Sign in to follow this  
zeldafreak

Just how difficult is it to break into the industry?

Recommended Posts

Hello. I am a fifteen year old programmer, who has been yearning to make games since he could type on a keyboard. Ever since I got my first computer and programming book at 10 years old, I have been trying to learn how to do it. I have programmed in QuickBASIC, Visual BASIC, ANSI C, and then in C#, where I currently am trying to learn how to do it. After I'm able to do interesting stuff in C# with my engine, I plan on relearning ANSI C and C++ so I can work with an industry standard language. It hasn't been until recently that I finally actually started the process. Whether this was because of age, or the book I bought (Managed Direct X for Game Developers) I do not know, but because of this I have questions I need answered as to my future. I would like to see this question answered in the FAQ, as it is very relevant. 1. Just how hard is it to get into the industry? I have heard many conflicting statements, from those saying it is impossibly difficult, and others saying it's easy if you really want to. Is it true that if I try hard and am serious about what I am doing that I will have more-or-less no problem? 2. How much will I make? I'm not in it for the money, but will the money I make actually be able to feed me and a family? My parents (and I) are scared about this, and because of this, I will be majoring in Embedded Systems (very similar to, if not the same as, electronic engineering) because electronics is something else I'm interested in, and I know for sure I can get a job in (there are sixty jobs open in a local business right now!) 3. How qualified am I as opposed to how qualified I have to be? Do I have to be a child prodigy to be able to get into the industry? What skills are necessary and what can I do right now to maximize my acceptability? Is what I am doing right now going to help or hurt me? I'm sure you've gotten questions like this, but I searched and could not find answers to these SPECIFIC questions, and hope you don't get too mad at me for re-asking the questions again. Thanks again, David

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
After I'm able to do interesting stuff in C# with my engine, I plan on relearning ANSI C and C++ so I can work with an industry standard language.

Although C++ may be the most commonly used language, many other languages are also used very frequently... C# being one of them.

Quote:
1. Just how hard is it to get into the industry? I have heard many conflicting statements, from those saying it is impossibly difficult, and others saying it's easy if you really want to. Is it true that if I try hard and am serious about what I am doing that I will have more-or-less no problem?

In this day and age it's not all about how much you put into it, but it's the actual outcome. One could argue that determination is just as important as the final product, and I agree, but the final product is what counts, so you have to be excellent at what you do. I started by working on smaller applications and then working my way up into larger scale indie projects.

Quote:
2. How much will I make? I'm not in it for the money, but will the money I make actually be able to feed me and a family? My parents (and I) are scared about this, and because of this, I will be majoring in Embedded Systems (very similar to, if not the same as, electronic engineering) because electronics is something else I'm interested in, and I know for sure I can get a job in (there are sixty jobs open in a local business right now!)

The game development industry is rivaling the movie industry at the moment. The average pay for a junior programmer in 2003 with less than 2 years of experience was $59,400, a lead programmer with 2-5 years of experience averaged at $76,904 with a technical director of 6+ years experience coming in at an average of $110,941. This article has a lot of information regarding salaries.

Quote:
3. How qualified am I as opposed to how qualified I have to be? Do I have to be a child prodigy to be able to get into the industry? What skills are necessary and what can I do right now to maximize my acceptability? Is what I am doing right now going to help or hurt me?

What you're doing right now is excellent - starting young on your own choosing. Learning in your own time shows a passion for game development and also that you enjoy it (atleast in most cases). Most positions now REQUIRE atleast a bachelor's degree in a relative course. Keep working hard and learn new things.

Best of luck to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Edit: Woot. Too slow.

I applied to an internship at a game company (not sure I use the correct prepositions here) when I was a student, and I did not had any problem at the time to enter this company (Shen Technologies, which was working on the Power Soccer'98 game at the time). Small games companies may experience difficulties to find applicants and thus it may be easier to find a job in a small company (if the company is looking for someone, of course).

It may be posible to enter in a larger company without experience, but you'll have to prove your qualities and you'll probably begin as a tool writer.

Concerning the salary, gamasutra and the igda publish the game developper salary survey (link might a need free registration) every year. You'll be able to see what are the typical game developper salaries.

You don't have to be agenius to apply to a game development job. You'll probably have to be older - I doubt that they will hire you now [smile]. Game programming is not just programming. It is also about knowing math, physics, algorithms, data structures, computre architecture, software design and so on. The best way to learn all these is to study, study and study - until you'll get your diplomas (don't ask me which ones: I'm French, and I don't know how your diplomas work).

HTH,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Caveat: I do not work in the industry. I've interviewed, and I've spent much time amongst the forums here with people who do. What follows is my perceptions, and while likely accurate are still limited by my experience. [edit: and I'm a slow typer]

1. To my knowledge, it's moderately difficult. Or rather, it's not terribly hard as it is competative. Many people want to make games for a living and there's not really that many positions. Though it's not uncommon for people to leave after getting the position once they find it's not really the dream job they expected, or once they're offered more cash out of the industry, or for other reasons. Due to that it seems like there's always positions available, and if you can win the competative part you should have no more trouble finding a job than in other industries.

2. Generally speaking, developers in the industry make less than their non-industry kin. Salary.com will give you a good idea about salaries in different areas. Due to the competativeness in the industry, the low end of the graphs there is the likely pay. Certainly enough to feed a family though. Just watch, as a bunch of places are in high cost of living places. $50k a year doesn't go nearly as far in Silicon Valley as it does pretty much everywhere else in the world.

3. You're probably highly underqualified, but really at 15 everyone's underqualified. You don't need to be a child prodigy, but it certainly would help :]

Working with computers will always help, doing programming doodles will always help. One thing to make sure to do is pay attention in classes, and make sure to pickup some maths and sciences outside of computers. Games tend to make use of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[QUOTE]
Working with computers will always help, doing programming doodles will always help. One thing to make sure to do is pay attention in classes, and make sure to pickup some maths and sciences outside of computers. Games tend to make use of them.
[/QUOTE]

I agree with this... Don't be like me who ignored the importance of math all throughout highschool... I had difficulty coping with my math subjects when I finally realized their importance. However one thing I might be able to share to you... You must know how incorporate those knowledge (in other subjects) with your programming. They would, for all time be helpful to you. Again... Do NOT ignore...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Embedded systems is not a major at the majority of colleges.
Typically your choice is between electrical engineering,
computer engineering, or computer science. As far as being
similar if you take only the standard classes and only get a
BS then electrical or computer engineering(embedded systems or not)
have very little to do with game programming. Even if you do a lot
of programming in the compe degree it is not similar to game programming.
You can learn the skills need, but you probably won't learn them
in class.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As others said, getting a job in the industry is not really an easy thing, but it's not very hard either.
My advice is to make a game (together with other people) and distribute it for free, so that it will become popular. It doesn't have to be a game comparable with the commercial games, but it hould be playable, and if possible original.

However, the questions is, do you REALLY want to work in the industry?
I personally got two offers from some big game companies, but I wasn't interested because I'd rather work as an indie. It's less money, but at least you know you work for yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Raduprv
I personally got two offers from some big game companies, but I wasn't interested because I'd rather work as an indie. It's less money, but at least you know you work for yourself.
It's not really less money, so much as the bottom end of the range is lower. Pretty Good Solitaire has made it's creator a multi-millionaire. Now, this certainly isn't typical, and the guy knows more about the history of solitare and it's various games than one would even want to know, but it does show that if you're willing to forgo ever making something as epic as Halo, with a lot of luck and talent, you can make a lot more than you would on the Halo team, without moving out of a programming position.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes, that's very true.
I plan, in the long run, to make more money than I could make working for a game company.
But until I get there (a few more years, maybe) I will make far less money.
Of course, working for yourself is MUCH more satisfying than working for a company that views you as a number and tries to enslave you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by zeldafreak
1. Just how hard is it to get into the industry? I have heard many conflicting statements, from those saying it is impossibly difficult, and others saying it's easy if you really want to. Is it true that if I try hard and am serious about what I am doing that I will have more-or-less no problem?


If you have a degree, good demos, and are willing to relocate, you'll have no problem. Lack either of those criteria, and you'd better be willing to work double hard on the other ones.

Quote:
2. How much will I make? I'm not in it for the money, but will the money I make actually be able to feed me and a family?


If you're in the game industry, you're probably not going to find the opportunity to start a family, never mind feed one. :) That's why I turned down the chance to get into the industry, in favour of a lower-paid job with more reasonable hours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Kylotan

If you're in the game industry, you're probably not going to find the opportunity to start a family, never mind feed one. :) That's why I turned down the chance to get into the industry, in favour of a lower-paid job with more reasonable hours.


Don't know about the industry you work in, but every industry/company I have seen/worked in always wants to pay less. Its a general criteria - If you are willing to work for less, we will pay less. And the working hours are moderately always insane. On deadlines you see sleepless nights, and otherwise you still see some sleepless nights thanks to the management.

And by the way the Call/Contact Centre industry is far worse than the game industry in terms of hours.



Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The trick of breaking into the industry is education, of course, making games (not just talking about them on message boards), and stop being a broad game programmer and start specializing in a certain area. This could be graphics, artificial intelligence, physics, etc. You want them to contact you. After doing that, I doubt you'll have to rely on "who you know."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by CRACK123
Quote:
Original post by Kylotan

If you're in the game industry, you're probably not going to find the opportunity to start a family, never mind feed one. :) That's why I turned down the chance to get into the industry, in favour of a lower-paid job with more reasonable hours.


Don't know about the industry you work in, but every industry/company I have seen/worked in always wants to pay less.


Yeah, the game company offered me a very good salary.

Quote:
And by the way the Call/Contact Centre industry is far worse than the game industry in terms of hours.


It's not like that in the UK. Call centre workers are almost all part-time. I think a lot of the full-time jobs in that area were outsourced to your country over the last few years. So, we lose jobs, and you guys have to work ridiculous hours... let's hear it for globalisation! </sarcasm>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this