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Game industry studies in Poland. What university would be the best choice? Is it possible to study for free?


ImmortalizedRyan
10 Dec 2021 #1
Hello! I'm a Belarusian, currently studying at Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics. Right now I'm finishing my third semester in the specialty Information Systems and Technologies in the gaming industry. Although I would like to develop my skills in this sphere, I feel like I'm just wasting my time. The reason is the studying program in my university. We study subjects, that were actual 20 years ago, read lots of studying manuals that were written decades ago, learn subjects that are pretty useless for gaming industry (for example, Java, metrology, safety of human activity in factories and so on). It's also heavily relied on mobile games market, and this is not what I would like to do. I wanna work with, for example, Unreal Engine, not Unity. I wanna learn to create beautiful story-driven computer games, not money-pumping apps. Right now studying for me is hard and worthless responsibility and I don't think that anything will change if I stay in Belarus. I don't really have enough time for anything besides university. I don't have enough time to learn something really interesting and useful for me, well, at least, if I try, it takes really long time. It would be totally fine if the information I get at university were useful, but it's not. And I don't really see any opportunities after graduation, at least in my country, because I don't wanna work in mobile games market. And, looking at what is happening in Belarus right now, I wouldn't like to stay here. And I don't think that anything will change soon, that's why I'm writing this post.

Summarizing, here is the questions:
1. I want to study game industry in Poland, oriented on beautiful story-driven computer games (something like CD Project Red do). Specifically, I would like to study game design, management and/or Unreal Engine and C++ programming. What university will suit my interests the best? What choice would be the best?

2. Is it possible to continue my studying? I mean, not starting from the very beginning, but starting from the third semester, for example.

3. Is it possible to study for free? Unfortunately, I don't have enough money to study for a fee. At the moment I am studying at the expense of the state budget (which means that I don't have to pay anything, at least until I get a diploma) and I have a pretty high grade point average, 8.5/10. Maybe it can somehow help me to at least lower the studying prices in Poland?

4. What are the chances that I will get education in Poland? For free? Or at least for a fee?

5. Is it worth it at all?

Thanks in advance
Atch 22 | 4,128
11 Dec 2021 #2
Unreal Engine

You can learn to use this yourself by simply downloading it (it's free). Create a simple game to explore the functionalities and possibilities of it and put the completed article into your portfolio of work.

You can also learn C++ yourself. Using Bjarne Stroustrup's book 'The C++ Programming Language' you can learn the basics of C++ in six months.

Don't wait to get accepted to your dream university - take action yourself now. Small, consistent efforts will pay off. A year from now you will be further along the path to where you want to be. If you just wait, nothing will change.

Also, no university anywhere in the world is going to provide the kind of degree you describe. All they do is cover a lot of general stuff and the rest is up to you.

Is it possible to continue my studying?

You need to contact the individual college that interests you and ask them or check on their website. Every college has different policies in that respect. The term you're looking for is 'advanced entry' btw :)

Is it possible to study for free?

gov.pl/web/polishaid/solidarity-with-belarus---nawa-scholarships-for-students-scientists-and-teachers

If you want to study in Poland a good university for you if you want to work in games development is the Polsko-Japońska Akademia Technik Komputerowych (Polish Japanese Academy of Technology). If you take your Bachelors in computer science with them, they have a games development specialisation option in your final year. They have a good reputation and there is plenty of practical work. You'll study both Java and C++. Salary surveys show that their graduates are paid the most of all computer science graduates in Poland. They have discounts for students from Belarus. They have colleges in Warsaw and Gdansk.
ImmortalizedRyan - | 7
11 Dec 2021 #3
@Atch
Thanks for the answer!
I fully agree with you. I have already made 2 small indie-games on Unreal Engine. I even had an interview with Mundfish recruiter (developers of Atomic Heart, if you know). And it wasn't even my initiative, they found me themselves. But I didn't get a job because I cannot work full-time. And it was frustrating, because university deprived me of the opportunity to work on a cool project. It is really hard, time-consuming and mostly useless to study (at least where I am right now) and I cannot really develop myself any further. And I don't know what to do. On the one side, I can stop getting higher education and learn things I think are more essential to me. And there will be no problems as it was with Mundfish. On the other hand, if I don't get higher education I can face some problems. I mean, maybe it's not that essential nowadays, but sometimes it can help finding a better job. And if I don't find a job outside Belarus immediately, I will be drafted to the army, and I really don't want this to happen. I don't know if you know anything about Belarusian army (or Russian, they're almost the same), but almost every Belarusian tries to get rid of it.

Atch - gov.pl/web/polishaid/solidarity-with-belarus---nawa-scholarships-for-students-scientists-and-teachers

Is it still actual? Because the article was written a year ago. And I didn't find any new particular information on this topic.
And also another question. Do I have to apply for the university in Summer or it depends on the exact college?

Atch - Polsko-Japońska Akademia Technik Komputerowych

It looks quite interesting, but it's also one of the most expensive institutions in Poland. Even if I cover with scholarships 50% of the fees somehow, it will be still quite expensive for me :(

Maybe you could share your thoughts on these universities I found?
1. Akademia Finansów i Biznesu Vistula
2. Wyższa Szkoła Europejska im. ks. Józefa Tischnera
3. Wyższa Szkoła Informatyki i Zarządzania w Rzeszowie
mafketis 37 | 10,904
11 Dec 2021 #4
your thoughts on these universities I found?

the names all scream "private diploma mills" (to be fair I didn't look them up but that's what the names suggest, private institutions are mostly... not very good here). Also, some schools claim to have international programs in English... but don't really.... (a friend worked for one).

The tricky part is getting out of Belarus... once you're in Poland it shouldn't be hard to find some kind of job (if you have more than survival level Polish) while examine your options, so that should be concern number one (I'm sure you realize that, but for the benefit of other readers).
ImmortalizedRyan - | 7
11 Dec 2021 #5
mafketis - private institutions are mostly... not very good here

So, I should only look at public ones? What about Polsko-Japońska Akademia Technik Komputerowych then? Is it an exception? Or maybe it's just the best out of private institutions?

mafketis - some schools claim to have international programs in English... but don't really...

That's not a problem for me, if I'm going to study or work in Poland, I will definitely learn Polish.

mafketis - The tricky part is getting out of Belarus...

Exactly! That's why I'm asking this questions (I'm sorry if some of them are stupid). I need to know as much as I can. I wanna be 90% sure that I can move to Poland and that I won't fall in problems I wouldn't be able to solve.
jon357 74 | 22,042
11 Dec 2021 #6
What about Polsko-Japońska Akademia Technik Komputerowych then? Is it an exception?

It has an excellent reputation.
Atch 22 | 4,128
13 Dec 2021 #7
I don't know what to do

Keep calm and make a plan :)
Short term plan - number one priority should be to stay out of the army. Best way to be certain of that is to remain in university for now. Your degree may be boring and obstructing your professional development but see it as a means to an end. Exploit it for what you can get, which is freedom from being drafted into the army. Even if that's the only reason to stay in university it's a very good reason!

university deprived me of the opportunity to work on a cool project.

Not really. You had a choice and you chose to stick with uni instead of taking a job. That's ok. We all have to make difficult choices sometimes and we may regret the road we took but you're young. You'll still find a way :) For what it's worth I think you made the right choice. I wouldn't give up university no matter how boring and irrelevant to work for a Russian games company. Do you really want a Russian employer? :)) Games companies, even the best ones, don't have a great reputation for how they treat their staff. It's an industry that really does chew people up and spit them out and there have been plenty of allegations by Mundfish staff that the company is a nightmare to work for. Your degree may be boring and irrelevant but it's a degree and that piece of paper is always worth having. The really useful learning is industry based and the first two years of working will be your true apprenticeship but for now, carrying on with your degree was a good decision.

I don't know if you're aware Ryan (I'll shorten you if you don't mind!) that games development right across the board, in every country, pays the lowest developer salaries and has the longest working hours and a lot of what's called 'crunches' where the team has to work for weeks at a time with no days off to meet crazy deadlines. These crunches happen partly because of incompetent management who don't know how to properly plan projects. But if you really want to be a game developer, then go for it and see where it takes you and very best of luck with it.

Anyway, you have two goals. One is get out of Belarus and the other is to work in the game development industry.

maybe it's just the best out of private institutions?

No, Polish Japanese Academy is one of the best of all, public or private. You won't regret studying there. But Mafketis is right that most Polish private universities offer worthless diplomas and degrees. The only issue I can see is that you don't have a certificate of competency in the Polish language and may have to choose the English language option. Maybe you should start studying Polish more intensely now with a view to passing that exam.

If you've decided on Poland for study, then do things the Polish way. Forget about free studies. Most Polish students only study part time and they pay their tuition fees by working. The courses are delivered at weekends. Aim to get yourself an entry level, junior developer job in Warsaw (młodszy programista). Most junior developers are still studying so it's quite possible to get a job long before you finish your studies. On your CV say that you intend to apply to transfer your studies to Poland. You just want to earn money to support yourself in the first stage of your plan. If you're not having any luck with developer roles, try for games tester. There are plenty of opportunities there though salaries are not as good but it's a start. Junior developer salaries tend start at around 4,000zl per month in Warsaw for somebody without a degree or experience, games tester around 3,000zl but the developer salaries increase quite quickly and also if you're under 26, you won't have to pay tax on such a low salary. It will be a struggle at first but it's do-able.

Here is a link to a site showing living costs in Warsaw. It's fairly accurate. But as for rent, your best option to save money on that is to just rent a room in an apartment shared with others. Basically you get a bedroom with a lock and you share the kitchen and bathrooms.

numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/Warsaw

Here's an example of a room to rent in the city centre. Rent is 700 and there could be extra bills so budget for 1,000zl:

morizon.pl/oferta/wynajem-mieszkanie-warszawa-srodmiescie-bednarska-20m2-mzn2039284040

Apply to the Polish Japanese Academy next year (don't worry about how you can pay for it, just apply!) When you get accepted it will look good on job applications 'currently in second year of studies in Belarus, accepted for Polish Japanese Academy blah, blah etc etc). Fees can be paid in monthly installments btw. And just keep looking for a job. If you find one, move to Poland (don't take a remote job if you can avoid it. It's very hard to work remotely on a first job in the industry and you want to get yourself physically to Poland asap!). And yes you apply sometime around May for Polish universities. However they usually continue accepting applications up until late August for the part time study options.

I have already made 2 small indie-games on Unreal Engine.

That's brilliant! :)) That's exactly the approach to take. Keep going on small projects and it will pay off. I'd suggest that for your next project maybe consider designing a bigger game and then making one playable level of it and try to ensure that you will learn something new from each project. Create a profile on LinkedIn if you don't already have one as other recruiters may find you and it makes you look professional. I assume you've already made some kind of website to showcase yourself and your work. You have lots of passion which really comes across in your communication and you are obviously a very hard worker. Somebody will recognize that and you will get your chance :))

Btw you mentioned CD Project Red, but do you know this other Polish company, People Can Fly? They made The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, a really beautiful game.

peoplecanfly.com/career/#how-we-fly

Finally here's a Polish programmer's forum which you may find useful:

//4programmers.net/

That's all I think of for the moment :))
mafketis 37 | 10,904
13 Dec 2021 #8
start studying Polish more intensely now with a view to passing that exam

The problem is not drawing attention to himself, I imagine young, educated people who show a sudden interest in Polish might become the target of government... scrutiny...

IME educated Russian speakers (knowing no other Slavic language) become functional in a month or so and fluent in a few months.
If he knows Belarusian (or has had it at school) Polish will be even easier.

I also always recommend this channel...

youtube.com/c/PozdrowieniazPolski/featured

All in Polish and the teacher has super clear diction (and it's kind of clear many/most of her real life students are Russian speakers and many videos are specifically about mistakes they, as opposed to English or German speakers, are liable to make...).
Atch 22 | 4,128
13 Dec 2021 #9
The problem is not drawing attention to himself,

Gosh, yes that's true. Actually the Polish language requirement that Polish universities have for foreigners might be waived in the case of students from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia? Because as you say they can become functional in Polish very quickly.
ImmortalizedRyan - | 7
13 Dec 2021 #10
@Atch
@mafketis
Thanks a lot! I will definitely consider what you said.

Atch - Do you really want a Russian employer? :))

Well, I think it depends on each individual employer and company, regardless of it's nationality. I found that Mundfish's philosophy is very close to mine (at least from what is written on their website). They're also, maybe, the only Russian company developing a type of project I like. And at the moment I feel like if I like the project I'm working on, I'll be okay with crunches and maybe poor management. Or maybe not :) I don't know, I didn't have that experience yet ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Atch - do you know this other Polish company, People Can Fly?

I know them for Bulletstorm, pretty fun and interesting game. There are also many other companies in Poland like 11 bit studios, Bloober Team, CI Games, Techland, etc.

mafketis - If he knows Belarusian, Polish will be even easier.

I saw that universities offer Polish language courses. Is it an option for me or should I learn Polish myself in my situation?
jon357 74 | 22,042
13 Dec 2021 #11
subjects, that were actual 20 years ago,

Do you mean actual or current?
Bobko 25 | 2,076
13 Dec 2021 #12
@jon357

False friend of a translator it seems. In Russian актуально means "relevant". In English, of course, it is rarely used to indicate whether something is current in this type of context.
Paulina 16 | 4,373
13 Dec 2021 #13
@ImmortalizedRyan, Atch already provided excellent info and advice (it looks like she has insider knowledge :)).

It's true that game industry has a tendency (I'm not saying that everybody is like that though) to exploit the people who make the actual content for their games. It's because they know that this is those people's passion and they're ready to work for peanuts just to be able to do what they love. Competition is also high, which makes those people fairly easily replacable. But I know that if this is what you want to do in life then there's no stopping you, so... good luck :)

Btw, a friend of mine from Warsaw studied Japanese Studies at the Polish Japanese Academy, but she has rich parents, so yeah, it's expensive, unfortunately...

I've found an article about Polish universities where you can study making games, it's a bit old (2015), but maybe you'll find it useful:

gram.pl/news/2015/02/11/chcesz-robic-gry-sprawdz-gdzie-sie-tego-nauczysz.shtml

And, of course, Atch is right about making your own small games (or taking part in some group indie projects, because being able to work in a team is also important, I think). In the end your future employers will be interested in what you can do and not what diploma you have or don't have. But you probably already know that :)
jon357 74 | 22,042
13 Dec 2021 #14
False friend of a translator it seems.

That's what I thought. People say it here too.

The OP seems very motivated about this. One possibility is to contact some of the companies here that are involved in video games. There's one in Piaseczno that apparently employs testers. If it can be done remotely, that would be a good start for him.

I did wonder if the OP has also posted here as Jake Ryan; he seems very interested in asking questions about careers and is obviously keen to leave the country he is in.
ImmortalizedRyan - | 7
13 Dec 2021 #15
Bobko - False friend of a translator it seems

Oh, my bad, I'm sorry... My English level is B1 so sometimes I make such stupid mistakes
mafketis 37 | 10,904
13 Dec 2021 #16
should I learn Polish myself

I would avoid drawing public attention to yourself until you're out. Polish won't be very hard even if you arrive knowing none...
ImmortalizedRyan - | 7
13 Dec 2021 #17
Paulina - It's true that game industry has a tendency to exploit the people

Well, seems that's what most game developers should face. As far as I want to become one, I'm ready to face it too. This is the path I've chosen

Paulina - I've found an article about Polish universities where you can study making games

I've checked it, Gamedev School looks quite interesting, but I don't know, does it's diploma value the same as university's diploma? If not, maybe it will be a nice thing to try after I graduate from university. I also paid attention to Warszawska Szkoła Filmowa but it seems to be too film-oriented (haha, Captain Obvious) and costs as much as Polsko-Japońska Akademia Technik Komputerowych.
ImmortalizedRyan - | 7
13 Dec 2021 #18
jon357 - If it can be done remotely, that would be a good start for him

As I said, I don't wanna stay in Belarus and the reasons a pretty obvious. So it would be much better if I find not remote job somewhere in Poland. Sooner or later I would still struggle with this question, because even if you are a university graduate, in Belarus you are still immediately drafted to the army, and I don't wanna lose a year of my life. And in my opinion, work in office is a bit easier, because you can easily communicate with others. And you also adapt faster. So I think remote work is not the best choice for starting a career.

jon357 - I did wonder if the OP has also posted here as Jake Ryan

No, I'm definitely not Jake Ryan
ImmortalizedRyan - | 7
13 Dec 2021 #19
mafketis - I would avoid drawing public attention to yourself until you're out

You mean, I can face problems in Belarus? I don't thinks so. I'm not going to draw any attention to myself. Even if I attend some Polish language courses in Belarus, I don't think that anyone besides the teachers of these courses, my friends and relatives would know that I attend this lessons. But I'm pretty sure I can get my Polish level to A2 or even B1 with the only help of the Internet, so I think will learn it by myself


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