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An introduction and a plea for help

Posted by Kevin Van Nerum, 04 September 2014 · 533 views

Me

Hello Internet o/

I have many questions! But since this is my first gamedev post: let's start with a decent introduction.
My name is Kevin, a 20 (at moment of writing) year old student from Belgium. (yay Belgium! \o/) I'm a computer science student with a bachelor degree in the pocket and currently 2 years (hopefully/normally) away from my masters degree. The few moments of spare time currently get filled with drawing, music, gaming, reading, tennis ... not all at once ofcourse.

That being said, the reason for me now being on here is my current interest in the game industry. The end of my studies are creeping closer and closer and my eyes are getting fixed more and more in the direction of this industry. Here, however, come creeping doubts and fears and hence the following plea.

A not-so-desperate-but-still-important plea

Studying Computer Sciences was a kind of leap of faith you see; I never programmed before then, before the beautiful age of 18. Hence my current experience in years totals the incredible sum of ... 3.

Looking for summer internship opportunities and general game development information I started noticing something rather alarming. Everywhere I look experience is demanded. Even summer student internship places often require young blood to show off their incredible autodidact skills.

Hence I take this first article opportunity to shout out to all you masters of code and ... and more code. At school we have lots of projects in pairs or larger groups. On a sidenote: Many even advised me against my current university, which prefers to learn through practice rather than theory (not that we don't have theory - that's still there as well - a lot of it). These projects have ranged over all of computer science, from databases and web development to graphics. Particularly in graphics I have up until now dabbled in openGL, Blender (etc.) and I did a thesis on GPU Ray Tracing (with CUDA to be more precise).

Oh yea, the actual plea .. here it comes: Is it possible for a late starter like me to find an opportunity in the game industry (don't mind me living in Belgium - I'd go anywhere happily)? Furthermore, how did any of you guys start with game development? What is your experience, if any, with newly finished students in game development? And finally: do any of you have suggestions what I could dabble in, to get the practicle experience so often demanded from old and young alike?

Yours truly for ever and always,
Kevin
www.kevinvannerum.com


PS: Personally, I was thinking of making some small things in Unity and following their basic 2d and 3d tutorials. Since I can hone my hardcore C, C++, Java, HTML etc. coding skills at school, Unity seemed like a pleasant change of scenery.




It is definitely possible for you to find opportunity in the game industry as long as you have the drive to do so.  I started in the game industry at 23 as a programming intern, so at 20 you still have plenty of time to learn.  Prior to that I had some internship experience outside of the game industry which I did while completing school.

 

My advice would be pick up some game development books, read as much as you can, and work on side projects at home.  Try to develop (and finish) some small games; or choose some discipline in games that you are interested in (like graphics, physics, AI, etc), learn the algorithms involved and develop some samples to showcase it.  You can then use these to show potential employers what you can do.

 

Finally, don't be afraid to apply to a lot of places, or to take an internship outside the game industry to gain practical real world experience.  I had to apply and interview at a lot of different places before being offered something. Once you get that break, it becomes much easier to find new opportunities because when you make friends with your co-workers, as they move on to other companies, you will soon know people all over who can help you get a new job.

Hey, thanks for the great advice! I'm certainly not shy to look for jobs outside of the game industry, experience is indeed gained elsewhere as well. It's great, however, to hear that everything is still possible. :)

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