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SkyRender

The Road to the Gaming Industry...

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Computer gaming has been my passion since I was a little kid. I enjoy programming as well. I started programming when I was eight and have always loved it (yeah, I’m a nerd… :-) ) Anyway, I have always dreamed of entering the gaming industry as a programmer and making a career of it. However, I’m not quite sure of the best way to go about doing so. Since I know many of you are actually IN the gaming industry, I thought that maybe I could get some advice. Right I’m in school studying Computer Science. I’ll be graduating with my B.S. next June. Then it’s off to grad school! I’ve decided to pursue a Master’s degree, but I’m considering going for a Ph.D. as well. My question is this: How far do people generally have to go in school before they acquire the proper skills and experience needed for game programming? Also, I’m debating what area of emphasis I should specialize in. I would like to choose one that is in demand and would be conducive to getting the proper training needed for the gaming industry. And finally, would colleges which offer specific gaming courses be helpful? I know that getting into the game industry can be competitive, and I’m willing to work hard to get there! Any advice or information you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for everyone’s help!

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One of the ways Id advise you to go about it is to involve yourself with the industry while you're at school.. e.g. if your school offers gaming courses, take them -- theyre often taught by industry pros.

I've been TAing a Game Programming course at USC for the past 3 semesters, and the top two kids from each semester got internships at Electronic Arts LA. That (through school) is probably the best way to get in the door - do internships, personal projects etc. and NETWORK!

Honestly, no gaming company requires anything more than a B.S, by the time you graduate college, you're more than ready (with regards to theory) -- its up to you to show them you can succesfully implement complex projects...

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Yeah. You don't need to go any further than getting a BS. The things that all games companies seem to be looking for in new employees (as far as I have seen) are experience, strong c++ knowledge and good analytical problem solving skills.

You don't have experience, but if you can show an impressive demo then this is often good enough. So make sure you know C++ very well (reading books like Effective C++ is a good idea), and try to demonstrate a good knowledge of computer graphics.

The people I have seen well in this field seem to be the people who can grasp new concepts quickly (with help if necessary), have a healthy thirst for knowledge and can communicate and work well with other people.

So it sounds like you are on the right track. Get reading books and knock up a nice demo and you stand a good chance of breaking through.

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Also ask yourself where in the heirarchy you'd like to end up.
I just wanted to get into the industry a year ago so started writing my own game.
It's given me enough insight to know that I don't want to just be a games coding monkey for someone else, but to try and aim higher :)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Getting that PhD might actually lessen your chances of getting a job in the games market. Unless you specialized in the hot topic of the day you will not have an advantage of the person with a BS. They may think of you as an ivory tower type of guy, not a roll up your sleeves team guy.

Doing games is the best way to get into the industry.

When we interview we look for the passion not the specific skills. Any skill you have today will be old hat and slammed into a library within a couple of years. The passion to learn and create is what we look for. If you aren't creating stuff, your chances are slim no matter what your learning.

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We've had one Ph.D. here in the past, and the person was a disaster. Really smart at one thing, but absolutely sucked at writing code. It really depends on the studio that you're interested in, who the tech leads are, and what their hiring philsophies are. We've got one game team lead who is a high school dropout. And then there's my boss in the tech/tools department who won't even consider a person without a 4-year degree, and a Master's is even better (but a Ph.D. is a detriment, see above).

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Wow, thanks for the advice everyone! I’ll definitely try to set time aside to build games during my free time (although school does tend to eat my free time away like a rabid walrus). I’ll check out game related courses at the schools I’m applying to as well.

I do however feel that pursuing Master’s degree right after I finish my B.S. is the right decision for me, although I’m not sure what I should specialize in. I would like to do something that would be geared towards getting a job in the game industry, but at the same time would be useful in other fields as well (Just so that I’ll have something to fall back on in case game programming doesn’t work out for me.) Any suggestions? It's a little confuisng since it is hard to tell which fields are more in demand. Thanks once again.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Networking? As most games are multiplayer nowadays, this is a huge skill. And networking encompasses physical networking, protocols, etc... You could always be an IT guy or something.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Networking? As most games are multiplayer nowadays, this is a huge skill. And networking encompasses physical networking, protocols, etc... You could always be an IT guy or something.


I believe he meant social networking.

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