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Old 08-23-2012, 08:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: Graduate Degree Options for Aspiring Producer

Hey Cube - I think I could really give you an honest opinion as I was exactly where you are and considering an AP (Associate Producer) job, as I thought it required the least specialized skill set and because I graduated from a highly-ranked, prestigious university and loved video games above all else and am a really smart guy that I would be hired at a AAA studio. Obviously, life had beaten me down and that was not the case, but I truly believe I have a wealth of knowledge for someone who has graduated from a university, gone down a path in life, then decided (and possibly they think too late) that they will never be happy unless they do something they are passionate about - work in a AAA video game studio. There are a few routes from your point in life and I have thoroughly researched them all, including Grad Schools, and really think I can give you an honest profile on all the big ones (SMU Guildhall, DigiPen MSc, CMU ETC, USC Interactive, UCF FIEA). I haven't logged on here in years and only did because I saw your post in a Google search and I think I can help you out from my learnings and experiences with the industry in the past few years. Be W-A-R-Y of info you may get on here - there are some very helpful people, but I have also found quite a few bitter people who try to discourage you from trying to enter the industry or tell you that it's not worth it because it's not as great as what your nostalgic childlike fantasies tell you, or it's too difficult or volatile, or, for some reason unbeknownst to me, are just plain rude, as if young people asking for advice is an annoyance or a burden. Maybe they don't understand how much that can upset an eager, excited young passionate person, as they have grand hopes and visions of creating the games that they love and grew up with, and even though it may not be the miracle dream, nor as easy as they think, there is no reason to completely destroy a hopeful person's dreams and cause them to believe it's not all that great and they should get a stable, conventional job (that makes a creative person want to jump off a cliff) instead, which is what happened to me, and what I did for 3 years of my life after graduating, where I made more in management consulting than I probably will ever see in the industry, but wanting to off myself everyday at the same time. Luckily, I finally realized I couldn't handle being so unhappy any longer and took the plunge. If entering the industry is what you truly believe you want to do with your life, do not even read those responses. Yes it will be difficult, but with the right plan and proper execution of that plan, it is very feasible.

First thing: Why do you want to be a producer? Do you want to create video games on some level, or do you want to use Excel all day to manage scope, budget, timeline for a large scale software project? Because you don't need to enter the industry for that. As I said above, I originally thought about production, as I thought it was my best shot because it didn't require that specialized a skill set, and I get the feeling you believe your management experience leading a platoon, and maybe a company if you get the railroad tracks (Yup, I was a USMC brat and grew up on base my entire childhood), will qualify you for project management above all else. However, the problem with production is that it's damn near impossible to get your first job I found. Unlike being a programmer, artist, animator, or level designer, you cannot submit a portfolio, unless you consider yours to be a deeply impassioned cover letter, which I found will do nothing, despite your skill with prose. Many people who are AP's get there via QA unfortunately, and others come from other disciplines - you were a CS undergrad, would you not be interested in programming? Production is so un-substantiave, that for example, at Guildhall, production will be your secondary focus esentially, as you still need to choose one of their main tracks: programming, art, or level design (80% of their students I have found). Is there something else you think you may be interested in? If you liked coding, game programming can be especially satisfying in terms of the problems you will get to solve. If you want to move away from the technical level of your CS studies, you should look at level design, which is a common entry-level position (entry-level after you have built up some serious skills (Maya, 3DMax) and with engines/dev kits (UE3, Source, Skyrim Creation Kit) and created some damn good mods, which you can do on your own, or in a program like Guildhall. A level design position can lead to becoming a game designer, and eventually a lead or executive designer, or it can also lead to project management if you still want to go that route with production. But the important thing is to get into the industry first, and you cannot build a demo to be a producer unfortunately. Do you think there are any other areas you would be interested in?

Last edited by AcuraSpeed : 08-23-2012 at 09:27 AM.
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