(re: Getting into the biz…) Check out this response I gave someone else:
and, this one:
My sense is that it’s not easy to break into the business as a designer.
If I were you, I’d try the following (and, I have no idea if any of this would work):
Write articles for game magazines – reviews, strategy tips etc. Try to get yourself known to the game companies
Work for a game company. The smaller the better (in small companies it’s easier to get noticed). Do whatever it takes to get in the door. Quality Assurance is usually an easy group to get hired in.
Try building some levels for a game. Some games ship with everything you need to design some levels. Build a level or two.
Learn one of the “easy” programming languages – in particular Flash (Shockwave) … build a game in it. It isn’t that hard, and there is a bit of a market for good flash games
Peruse the forums for a programmer and an artist that want to break into the business. Form a team. Build a game. If its good the whole team will be “launched”
The bottom line is that you need to “do things” – don’t just stand there.
One other idea: there is a computer game school (it’s actually a 4-year college). Check out Digipen – they are great, and most of their alumni do seem to break into the industry.