I found an archive containing 300+ pages of interviews with VR pioneer and programming legend John Carmack. If you haven’t heard of him, John Carmack is a self-taught programmer that began his career leading the development of popular games like Quake and Doom. Now he is the CTO of Oculus Rift. The interviews, which are long enough to fill a book, are full of gems like this:
It was frustrating because I clearly knew what I wanted to be doing but it wasn’t available to me at the time. It was always: if you want to do computers you need to go to MIT then you go work at a corporation as an engineer and follow ”the path.” But I dropped out of college and started my own company. My brother followed a more conventional path. He got a degree and became a stockbroker and that’s what my mother expected that you’re supposed to do. And he’s doing OK for himself, but there’s nothing like a few Ferraris to rub your parents face in.
John is certainly not someone who holds back his opinions, which makes for some fantastic reading. One more quote that stood out to me was his response to whether or not someone should go to college:
If it’s just a matter of going in to get a degree so you can get a job, then I’m not wild about that. If you’re going there to meet smart people, expand horizons, and learn some things, then I’m all for that. Some people learn so much better like that. Me, I’ve always been the type that reads a manual or something like that. I just prefer to learn that way, but not everyone’s like that. I don’t think college is a bad thing, but I would not hold to some truth that “you must go to college, it’s the only way to succeed” because clearly it’s not.
I do think that at least for young and fast-moving industries like the internet and game design, talent and a resume that shows you’ve done some things means more than a degree. I’ve never asked someone “do you have a degree?” It’s more a matter of “what have you done?” If it’s a choice between sitting in a lecture hall and taking a test or staying at home to write a game mod to prove you have some talent, then I think that can be a reasonable way to go.
Without further ado, here are the full interviews. Enjoy!