C++ is the opposite of hard. The same goes for most programming languages.

A cabinet maker can design all the cabinets he wants, but unless he has knowledge of woodworking, the cabinets will never get built.

You don't need to be a good programmer. There are tons of development suites that take care of the heavy lifting. Take a look at Unity. Unity is widely considered to be incredibly easy to use, but you still need to know how to program to use it.

It all depends on the tools you use. If you use Unity, you should be an "artist with knowledge of programming". If you create an engine in C++, you should be a "programmer with knowledge of art". It is senseless to limit yourself to one or the other.

Find a friend.

If you want to focus on the artistic side of things, find a programmer to help manifest your ideas. Similarly, if you decide to be a programmer, you should find an artist to create all of the visuals.

It is a bad idea to try to have equal skill of programming and art. Take a look at any indie game created by one person. If that person is a programmer, the game looks bad. If that person is an artist, the game is technically impaired. If the person is "both", the game is simply bad. (Although there is the occasional demigod who needs no help.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Interesting end section with the friend and one-man-indie-game. \$\endgroup\$ – Luke San Antonio Bialecki Mar 25 '13 at 0:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with the last sentence. There are talented people out there. \$\endgroup\$ – user1306322 Mar 25 '13 at 0:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Programming is not hard"... I wonder why I've spent the last 20 years of my life learning programming, and every day I feel more I won't ever be able to master everything there is to know about it. \$\endgroup\$ – Panda Pajama Mar 25 '13 at 4:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not hard. There is just a pretty much unlimited amount of things to do and learn. \$\endgroup\$ – Aleks Mar 25 '13 at 6:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ But.. that's the problem, I have no idea. I have never programmed, how do I know? I know I know, you'd be like "Don't ask us, start programming and then see how it works for you", but I don't know where to start, I'm just so overwhelmed. And I don't know if I'll learn what would be taught in schools.I tried learning HTML once but online I couldn't do much and I dropped it after a couple of days because it was very theoretical and I was dealing for the very first time with it. Do I need to start as a programmer or jump to the game design courses in university right away? Isn't it, too specific? \$\endgroup\$ – John Simpson Mar 26 '13 at 23:03

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