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OT: Need advise. Am I too old to switch to game programming?

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Hi. Sorry for this OT. I just need advise. I have been a system programmer for 10 years. And I plan to switch over to game programming. I wonder what's the average age of game programmer? I am 32 years old. Am I too old to be a game programmer? What is your age or the oldest age of the game programming guru you know? Thank you.

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Are you to old to play games?
Are you to old to type and read a monitor?
Are you to old to learn new stuff?

If you can answer no to all of those I dont see why you wouldnt make a coherant games programmer.

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Not that I have ego or anything, but, if all other programmers are just 21 or 25, and the guru are just 28, then I would feel quite out of place. even if I can learn on the job, this might not be an ideal career switch for me. Is this not a rightly concern?

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To be totally honest I dont see what age really has to do with anything. Your not like 80 or something. If you feel you can learn to make games and thats what you want to do then atleast try.

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Quote:
Original post by MarcZen
Is this not a rightly concern?


Who cares if the guru is younger than you? Plenty of people have switched to the game industry after having worked in other fields. Go to a local bookstore, find some game programming books, and flip to the author bios (Game Programming Gems particularly). Google around to some game company web sites and read the bio pages there. You'll find people who came to the game industry after having worked as defense contractors, engineers, AI researchers, database designers, network programmers, mathematicians... at varying ages. Head over to the GarageGames site and look at some of the community members actively developing games there. Several are in their mid-30s and older, some having never worked on games before.

All it takes to get going is a strong desire, a sharp mind, and dedication.

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Well, it is hard getting a job in the game industry if you mean to just switch employeers regardless of age, specially if you're not from a game producing country, which usually means you would have to find a job abroad.

Now, if you mean as a hobby, there is no age limit.

My advice, keep your current job, do some game programming on your own on the side, and whenever you feel like your side project could get you a job in the industry, then start sending off resumes.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by MarcZen
Am I too old to be a game programmer?

The average game programmer is probably in their 20's. An IGDA survey showed that programmer's only last about 5 years. They get burnt out, it has nothing to do with age.

Here are some tidbits from IGDA's Quality of Life White Paper:
Quote:

34.3% of developers expect to leave the industry within 5 years, and 51.2% within 10 years.
Only 3.4% said that their coworkers averaged 10 or more years of experience.
Crunch time is omnipresent, during which respondents work 65 to 80 hours a week (35.2%). The average crunch work week exceeds 80 hours (13%). Overtime is often uncompensated (46.8%).
44% of developers claim they could use more people or special skills on their projects.
Spouses are likely to respond that "You work too much..." (61.5%); "You are always stressed out." (43.5%); "You don't make enough money." (35.6%).
Contrary to expectations, more people said that games were only one of many career options for them (34%) than said games were their only choice (32%).

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I'm 31 and still program games (as hobby that is). I had some years in games programming, and frankly, i never stopped to do games at home too. Right now i'm an application programmer but that doesn't stop me from still making games.

If you feel you can do games then do.

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At my company: 3 coders in their twenties, 2 in their 30's

I'm one of the 20's ones but I really couldn't care less that some of the other guys are 30+. So far its never been an issue, infact its hardly every mentioned (except when one of them tries to play bad 80's music on his sterio hehe). If you want to work in games then don't give up because you might be a bit embarassed - if your boss is 24 and your mentor is 22 will it really matter? If you want an excuse not to go for it then fine, but if you really do want in then get off your butt and make it happen! Be worried about making less money, not have the required skills, not even getting an interview or having to start at the bottom, but don't worry about age.

That said games jobs don't exactly grown on trees so you might not get in anyway - then its a non-issue. But if your 78 and realise you didn't apply for a games job because you might have to take orders from some kid how much are you gonna kick yourself?

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I work at a large, well-known game developer. The team I'm on is quite small, with only 10 programmers. I'm 31, and we have 2 leads, age 31 and 37. The other ages on the team are in the 24-35 range. I'd say the average age for a programmer at our studio is in the low 30s. There are a fair number that I'd guess to be around 40. They tend to be the guys with lots of experience working on the coolest tech. I would expect the average age to slowly keep getting higher as the most challenging tech development will be done by people with many years experience. We're seeing this with next-gen development, where the people working on the core tech are the people that have seen through some of these transitions already.

So if you've got 10 years of good coding experience behind you I don't think you'd find yourself old in most game companies, since you'd probably be placed in a position that reflects your experience.

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Peter Molyneux got in to the game industry pretty late, and is now one of the most respected people in game development... he's certainly my hero anyway and I hope one day to make the leap from what I do now to doing game development.

I hope one day I will get to make that leap in to the industry, I'm doing alright where I am but because it's a SME I fear for my career. Meh.

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Most of the legends in game industry are rather 'old'
Sid Meier, Peter Molyneux, John Carmack... but I don´t know, how much of a programmer they really are, except for Carmack ;) My impression always was, that Molyneux and Meier were more of the genius guys telling the programmers what they want, which would make them something like game designers?
But, as I am not in any industry yet, I can´t give any real clue how old most game programmers are.
I am 23 and started last year as a hobby.

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You're not too old to make what you want to to and what you LIKE to do. Life is made of changes and when you close a door another bigger will open. If you like playing videogames as when you was younger than you will enjoy making them.

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Hi,

I'm 36 now and about 3 years ago I made a push to move into the games industry (with 15 years systems programming). I got together a good demo and received interest from 2 companies - Headfirst and Rage. The problem for me was that I would have had to drop £10k on my salary. This in itself may not have stopped me but the other side of being older is that I have kids and could not justify denying them lots of things to do this. I was also limited to relatively local companies (to Bristol, UK) as I could not move the kids from their school.

So, the issues for me were my circumstances and I never got any feeling that age was an issue. If you do not have the same ties as I have then you should go for it, however make sure you have got a good demo to show or you won't get any interest whatsoever.

Since I applied, four of the studios have since gone bust and closed down and so that's a factor to consider also. You will need to be flexible with regard to location

Andy

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I'm in my forties and I'm working as a games programmer. If you really want to do it, go for it. There are downsides. I took a big pay cut (both in total compensation and per hour worked).

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Hi.
Thanks for all the replies.
I think I will forget about getting into this industry.
Firstly, I cannot afford to get paycut. I got family to feed too.
Secondly, learning the rope all over again (even though I have programming experience) would cost me opportunities and with studios going bust, I think the risk might just be too high.
Guess I will just be a gamer. :)

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that was gonna be my suggestion.

breaking in to the game industry is something you have to afford, and by that I mean: time and life style

I don't mind eating nuddles twice a week if I get to make games. But I would never ever make my family do the same. :) And say you get good pay, you still have to push alot more hours than you're used too, and more importanly: what your family is used to.

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I wouldn't worry about your age (there are plenty of programmers your age already), but as others have said, professional game programming isn't as well paid as many other kinds of programming (and often it's more work).

As for the learning bit, I don't see that being a problem thoug. Someone with 10 years of programming experience should be able to learn everything required pretty quickly.

But of course, the paycut and possibly longer working hours might be a problem. ;)

You could always just do it as a hobby though.

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