The wonderful Emily Diehl has written a veritable wall of text on her job at ArenaNet and what it took to get there (and what she believes is important for future game programmers/developers).
The high point for all you dreamers:
And the low point:
I don't think I can really stress just how ridiculously into games I am and have been my entire life. From growing up and falling in love with my Atari, to playing pretty much everything that I could get my hands on since then, to devoting tons of free time to crazy game-related side projects, it's (embarrassingly) obvious how much I live and breathe games. In my interviews, I was completely grilled about all kinds of game related things. Luckily, I can talk animatedly for hours on any game subject you lob at me, so I guess I did OK :)
School gives you some additional tools and (usually) some kick in the pants to apply yourself. If you don't have the passion to drive yourself and make yourself actually do stuff on your free time and work towards your end goal of landing a job in games, you're probably not going to get very far. I know so many people that thought the magic key to success was "getting that degree". Some of those same people are now in totally unrelated fields with huge school bills because they slacked off and managed to squeek through school to get the paper and then realized that they didn't actually have the chops and skills/examples of skills to land that dream job. It's a huge (expensive) bummer for them to get out and have that realization hit after the fact.
There is plenty more at the wiki. [source]