You love games and they are a big part of your life. You are passionate about it and want to be a game designer in the future. As a result you are looking for a game design degree program to have a proper game design education. However is it really needed?
From my personal experience having a game design degree helps but it is not absolutely a must. When you work in a game studio you will realize that most people there does not really have a degree specialize in games. The reason is because the game industry is skill orientated and as long as you have the ability that they are looking for you will have a good chance of being hired. As a result a game design degree cert had less value compare to people with the right skill set. You will be surprise that certain master degree holder can be earning less money comparing to someone that have no formal education but is excellent in what he/she does. You will also be surprise to meet some people that have education background that is totally not related to the game industry like marketing or finance but still manage to get a job in there.
To be honest there are a fair number of modders (people that create mods for games) get hired as designers regardless of their background education. This is because their skills are shown in the mods they made. The mod itself will show how well the user can use the game editor and how well they can produce a fun game. If the game studio likes what they had done, they will be hired.
However taking a game design degree course does have its own advantages. Since the program is tailored to produces future designers, it will have courses that will help improve your skills quicker and make sure you are ready once you graduate. But like any other education programs it really depends on you and how much you are willing to learn. If you are lazy and keep skipping classes then surely you will learn nothing, though wasting your money. However if you take the initiative to learn and practice those skills then you can be the gem that the game industry needs.
Another advantage of taking a game degree course is the opportunity to meet like minded people. Not only is it fun to study together but any of these friends can be an important person in the future and that will help your career a lot. If there is one secret to have a successful career, that will be the people you know that can get you in and hopefully you have the required skills to hold on to that position. So don’t be a lone ranger and ignore this opportunity.
In conclusion having a game design degree does helps but it really depends on how you receive you game design education. After all it is you skill to produce fun and rewarding games that counts and if you have that, you will be a wanted person in the industry.