Yes, this might sound like an advertisement or something, but I wrote every word of it and I believe every word. I was not asked to write this, I was not paid for it, I didn't even get any free samples or stickers or anything! This entire article originates from being on their email list and just being genuinely excited about it!!!
One of the biggest problems with getting into game development, aside from the time required, is the high cost. If you've ever looked around any book store (or amazon.com, etc) for game programming books of any sort, you know all too well that $50-$60 is just an acceptable price for 300-400 pages of knowledge. That assumes, you know, that you did your research right, picked out a book that will actually work for you, doesn't assume you already know things that you don't, doesn't teach you the same things all over again... I seriously have at least $200 worth of books that are useless because I just couldn't get behind the way the author was putting the knowledge out there or had already learned those exact same things in another book (usually there's one or two chapters of goodness, but seriously, $60 is waaaaaay too much to gamble!).
Oh, and if you want to go to school for game development, unless you live near one of the few schools that teach it, you'll be going online, and that's ridiculously expensive too. I really love the looks of some of the schools (Digipen was the first I'd heard of and I drooled over the website for months), but there was no way I was affording it, and I don't believe in getting huge student loans that will take years (or decades) of my life to pay off.
The other day, I received an email from The Game Institute (I'm on their email subscription list) saying they were having a big sale. The Game Institute hosts a humongous array of game development training materials for wanna-be game developers of all sorts - it covers C++ programming, art/animation, math (yeah yeah, no one likes math except me, but you'll be using a LOT of math as a game programmer), AI (always one of my favorites, it's such an awesome field to learn) and even building your own game console (although if you want to actually build it, it's another $230 for the kit...). What's amazing is that all of this comes as one huge package, including online textbooks (you can purchase physical, but the price is unknown) and around 150 hours of presentations for only $99, but through January 1st it's only $49! That's less than gambling on one single book most of the time! Plus, apparently you also get any new stuff put out for a year. There's also the option of actually getting a professor to guide you and getting college credit for it, but I couldn't find a price for that anywhere without buying the package (and it's not payday yet...). You can actually find the huge, detailed list of everything here as well.
I wish I would have known about this sooner so I could have shared it as a Christmas gift idea for everyone, but it still makes an excellent gift idea for any game developers (or someone who would like to learn to become one!) in your life (or yourself!).