Well it depends on what you are wanting to do programming wise.
|Game Design is interesting and challenging with extraordinarily rewarding payoff but has bad hours with less than optimal job security, it also is apparently an incredibly over saturated market that may be hard to get into.|
I would not call bad hours, poor job security, and over-saturated job market extraordinarily rewarding payoffs.
|For lack of a better name "Standard Programming" has more reliable job security and has a growing need for jobs but can be dull work and has less rewarding outcomes.|
Standard programming I assume would be web programming, job specific application programming, library development for end users, etc. None of the jobs have 'less rewarding payoffs' as end the end you are developing something that will be used either in house or by end users (that is the payoff). The other pay off is the programmer proving to himself that he could do it, a boost in confidence and an excitement for the next thing he makes.
|If I could hear your opinions based on experience, which career path would be better?|
Doesn't matter. I have worked 9 to 5 jobs (Print Pack Packing, Walmart, Kroger grocery store, construction gopher, and several others) while pursuing a college degree and was ready to work 9 to 5 while building my portfolio and network. The job only matters once you are in the industry, but before that you have to make ends meet by doing whatever job pays the bills. The career path that pays your bills, puts food on the table, and lets you support yourself is the best one, even if it ends up not being in programming. I have 20 years programming experience and have not once had a programming job and I still love programming and make ends meet. This way I can program what I want when I want, take indie jobs when they interest me, and work on making an indie game company without someone standing over me telling me what to do in my daily grind.