Wanting to become a game developer, need some studying information

Hello there,
I have gained quite a large interest in game development and i am hoping to one day make a career out of it, i am looking for a university in Cape Town which could get me a degree in a 'game development' related field. My main problem isn't really finding the university but more what degrees/courses to take. My main goal is to be able to complete an entire game from scratch ( modeling, code, design, basically everything besides music related things) I don't plan on being a one man show but i would like to be an all rounder and THEN specify. I have searched everywhere and i still don't quite understand between game design and game programming (i have also heard of a game development course which i am equally ignorant about) I am not sure what type of degrees i should get, like a bachelors or a higher certificate. I am in the process of learning at home but i think i could really benefit from a degree.
Anyway as you can tell i am a quite lost
so any help is welcomed,


  • I think UCT has a game design course, but not 100%. Another place I know of is Friends of Design (http://friendsofdesign.net/)

    If you are looking for a bachelors then the one at UCT ( if there is actually one ) would be your best option as FoD only offer higher certificates. There aren't really Universities in South Africa that have Game Development/Game Design as a full course, the other Public University that I know of is Wits and what I've heard it sounds like a good course, but it's split into programming and art.

    I don't think you'll find a course that offers everything in one as there is a lot of stuff to be learned in just one field already so you might have to do some self study ( you'll anyway do lots of self-study ).

    Game programming is basically just "normal" programming applied to make a game. Whereas game design is a bit more in-depth, looking at the mechanics and the "feel" of the game. Game design is not just applicable on video games ( digital games ) but can also be applied on making tabletop games as well. Game design can also involve examining the elements of the game, such as its impact on the psyche, its impact on societal change etc but not sure if stuff like that is taught. Game designers are mostly the "brain" behind the game and the game programmer writes the code to put the components together ( much more intricate process than just those 2 elements being involved )

  • edited
    As I understand it UCT offers a course they have been calling "game design" which is really "game programming" and has nothing to do with the field of game design (the UCT course is a science course, whereas "game design" is in the field of arts). (Though my understanding is that UCT has recently renamed the course)

    Is this perhaps where your confusion about the difference between programming and design arises?

    Just to expand on @ThatGuySA's thoughts.

    "Game Design" is designing games the way architects design buildings, or industrial designers design washing machines, or curriculum designers at universities design educational courses. A designer is someone who creates something to solve a problem, and in this case a game designer is someone who creates a game to deliver the desired experience.

    "Game Programming" usually refers to writing the code that makes up the video game. This is also about solving problems, but the problems are technical in nature where the problems of the designer are experiential in nature.

    In small game development teams (like 2 to 5 people) it is normal for everyone to do a bit of the game design because everyone has a say in what the game should be. Though sometimes one person, or more than one person, specializes in game design, in which case they have a much larger role in deciding on what the game experience should be.

    In small teams it's quite common for team members to wear a lot of hats. If there is a specialist designer it's quite common that they also help with game programming or art.

    If you are working by yourself you will be doing all of the game design and also all of the game programming. If you do find you want to specialize in game design it's a good thing to understand all the other aspects of game development. One of the hardest parts of game design is knowing what your team is capable of, it's easy to underestimate a task and find yourself with an unfinishable game or a game that fails to deliver on the experience it promises and so disappoints players.
    ThatGuySA said:
    you'll anyway do lots of self-study
    This really can't be emphasized enough. Game development is a massive field and if you are planning on being able to cover a little bit of it all you're going to have to pick up more skills than any one course offers. Obviously find a course that gives you a good start, but know that there's a lot you are going to have to pick up on your own (or with friends here on these forums or places like this).

    At the same time, I think the goal you've set yourself is an awesome goal. It is really empowering to be able to do it all yourself, even if you can't do it all very well, it means you can make something someone might enjoy regardless of your circumstances and who you can rely on, and there's nothing I find more satisfying than having someone enjoy something I've made.
  • You can also try University of Pretoria's Multimedia course. It is heavy programming oriented, so you will need to love programming a lot, but also contains designing. It is a good blend between programming and designing even though it is not really a "Game design" course, the final year project is a game project.
  • Just a note, generally courses at colleges that refer to "game design" actually mean "game art" via "graphic design for games" because that's what they understand. They tend to focus on tools and skills in 3D modeling, animation, etc.

    Whatever course you're interested in looking at, do your research: Speak to graduates of that course (if the course can't give you any graduates to talk to, stay away!), ask them for their curriculum and examine it, google the lecturers, see if you can find portfolios from people that have been on that course, generally find as much information about it as possible.
  • I'd say read books, i cant stress that enough...

    Start with ....foundation game design with html5 and JavaScript.... My 15 year old brother has improved greatly with his studies after reading that book. He also won gold medal for mathematics, natural and physical science. The book will teach you how to program from beginners to intermediate... At the same time the book teaches both game programming and game design. What's good about this book is that the writer is so good at explaining things that you dont even have to sit in front of the computer to understand even things that are in motion... After reading this book you should be able to create simple websites,interactive storybooks and of cause simple games... U won't be the master but you will have enough knowledge to roll on yr own. The author also has an advanced book following this one, which my brother is currently reading...

    But anyway goodluck
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