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Physics undergrad, a career in gaming or am I just wasting time? (UK)


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#1 adwodon   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 10:15 AM

Hello everyone,

An introduction is required I suppose, I'm James, I'm 25, I currently live in London and I'm doing my 4th year of an MSci Physics at UCL.
My future career has always been something I've thought about but I've found it difficult to pin down, I initially wanted to be a musician and was for a few years, why I'm so late at university, however several things put me on the path to doing a physics degree with the idea of working in some kind of applied field. Then I started to learn programming and fell in love with it, odd I know, the challenge was interesting but not frustrating, unlike a fair amount of physics, and after focusing as much of my degree towards it as I could I decided I would like to do something with this as a career, being an avid gamer myself the idea of the games industry pop'd up and whilst I dismissed it at first as an unlikely dream I've been thinking about it more and more so now, today, I am here to ask some questions for the collective wisdom of the GameDev.net community.

I have experience in programming languages like Java and C++ but I will not say I'm experienced, I'm an undergrad for one, I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember, I used to make maps for CS and Unreal Tournament years ago but nothing noteworthy so aside from that I have almost no direct experience related to gaming.
Most of my programming experience is related to data analysis and simulations, my MSci project is titled 'Modelling the highest energy collisions in the world' and involves me taking papers (currently: http://uk.arxiv.org/abs/1003.2923) and implementing them in the Rivet software package (C++, http://projects.hepforge.org/rivet/) and then using a Monte Carlo event generator (SHERPA: http://projects.hepf...herpa/trac/wiki) to verify that the generator agrees with real world data.
I also did a 3rd year CS course this year in computer graphics (http://www-typo3.cs....puter_graphics/)

I hear a lot that the UK is a great country for innovation in gaming, we have a lot of smart and creative people, but a recurring theme I hear a lot is a lack of 'skilled' developers in the UK industry. I have briefly looked at jobs available in the UK but it seems almost all require 3+ years of direct industry experience and I've found this very disheartening. I can understand why companies want people with experience, however looking at a lot of my graduate friends, they have jobs with amazing companies who are teaching them the industry and bringing out their full potential. It also appears to me if there's a lack of talent in the industry, why isn't more being done to encourage graduates? I think this is more of a general UK trend of ignoring computer science in school and industry though, there probably isn't the incentives required from the government for companies to take risks on graduates.

I would love to work for the games industry, and I want to do what I can to get a place in a good company but I'm starting to feel like my lack of participation in extra curricular projects has killed any chance. I am looking for a team for the Dare to be Digital (http://www.daretobedigital.com/) over the summer which I hope will give me a taste of actually working on a fully functioning game, albeit in only 9 weeks, but that still seems like nothing compared to the experience required.

I also hear a lot about developers getting stuck just making rather uninteresting flash games for their career, I want to work in the really technical side, physics engines, graphics engines or whatever I find the most interesting. To give an example, I grew up in Nottingham, my dads house is about a 10-15 minute walk from Cryteks UK studios, I spoke to a friend about possibly applying there as I could live at home for a bit to save money and they seemed keen on hiring programmers with 'any' level of experience and they have an absolutely amazing graphics engine, which I don't think they work on in Nottingham... but he said not to bother as they only hire people who have done projects with their engine.

There are plenty of good programming / analyst (yawn) jobs out there for people like me, even teaching is a guaranteed job with good pay and job satisfaction and in the current climate getting something that pays the bills is my no.1 priority, think we would all rather do something that accomplishes that whilst also being something we're really passionate about though, and this industry is that to me, as I'm sure it is to everyone else here.

Ultimately I want to know, am I just one in many thousands who are after these jobs, but not at the top of the pile? Am I listening too much to nay saying? Does anyone have any solid advice, preferably specific to the UK industry?

I can only imagine there are a tonne of threads similar to this here, but none of them really had any answers I hadn't seen before, most people seem keen on the more design and less technical elements of development or have no higher education qualification, I suppose I should ask whether or not that even matters (physics degree)? Apologies for it being a long read, but I am hoping with more detail, you can get an idea of my thought processes and concerns and I will get less general responses, which is what I'm, perhaps naively, hoping for.

TL;DR
Physics graduate with a small amount of programming experience wondering whether the UK gaming industry would have any interest, and some ramblings about graduate jobs.

Sponsor:

#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9432

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 05:59 PM

Adwo, I moved your post to Breaking In because that's the forum where this sort of discussion goes on all the time (and there are FAQs there about the questions you asked).

1. Then I started to learn programming and fell in love with it, odd I know
2. I am here to ask some questions for the collective wisdom of the GameDev.net community.
3. I hear a lot that the UK is a great country for innovation in gaming, we have a lot of smart and creative people,
4. but a recurring theme I hear a lot is a lack of 'skilled' developers in the UK industry.
5. I have briefly looked at jobs available in the UK but it seems almost all require 3+ years of direct industry experience
6. if there's a lack of talent in the industry, why isn't more being done to encourage graduates?
7. I'm starting to feel like my lack of participation in extra curricular projects has killed any chance.
8. I also hear a lot about developers getting stuck just making rather uninteresting flash games for their career, I want to work in the really technical side, physics engines, graphics engines or whatever I find the most interesting.
9. my dads house is about a 10-15 minute walk from Cryteks UK studios... they only hire people who have done projects with their engine.
10. am I just one in many thousands who are after these jobs, but not at the top of the pile?
11. Am I listening too much to nay saying?
12. Does anyone have any solid advice,
13. preferably specific to the UK industry?
14. I can only imagine there are a tonne of threads similar to this here, but none of them really had any answers I hadn't seen before,
15. most people seem keen on the more design and less technical elements of development
16. or have no higher education qualification,
17. I suppose I should ask whether or not that even matters (physics degree)?


1. That's excellent. And it's not in the least bit odd.
2. Most of your questions have already been answered already for the collective wisdom. Let's talk about you instead.
3. Yes.
4. I never heard that. Who's been telling you such awful things?
5. Stop! You were looking at job ads for experienced people. You're targeting too high. You need entry-level openings. Sometimes those are advertised, and sometimes they're not. Ignore the job ads that are out of your reach.
6. False conclusion based on erroneous assumptions.
7. Stop horriblizing everything! Your degree is awesome. Now you just need to build a portfolio.
8. So tailor your portfolio in that direction.
9. The first interview you get will just be practice (you'll screw it up, and you'll wish you hadn't put all your eggs in your very best basket). Have some practice interviews before interviewing with your dream company.
10. Yes. You are.
11. Yes. You are.
12. Yes. We do. I suggest you first spend some time reading this forum's FAQs. Go back out to the Breaking In forum and look at Getting Started (upper right).
13. You don't need any different information from what North Americans need.
14. You weren't looking in the right place, is all.
15. "Most people" don't even know the difference between game development and game design. You aren't "most people."
16. Again. So what, who cares what those dummies do or know?
17. Of course it matters. It's a plus. Read those FAQs, then ask more stuff.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#3 adwodon   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 07:44 PM

Ah I knew I'd made a forum rookie error in that section, thanks for moving, and thanks again for taking the time to dissect my mid-crisis ramblings.

I've started looking at the FAQ's and will take your advice, working on a portfolio whilst looking into more entry level jobs, I'm still young so I can chase those dream jobs once I've got a solid footing.

I especially like the '10 Stupid Things Wannabes Do To Mess Up Their Career Aspirations' on your website, very enlightening.

#4 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 851

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 07:37 AM

I hear a lot that the UK is a great country for innovation in gaming, we have a lot of smart and creative people, but a recurring theme I hear a lot is a lack of 'skilled' developers in the UK industry. I have briefly looked at jobs available in the UK but it seems almost all require 3+ years of direct industry experience and I've found this very disheartening. I can understand why companies want people with experience, however looking at a lot of my graduate friends, they have jobs with amazing companies who are teaching them the industry and bringing out their full potential. It also appears to me if there's a lack of talent in the industry, why isn't more being done to encourage graduates?

There probably exist similar graduate positions offered by some games companies? At least I found some to apply to when I was in that position, and got a job offer (in the UK).

Although yes, it is nonsense that there is a lack of skills in the UK - the other problem is that most the games industry aren't willing to pay for those skills, and so many graduates (such as myself, or your graduate friends) are taking jobs elsewhere.

What methods are you using to find these jobs? When I was at university, we had "careers fairs" and I also used a games-specific recruitment agency to find graduate-level jobs.
http://erebusrpg.sourceforge.net/ - Erebus, Open Source RPG for Windows/Linux/Android
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mark.harman/conquests.html - Conquests, Open Source Civ-like Game for Windows/Linux




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