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Game Development and Families

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Hi, I''m interested in getting into the field of game development (mainly the programming aspect) and I''ve read that some jobs require nearly 18 hour work days. What I''d like to know from some of you who maybe actually have experience in the field is, how do you manage to have a social life? I don''t plan to be a bachelor my whole life, but will this come into conflict with my aspirations for game development?

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quote:
Original post by Jbs
how do you manage to have a social life?

Via email and instant messaging

Seriously, the industry (like most other creative/entertainment industries) does not function on a 9.00-5.00 basis. Part of this is because games need to get finished ASAP, part because it is hard to schedule them (and the resultant slippage needs to be made up through unpaid overtime) and partly because some people choose to work long hours.

There are times (close to deadlines) when long hours are necessary but at others they are not and staff need to ensure they work sensible hours. The "hero" culture of working long hours as the nrom actually makes people less efficient and slows development. If the company you end up at doesn''t realise that they try to educate them (by actually looking up facts n figures). If they still wont listen then move elsewhere. There are companies that opperate sensible working practices.



Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions
Game Development & Design consultant

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> I''ve read that some jobs require nearly 18 hour work days

There is an not-so-old adage that states "it takes a gamer to make games"; that''s why companies filter candidates for that inner drive to perform and a deep interest in all games. That is, in essence, not conflictual with spending a large amount of time in front of a TV or computer screen.

The average game developer is 27 years old; that''s in line with the average gamer. The smaller firms with low budget projects will tend to take on low-paid freshly educated developpers at 22 years average, while the big guns are willing to pay for experience and know-how and 30 year old buffs is not uncommon. Younger people are easier to influence and peer pressure is at maximum. Older buffs have engrained habits, are harder to influence and family matters get in the balance.

So the work life evolves with time, fortunately for you. Go to a studio where the average age is low to get that sense of driving at 390 MPH while typing code; the hours will zip by with that ''whooooshhh'' sound. Fast will also be your progress in the corporate ladder. Otherwise, a large studio with an older pool of developpers will feel more like a big corporate IT department; career progress could also be slow. Choice is yours.

-cb

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There is no social life. It''s Friday nite, my friends are all out partying, while I''m here coding.

Prepare to marry your computer.

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My girlfriend is a programmer also.

I''ve ran my own business for six years with my friend, and we occasionally hire her to help us with some time-critical missions (otherwise she''s a freelancer).
Normally, we work about 8-10 h a day.

Note, we''re not a game studio per se, but an interactive graphics specialist house. We only gamedev for fun...

Could not be a sweeter deal

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Our project manager often takes us out for drinks; I''ve been in here till 11:00pm the past couple of nights, but that''s mainly because I have to wait for him to give me a lift home (having stayed just past the last bus), and partly because the project has to be finished by, er, today. We''re not often asked to come in on weekends; when we do, it''s just a Saturday afternoon for a few hours type job. I''ll be in tomorrow - voluntarily - to help polish the final demo.

Working for one of the larger, more established studios like EA will be more of a ''normal'' working life. Despite what you may think, having your people stay to the wee hours of the morning does *not* increase productivity very much - you just end up with tired people. Management are beginning to catch onto this, and so a 5:30pm leaving time is kinda expected. That''s one of the reasons I don''t get paid overtime, I think - they don''t want to give us an incentive to work late.

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he''s not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.
Enginuity1 | Enginuity2 | Enginuity3 | Enginuity4

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quote:
Original post by Void
There is no social life. It''s Friday nite, my friends are all out partying, while I''m here coding.

Prepare to marry your computer.


Wait... partying != coding? No one ever told me that!! Since when has there been a difference?

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Over the summer I worked for 3 months at a game company. Here''s what they did:

During normal times, 10am-7pm (pretty mild)
During crunch time: 9am-9pm
Night before milestone: 9am-2am

The balance between "normal" time and "crunch" time probably depends on your particular project. If your company has a very tough schedule, or is understaffed etc, it is possible you could be in crunch mode for anywhere from 3-12 months or even longer.

At the company I worked at, I would say during the span of the game''s development, by the time it''s done, there probably will have been about 4 months worth of crunch, and about 12 milestones, each of which usually involved staying up til average of 1 or 2am, sometimes 3, and on one occasion, we were there from 9am-7am

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