I’m going to continue the “A Letter to My Younger Self” series that I started over the summer. This time I will write a letter to my 18 year old self. A person who decided he was going to follow dreams that have unfortunately left me in serious financial trouble. I won’t exactly shatter this poor kid’s dream, I just need to warn him that there are better ways he could go about the decision he will make down the road.
Dear 18 year old me,
So after relentlessly gaming and devoting several hours of your life to designing ideas for games and teaching yourself how to make music you’re positive you want to plunge into the world of game design. That’s some pretty solid music you got right there and I promise you you’ll only mature with time. I’m here to tell you that though there’s nothing wrong with making a career out of making video games and music for video games, there is however an issue with how you’re gonna plan on going about it. You believe that going to a college that has the degree “Computer Game Design” attached to it and walking out with a degree like that will instantly get you a job in that feel. I’m here to warn you that you’re wrong in the worse way possible. I’m not saying don’t chase your dreams, I’m saying that you need to get a degree in something else and develop those skills on the side. Game companies don’t care if you don’t have that degree, they just need someone who knows what they’re doing in what ever job they’re going for. I know this doesn’t make sense to you now but it will when you realize seven years down the line that you it hits you that you spent $120,000 on a degree that won’t get you anywhere. Get a more generalized degree like “Computer Science” and hangout with the gamers and get your design/music experience through helping them with their projects. At least with a Computer Science degree you can get work in other computer related fields to hold you over while waiting for that dream job or better yet, make your own damn game with the knowledge you already have. You were smart enough to teach yourself music and you were smart enough to teach yourself computers and home theater asembley. You don’t need to spend that much money to learn how to make video games. Teach yourself and form your own teams and make your own games yet at the same time find a stable field of work where you’re always guaranteed a job. You think working in the game industry is glamorous but it isn’t. Two years for now some really bad things are going to happen with the banks that will cause this financial calamity called the recession. People will get laid off by the millions and the lack of people buying video games for the sake of saving their money will cause the industry to take a serious hit. Companies will shutter and the ones that remain will be complete assholes about who they hire. Soon it won’t be enough just to be talented, you’ll have to know someone and if your connections suck then you have no chance of getting in. The game industry will become an exclusive club where your only way in is to know someone but yet the industry is so fickle that if a company happens to fall under, you’re screwed. You wanna make games, get a programer, an artist, a level designer, and a writer and you have yourself a block buster without ever having to endure the pain of rejection from a job position. Don’t wait for a company to hire you just so you can only realize their dream. Realize your own dream on the side and go for a field where you’ll always find work. Don’t do it to yourself. I’m in debt with no way to pay it back except maybe for a miracle. Some of the greatest companies were started out of a garage or their mother’s basement. Steve Jobs built Apple from his garage and he didn’t need a degree to to it. I’m not condoning dropping out of school, I’m just saying you need to play your cards a bit better. I’m sure this letter will help you more than it can help me.