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stylin

Questions about my future

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Hello community! I've been a gamedev reader for the past couple years, and I love the site. I've also been programming as a hardcore hobby for some 10 years now, the majority of that concentrating on game development. Recently, I've decided to take the plunge and enroll myself in a close-to-home design & technology school that offers degrees in game design. For the next 2 1/2 years, I'll be immersed in all things games, including courses in research and planning, audio, project management, 3D modeling, 3D animation, motion editing, developing and scripting, and story telling. I'm very excited because this is what I love to do, but I'm wondering a few things about the industry. Generally, I'd like to get a feel of what companies are going to be looking for a couple years down the road when I complete my degree. I understand that focuses and demand change annually, often quarterly or monthly; but maybe I can get some idea of the general market scope, from people that are currently in the industry. A few questions I have are: 1. As a game designer, what kinds of entry-level positions will I expect to find in the next couple years? What is the competition like in the various fields (programming, art/animation, game design, Q&A, etc.)? 2. What will companies be looking for? I've read trends of downsizing, with more expectation out of the individual. Does this apply to all fields, and will these trends continue as the industry expands? 3. I'm fully expecting to relocate after completing my degree. So far as I've read, the hotbeds have been California, Washington and Texas. Is this accurate, and are there signs that this is the geographical map I'll be seeing down the road? 4. I've also read that many companies look for institutional degrees in addition to technical degrees. How, if at all, will this affect my chances at landing a job? Any and all info is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your time.

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Well,
I am only 15 but I to want Game Deevelopment to be my carear so I have been reading up on it. this might not help you so if it dosen't then just skip over the post.

I have read somewhere that right now it is getting harder to land a job in Game Development at a company. It would be almost easier to start your own company and expand from their. Now, you will have that first big hill to get over but once you do you can have your company going. Still going to be hard though.

Now,
I know that really probaly didn't helo as I am only 15 but I just wanted to get that out in the air just in-case you wanted to know that.

Well,
Anyway, good luck in your classes and the rest of your carear.

Chad

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Caveat: I'm more than a bit out of touch about the dynamics of what goes on in the business side of the game industry, since I've no longer got an interest in entering the commercial games industry through the usual channels (been there, tried that, got the mental scars [grin]). I also know very little about the specialised game career courses (I've got a standard university degree). And I also know very little about the American perspective, so you might want to ignore my advice entirely! [grin] But I can speak from what it was like a few years ago for me.

Quote:
Original post by stylin
1. As a game designer, what kinds of entry-level positions will I expect to find in the next couple years? What is the competition like in the various fields (programming, art/animation, game design, Q&A, etc.)?


If the industry is still what it was like a few years back, and I think it still is, it will be easier to get into the industry as a programmer or an artist. Q&A is usually considered to be just testing, you can probably find a job here, but a pure testing job was (quite wrongly by the way) considered the bottom of the barrel (testers get put through hell and little respect; frankly a good tester is worth their weight in gold in my opinion, but the game companies didn't seem to think so). The game design position is the hardest to get into because everyone wants to be a designer; I'd work my way up to this through a company. Most companies allow everyone to contribute a little bit to the design anyway.

I'd become either a programmer or an artist if I were you (or both). I suspect you will become much more attractive as a hire if you also specialise in something useful that a lot of other people don't know, such as designing and programming sound systems (not sure what the artist equivalent would be). You'll get a better idea of what that would be from what your classmates decide to do; just distinguish yourself from them in what you learn in a slight way so you'll stand out from the crowd. Maybe don't pick software testing like I did though, testers get no respect [smile].

Quote:

2. What will companies be looking for? I've read trends of downsizing, with more expectation out of the individual. Does this apply to all fields, and will these trends continue as the industry expands?


They'll expect you to put in a lot of hard work, and stick it through to the end. It's pretty much an endurance test. Most people who leave early from game company jobs probably do so from burnout (myself included). However, the limited amount I know about the game colleges is that they'll prepare you for this by working you very hard through the course, so if you graduate you'll be ready. I could be wrong though...

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3. I'm fully expecting to relocate after completing my degree. So far as I've read, the hotbeds have been California, Washington and Texas. Is this accurate, and are there signs that this is the geographical map I'll be seeing down the road?


Haven't a clue about this one. I frankly am not sure why game companies would want to be located in a high rent area such as California, when the company could be allocated anywhere on the planet. That's one of the advantages other countries have over the U.S. on this, we can have lower pay rates as our rents are lower.

Quote:

4. I've also read that many companies look for institutional degrees in addition to technical degrees. How, if at all, will this affect my chances at landing a job?


I don't know what the effect will be on landing a game development job. However it will probably effect your chances on getting a standard business job if you decide to leave the game industry. I was lucky in that my marks were high enough in my university degree to get into a postgraduate degree and work my way to becoming a researcher or a lecturer. It's always useful to have a contingency plan in case something goes sour.

Hope that's of some help!

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I'm getting a University Degree (CS with minor in Math), my school offers several advanced 'Games' Courses so I'l probably focus no those. As Well I'll be getting a Technical Writing Certificate.

I don't think there would be too much of a difference in worth over a Technical school degree compared to a University Degree. SO you'll probably be alright as long as you get a solid basis in Math (even if your are going for artist).

The other part is probably having actual games to show as a portfolio.

I think this would be the best thing to help out getting a job along with a degree.

I've have about 50% of a small Game demo put together, and within the next two years I hope to have two SMALL game demos created and polished, and have at least worked on one COLABORATIVE project (possible just doing tools creation), and possibly make a few mods (I have a couple NWN mods, but they never got very popular :(.

I think, and as far as I can tell most people in the industry agree, you need some sort of actual game work to show, even if it is just your own little demos.





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Quote:
Original post by HAM
I think, and as far as I can tell most people in the industry agree, you need some sort of actual game work to show, even if it is just your own little demos.


You can get into a game position without a portfolio of game work; I didn't have to show any work to get two offers at local companies, and I don't think my friends who also got game jobs needed any either (but we did have pretty good marks from our university degrees). But I in general I agree with HAM here; having some good work to show will be a big boost to your chances of getting a job, particularly at a good company. However if your technical college is good you'll probably be building one as part of your course-work.

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Thanks for the feedback everyone! Some of my own:

Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid: Q&A is usually considered to be just testing, you can probably find a job here, but a pure testing job was (quite wrongly by the way) considered the bottom of the barrel (testers get put through hell and little respect; frankly a good tester is worth their weight in gold in my opinion, but the game companies didn't seem to think so)

In Game Developer 2004 Annual Salary Survey, they hit on the fact that Q&A is an increasingly vital role in today's games. And while only 14% of the professionals surveyed have been in the industry for more than 6 years, it claims a growing demand on this particular field, especially in console gaming. I definitely will look into this area in the next few years, even though my focus will probably be in programming. As for art/animation, these areas seem to have the need for raw talent and skill, of which I don't have - but I will be taking multiple courses covering this.

Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid: ... the limited amount I know about the game colleges is that they'll prepare you for this by working you very hard through the course, so if you graduate you'll be ready.

... having some good work to show will be a big boost to your chances of getting a job, particularly at a good company. However if your technical college is good you'll probably be building one as part of your course-work.

I will indeed be creating 2 games from the ground up before my 2 1/2 years is finished. I also have some demos I've made over the years, and have begun trying to organize a portfolio. I'm sure I'll get some much needed help with that at school as well.

So I'm leaning towards programming since that's what I love to do, and what I have the most experience in. Things could change though as I learn more about what I can personally accomplish, so I'm always keeping an open eye on the horizon. Thanks again for all your replies.

@Chad Smith: Congrats on deciding that game developing is for you! Work hard, pour yourself into it, and good luck!


:stylin:

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