To School or Not To School

by mc

Before I realized that I wanted to make video games, I had a pretty rough time in the world of academia.  I was an English major, with aspirations to “get paid and travel” but no aspirations to write travel guides.  Or really, to write anything for the public eye.  Or to publish.  But I was raised to believe in academia, either for a career or for an education or for some fulfillment, so after my degree I moved to NYC for graduate school for writing.  I hated it.  Everything was basic, obvious, and dumb and as a result my writing suffered.  I’d spent my whole life studying writing, and it came down to: read a lot, write a lot.  I dropped out after the first term.  

I owe 80k in loans for my BA, term in grad school, and a semester I spent at NYU for shits ‘n giggles.  I didn’t know anything about loans, my parents took them out in my name and said it was fine.  I really wish I had been more involved and less delusional and I really wished I had taken my time instead of rushing into more school.  But I can’t change the past.

Now I’ve been accepted to a really expensive graduate program for game design.  I’ve been offered a little money (under 1/10th of the cost) and the over all program will double my debt.  Owing more money than I’ve ever seen is terrifying.  But also, I’ve been learning a lot on my own.  I’ve been excited about what I learn, and I’m taking on great projects.  Do I need grad school?  The average game design job is a) scarce and b) pays less than the tuition of the program.  

My pro’s and con’s lists are all over the place.  If I go to this school I accept that it will be my life for the next two years, I will probably couch surf to avoid rent, it will leave me in insane debt and might lead to a job or friends or community or mentors or projects or something.  If I stay put, I already have a great community, friends, projects, and insane debt.  There are so many ways to learn without a degree, MIT is offering more and more online game classes.  The information is out there, and I’ve been good about going out and exploring this dream.  I left NYC originally to come back and learn all I could about gaming so I could move back to NYC with a plan, and it’s all coming together but I can’t tell if that’s what I want anymore.