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adwodon

Member Since 12 Feb 2012
Offline Last Active Feb 12 2012 07:43 PM

Topics I've Started

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

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.

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