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Educational Feature: From Teacher to Student

Educational Feature: From Teacher to Student

October 21, 2008 | By Jill Duffy

When a teacher decides to leave his day job and attend game development school, he likely has different criteria than most high school students when looking for a program. Allen Brooks was a drama teacher who is now studying animation, with hopes of one day working in the game industry, and he shares his story with readers in a recently posted article.

Brooks was a video game player for years but fell into teaching before he realized working in the game industry might be the better career path for him. In this excerpt, Brooks explains how his school search first got underway:

"I started sifting through the long list of job ads that turned up on Google Reader every few hours, curious whether or how my existing skills fit into the game industry. Not experienced enough here; no working knowledge there; too few shipped games (none, actually) over there, and on it went. I applied to a few jobs on a whim, got turned down by all, and even got a free trip to California for my troubles. (If you can make it through life by simply being flown around for job interviews, weekends on the company dime are pretty sweet.) But as it continued, I realized that I needed one thing, if nothing else, to get me in the door: firm training in video game development.

A new search commenced shortly thereafter: the school search.

It's hard to decide to go back to school after you've had a career job. You lose not only pay and benefits, but your ability to contribute to a household. I am extremely lucky in that I have a wonderful wife who is supportive of my goals. She and I are working on this together, saving so that I can afford to not work for the duration of my game development training.

When deciding what to go back to school for, I had to first eliminate some things I knew I wouldn't want to do: I can't code, I certainly don't want to work the counter at a game store, and I'd like to think I'm an artist.

My goal was to find a school that would prepare me to get a job in the game industry, not just, for lack of a better term, pretend to. As I inquired about different programs, I started getting inundated with information.

At first, it was pretty easy to sift through the chaff. The school that advertises at 3:00 a.m. on FX wasn't exactly what I was looking for. Some of the more credible schools, while enticing, were more extensive than I needed, seeing as I already have a BA under my belt. I wasn't about to take a whole bunch of gen-eds again. The other factor that played into this is that I am an adult, and a professional for the most part. I own my home. I'm married. And I can't just up and move across the country for an education. If I could, I ought to find someplace relatively close to my home in the Washington D.C. area, which is not exactly known for gaming. It's more a politics and prose kind of place.

To be fair, D.C. does in fact have a rich gaming community. I just didn't find this out until I started to look at the industry a bit more closely.

To be honest, my wife was the one who eventually found the school that I ended up enrolling in."

To read more about the program Brooks found -- and is currently enrolled in -- and to read his list of six major considerations both adult professionals and students should make before settling on an educational program, see the complete article on

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