Game design

So You Want To Be A Game Designer / Programmer / Artist etc?

I'm frequently asked for the 'inside track' on how to break into the games industry.  Sometimes it's a parent whose teenage offspring wants to be a game designer and they want to know what to study; sometimes its a random person I meet at a party who loves (--insert name of mass market game here--) and thinks they could do better.  The following is a version of how I respond -- I hope you find it useful if you are pondering this also