Places to study "game dev"

I've had someone ask me if I can suggest somewhere to study game dev in South Africa.

I know that term will probably mean 12 different things at different institutions, but I just wanted to find out if we had a combined list somewhere of places locally that offer anything close to what could be considered game dev?
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  • edited
    For completeness (I know you don't need to hear this, Matt, but for the casual reader): when I provide lists like these, I usually want to add that a "game-specific" school often isn't any better than a more regular education. This is a global thing, as I've seen regular complaints in the UK and the US too. In many cases, the "game" courses are simply worse, placing a lot of emphasis on going through the motions of adding assets to a project and hitting play, and much less on the behind-the-scenes knowledge of art foundations, maths/physics, etc. This wouldn't be so bad if all of that extra time was spent on iteration, play-testing and exploring design spaces, but it usually deteriorates into a software training workshop (in which case there are so many free tuts all over the place that it may be hard to justify the tens of thousands of rands spent on a course).

    So, as always, I'd recommend evaluating each school (or even each course) yourself, looking for who the lecturer(s) are, why they're qualified to teach this subject, what work they've done, what games they've made, and why it'd be any better to learn from them than anyone else. I'd look for how many of past students have found employment in the game industry, look at graduates' portfolios, and ask for contact details of the students whose portfolios look particularly impressive. I'd contact those students and ask them whether they'd recommend the school, and whether they did a whole lot of additional learning outside of the courses to get them where they are.

    Having said that, these are the schools that I can remember offering game courses or subjects. (These aren't recommendations, and they aren't in any particular order.)

    - Wits Digital Arts
    - Friends of Design
    - UCT
    - The Open Window
    - Learn 3D
    - City Varsity
    - CFAD
    Thanked by 3dammit roguecode pieter
  • Thanks a lot for the answer, I'll send this along exactly!
    Thanked by 1Elyaradine
  • Yes Elyaradine is correct - it's a good summary of how it is available but not default. When I was at wits we didn't have enough participants wanting to do game dev soy they didn't have the lessons, at Rhodes we didn't either but the fewer people ment we could regularly ask questions even if it wasn't what they needed us to do.

    The summery is chances are at universities you won't get a complete course. If the university they are at doesn't offer help - use us in the community, we always teach others and help them learn better (yes we do that with community meets).

    If you find 100% places let us know - being 7 years into getting a degree I know some things and haven't found some things. Sharing would be helpful.
  • From experience, Open window is a great place purely from a design standpoint.
    The Lecturers,students and are great
    3D modeling, Level Design, Animation ect.
    Very limited Programming.

  • I am currently in my first year studying BEngSc (Digital Arts) at Wits university. Let me tell you a little about how it works:

    There is an art side (BA) and an engineering side to this degree (I am on the engineering side). This year, they accepted about 25 students into each side, so we are a very small (comparitively) class of about 50.
    The artsies and the engies both come to the game design lessons and work together on making games.

    The engineering side:
    The other classes the engies have in first year are Engineering Mathematics (compromising of Algebra and Calculus), Engineering Physics, Electric Circuits and Mechanics. Look on the Wits website to findout what you will be doing in second and third year. After getting your BEngSc(Digital Arts) you can study an additional 2 years to obtain a BEng Information Engineering. This is a great move if you want job security and enjoy electronics and programming.

    The art side:
    You can choose which other classes you want along with game design. I'm not entirely sure which classes, probably the standard, but I don't want to misinform so it would be better to check it out on the website.

    Both artsies and engies are interchangable in the making of games. An artsie can do the programming whilst an engie can do the animation. The game design class ensures that both sides are fully equipped with all of the skills and knowledge necessary to make a successful game.

    Okay, so now I'm gonna tell you a bit about the actual game design course.
    In the first year, the course focusses on teaching the absolute fundamentals of making games and it breaks down all the elements found in a good game and teaches them to you one by one. This is why in the first year, you go back to the fundamentals of gaming itself and work with board games. You play board games, make board games, think board games. When I say board games, I'm not talking about Monopoly here - I'm talking about Catan, Munchkins, Seven Wonders, Terra Mystica, Dominion, the list goes on!
    The lecturers teach you about the different aspects of board games (which also apply to games in general) both traditionally with slides and lecturing to the students (in a much more personal environment because the class is so small) and also practically through hands-on experiences with playing games.
    Each block you are given 2 or 3 projects where you are put inyo a group with 4 of your classmates and have to make a game that follows the criteria given to you (obviously testing your knowledge on a newly learnt concept). The entire course is very practical (especially since you only write two written tests in the entirety of your studies in game design) but keep in mind that you will have to hand in written reports for you exam games.

    If you are wondering "where is the programming?!?" Do not worry, you are taught that in second year. You will learn how to make games in the Unity engine (C#) and you will also learn 3D animation. Both artsies and engies will learn these skills!
    In the engie side you will mainly learn C++ in second year but the wits website will have all the info.

    In summary: the game design degree at wits is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the gaming industry. I highly recommend it in that it does not just throw you in the deep end and tell you to make games without teaching you the fundamentals and skills necessary. The knowledge about making games that I gained from first year alone is astounding and I don't believe that I could have learnt this much without being a part of this course.

    I hope that I helped :)
    Thanked by 2Karuji pieter
  • My recommendation is that you teach yourself game development... I do not know where your level is and what are your interests, but every day I learn I find out that its getting hard day by day... I myself have taught myself going through game programming books... My first book was "Killer game programming in java" and that was in 2006. After reading the book I realised that I could not do a game the I became a little bit serious, started collecting game programming books like hell untill I ran out of money. Although I read more than 200 GP books, realized that most of them are crappy books. They will teach you hardcore skills like combining a small engine and making a very small game at the end. Most of this books purpose were to show how to build small engine using XNA or directX and also how to write programable shaders at the end... Fast forwarding 2010, most books were written for game implementation instead of behind the scenes. So things look a little bit easy, but easy in game development is still depresing to say the list... So one other option is to look at online tutorials. But first be warned, online tutorials are written by professionals for professionals. Meaning beginners are not taken into consideration... For example in a book when at author teaches about rotation, they give you theoretical knowledge first of vectors, how to,move vectors, how to get length between vectors, how to normalize them, and how to use trigonometry to rotate them. On the other hand on online tutorials they just hit you with the code and expect you to make sense out of it and there are 90% chances that it wont even compile and the author of the tutorial won't respond to your questions. So investing in books will save you much more headache.
  • I think @Elyaradine covered the list of places. UP has a game dev course in 3rd year multimedia, but I wouldn't really say that is a place that really has a focus on game dev. I think most places have differing focuses when it comes to game dev.

    @roguecode a totally biased recommendation from me is Wits, but err I study/work there so take it with a pinch of salt. That said I really enjoy my time there and I get to do a lot of fun and interesting things. The course didn't exist when I started making games so just picking up an engine, running through tutorials, and just making games is always going to get a recommendation from me – even if you're studying game dev somewhere.

    I think it's important to keep in mind what you want to get out of the place you go to: Wits offers really strong design since it runs as the core throughout both the degrees. Open Window focuses on visual arts with a variety of what they have to offer. And UCT is focused on programming and offers game design from second year. Aside from Wits and UP I've only heard about the courses through other people who went there. So @atomicdomb studied at UCT, IIRC @iceblademush taught at City Varsity, so they might be good to ask about those places :)

    @Aimzj Eng students can also do a 1 year BA Digital Arts (Hons) after their 3 years in the BEngSci. I know a lot BA people do Psychology, but any humanities subject that can fit into the timetable is ok ;)
    Thanked by 1pieter
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