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Do developers enjoy what they do?

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I am currently employed as a System Administrator. I have worked in several locations not as a Sys Admin the entire time but, always on the side of providing computer support. What I have noticed is generally nobody enjoys what they do on the IT support side. It can be very frustrating at times because, employees tend to slack off and cut corners which results in more work for the team in the long run. Along with nobody really enjoying what they are doing, few actually take the time to learn new things. There really isn't a whole lot to the support side of the computer industry. Changes are slow; it's usually the same repetitive tasks over and over again. There is little if any challenge for me anymore. There are all sorts of hoops to go through to get anything proactive done. A whole bureaucracy to get through just to get something innovative implemented. Here is my background. I have worked with computers since I was about 8 years old, I am 23 now. I have several certificates related to providing support to end users such as MCSE, General Networking Operating Systems ect. I have attended a few computer classes at a local community college however 90% of my knowledge is self taught. The problem I have is where I currently am at there is little room for advancement. I have other skills that are not utilized in my current field such as programming. I write scripts every now and then but, I don't consider this programming. I am very familiar with Visual Basic. I started programming at the age of 16 in Visual Basic, mostly creating applications for myself to help speed work along. At my age I see a lot of future opportunity but, not in the industry I am involved in. I love to be challenged but, providing support to "retarded" end users is not the kind of mental challenge I am looking for. I have been an AVID and I mean AVID Hardcore Gamer since I was very young. When I am released from the prison I call work my escape is playing video games constantly. I have purchased almost every video game system and have a massive collection of games. Video games give me inspiration like nothing else in this world. Recently I had an epiphany that, hey you play video games so much, you enjoy programming and it's a new challenge with every new project I create for myself. Perhaps now is time for a career change. I am very very interested in getting into the video game industry. Mostly the programming side. I have other skills such as modeling, artwork, and music however programming is most certainly my strong skill set. However I am fairly well versed in anything that can be done with or on a computer including hardware. On to my question... Do video game programmers enjoy what they do? What is the environment link? Are people hardworking willing to learn new things. I think the video game industry has a more fresh feel too it. Newer idea's greater enthusiasm. I understand they yes it's a grid just like any other job out there. It can be a royal pain sometimes but, those things pass. What I want to know is from people in the industry do you usually wake up in the morning excited to go to work? I am willing right now to drop everything relocate (I am in Michigan) to attend classes at a trade school such as Full Sail, UAT ect. I have newer programmed a video game however a few days ago I purchased a book on the Video Game industry with the name "Breaking into the Video Game Industry" I have almost finished the book and I have the feeling that yes this is what I need to do with the rest of my life. I also bought some books on programming in C/C++ creating video games. I will start working though the examples and see what I can learn on my own before starting classes to try and get familiar programming video games. I have a natural ability to pick up programming so this part doesn't scare me. Personally I love the challenge. I would just like to hear from some real people out there with real jobs. Am I heading in the right direction? PS: Sorry for all the rambling.

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If you work hard for achieve your dreams, you will obtain a successful life.
Game Industry is some similar to the Music Industry. Innovation is the key, and take risks is the rule.

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Ah! Also, you should be prepared to run your own bussiness. May you would start as independent freelancer.

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I find the topic question quite interesting. Maybe this topic should be moved to the lounge so it gets the attention it deserves?

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I think any _good_ programmer has to be fairly motivated and enjoy what he does, because there are so many times when the easiest things (or so they seem) go wrong. Its a very frustrating art, but it can also be very rewarding. Its just so much work that I think a programmer has to enjoy his job.

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Original post by Murtasma
Do video game programmers enjoy what they do? What is the environment link? Are people hardworking willing to learn new things. I think the video game industry has a more fresh feel too it. Newer idea's greater enthusiasm. I understand they yes it's a grid just like any other job out there. It can be a royal pain sometimes but, those things pass. What I want to know is from people in the industry do you usually wake up in the morning excited to go to work?


Hmm, the best way to put it is that if you don't enjoy it, you tend to find another career. Typically, you can get paid more in other industries, and usually get a more regular workload too.

So those who actually stick with it only have one reason, really. It must be because they like it. [grin]

However, the other side is that there's a fairly high burnout rate too. A lot of people get into game development, enjoy it for a couple of years, and then burn out due to too high workload and too much stress. And then they usually find a different job in another industry.

Quote:

I would just like to hear from some real people out there with real jobs.

Oops, I don't qualify there. I'm just a student interested in game development. but the above is what I've heard from countless sources. [grin]

Quote:

Am I heading in the right direction?

Well, Full sail isn't mandatory. Some kind of programming-related degree is more or less a must these days, but a general CS degree is typically just as good as a specialized one from Full Sail or other game dev schools.

But anyway, are you headed in the right direction? If it's what you want to do, then yes. [lol]
If you don't enjoy your current job, it's time to find something else. If you think you'd like making games, then go for that.

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I work as a programmer doing engine/gameplay work and most recently leading the design and development of our new tools. I am not much older than you at 26, and can not imagine a better career. I love going to work everyday, which is the case with just about everybody I work with. Some of us work on things from home in the evenings or on weekends (my wife doesn't always like this, but is happy that I love my job that much), but don't think that long hours are "required". We pull a few extra hours around big milestones, but people pretty much work a 40 hour week. I hope this helps. By the way, if you are looking at colleges, I would highly recommend Digipen...I was the second DP graduate at my company, and now we make up half of the programming staff (including our lead engine programmer). I know everybody has an opinion on game schools...I just thought I would give you mine.

Good luck,
Scott

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Wow thanks for the great responses! Where I work more then 1/2 the team members don't have a degree supporting our systems here. They are not seeking one. They got the job based on past experience or working as temp for many years. Once you have the job here (local university) due to labor laws it's very hard to get rid of someone. No one does any work from home, everyone just does enough not to get fired.

From the previous posted this is exactly what I am looking for a job where if you don't know the stuff you will get canned and if you can't take the pressure which probably means you don't enjoy the work you will find work somewhere else.

I love taking scripts home and working on them. I want to eat and breathe my job however breaks every now and then are a must. I mean I still got to play video games right!

BTW: Is it possible for me to move this thread to the lounge like recommended?

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Original post by scott_l_smith
I hope this helps. By the way, if you are looking at colleges, I would highly recommend Digipen...I was the second DP graduate at my company, and now we make up half of the programming staff (including our lead engine programmer). I know everybody has an opinion on game schools...I just thought I would give you mine.

Good luck,
Scott


I was considering DigiPen as well. I have to do a lot of reseach on the schools first but that is in my top 3. I really need to figure out how I am going to fund this endevor, any possible scholarships ect. How much did it cost to attend?

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Another happy game developer checking in [smile]


At this point in your life, you're young enough that I'd say just go for it. Worst case you'll burn a few years and find out you don't actually enjoy programming - but you'll have learned plenty, especially about yourself. Better to take the risk and have it turn out badly than spend your life miserable and wondering "what if."

And, of course, if you get lucky, you'll find yourself with a great career.


As has been mentioned, people in this business have to be highly motivated, constantly looking for self-improvement, and generally enthusiastic about what we do. Just be aware that what we do is not at all like playing games all day - I've played a grand total of two different games in the past 5 months, and haven't beaten either one of them yet. For the right sort of person, the work is still enjoyable - for me personally the challenge and reward of building a complicated system is an even better rush than finishing all three Doom games on Nightmare [wink]

Again, I say give it a shot - find out if it's right for you. There's plenty of great advice stashed around in various threads here about getting started in the industry, so you should be covered.


Best of luck!

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I can only speak for myself on this. I don't have a game development job at the moment (postgrad student right now) but once I was a programmer at a games company for a short while.

Firstly, I'd have to point out that there's a huge amount of variety in working conditions throughout the game industry. Someone working at a huge publisher will have a different experience from that working at a small developer house, which will be different from a solo indie. So the mileage in working conditions and enjoyment will also vary widely. So the experience I had working in games might be a lot different from most other people's - I'm not sure. However I'll assume you are aiming for a programming position at a smallish game development house, like I was.

Secondly, although you probably realise this, playing games and making games are completely different things, although enjoying playing games is regarded as one of the prerequisites to being a good developer. Even playtesting games is a different thing - playtesting usually isn't nearly as fun. In fact, since I helped out with the in-house alpha testing on PC games a lot back when I was a programmer, I switched to playing on consoles for that period and several months after I left due to being burn-out playing on the PC.

Thirdly, don't forget game development is a job (you probably realise this too!). It might have some great upsides, such as working with artists (loved that!) and some interesting programming problems to solve (loved that too!), but it is a job, with all the stresses and responsibilities involved.

And as a job, game development typically has lower pay and longer hours than nearly any other comparable job. While I had a lot of fun working the first few months, once we started hitting crunch time, dealing with crazy demands from the publisher, working consecutive 80+-hour work weeks and never seeing the sun - that can really sap the enjoyment out of a job.

It quickly got to the point where I realised that for the sake of both my physical and mental health I couldn't work like that. Now I'm working towards other jobs that have many of positives of game development without quite as many unhealthy negatives (presently aiming for academic).

Of course, now I'm here making games for fun as a hobby, and dreaming of possibly going fully down the indie path, so I admit I too am still considering once again whether game development is the ideal career path for me. However I wouldn't want you to have too rosy a view of what commercial game development is like. As Spoonbender wrote, most of those people who stick in the industry for several years must really love it, but the burnout rate is very high.

And if you really, really, really like making games, then obviously being a game developer is right for you!

Best of luck!


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Along with nobody really enjoying what they are doing, few actually take the time to learn new things.


Does someone other than me see a correlation here? Maybe it'd be more fun if you actually learned new things! Of course, that means that you have to have time to do that, and not spend 100% of your time fighting the next London fire.

Do I enjoy developing? At times, and at times not. It's those "not" parts that separate a "job" from a "hobby," and why you get a pay check...

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Original post by Trapper Zoid
I can only speak for myself on this. I don't have a game development job at the moment (postgrad student right now) but once I was a programmer at a games company for a short while.

Firstly, I'd have to point out that there's a huge amount of variety in working conditions throughout the game industry. Someone working at a huge publisher will have a different experience from that working at a small developer house, which will be different from a solo indie. So the mileage in working conditions and enjoyment will also vary widely. So the experience I had working in games might be a lot different from most other people's - I'm not sure. However I'll assume you are aiming for a programming position at a smallish game development house, like I was.

Secondly, although you probably realise this, playing games and making games are completely different things, although enjoying playing games is regarded as one of the prerequisites to being a good developer. Even playtesting games is a different thing - playtesting usually isn't nearly as fun. In fact, since I helped out with the in-house alpha testing on PC games a lot back when I was a programmer, I switched to playing on consoles for that period and several months after I left due to being burn-out playing on the PC.

Thirdly, don't forget game development is a job (you probably realise this too!). It might have some great upsides, such as working with artists (loved that!) and some interesting programming problems to solve (loved that too!), but it is a job, with all the stresses and responsibilities involved.

And as a job, game development typically has lower pay and longer hours than nearly any other comparable job. While I had a lot of fun working the first few months, once we started hitting crunch time, dealing with crazy demands from the publisher, working consecutive 80+-hour work weeks and never seeing the sun - that can really sap the enjoyment out of a job.

It quickly got to the point where I realised that for the sake of both my physical and mental health I couldn't work like that. Now I'm working towards other jobs that have many of positives of game development without quite as many unhealthy negatives (presently aiming for academic).

Of course, now I'm here making games for fun as a hobby, and dreaming of possibly going fully down the indie path, so I admit I too am still considering once again whether game development is the ideal career path for me. However I wouldn't want you to have too rosy a view of what commercial game development is like. As Spoonbender wrote, most of those people who stick in the industry for several years must really love it, but the burnout rate is very high.

And if you really, really, really like making games, then obviously being a game developer is right for you!

Best of luck!



What an honest answer to the question. This is just what I was looking for. I am not sure if I could handle 80 hour work weeks but, it's not constantly like that. I love brining work I really enjoy home to keep working on. There have been programs I have created for my work where I constantly worked on them at work and outside of work for a period of a month or more. The time just flew by for me. Once you get that new section of code working great and seeing it in action. Things really start to come together and I get further modivated and few things will stop me. I completly understand that making video games is diffrent then playing them. This woudln't bother me if I really find it enjoyable. Heck maybe I can beat this video game addiction out of me which would be great. :)

If things don't work out I will of course leave with a wealth of knowlege that could be translated into almost any other pgoramming field I wish. So if things don't work out not all is lost. I still have the potential of having a great programming skill set that could be used to create applications.

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Perhaps the more appropriate question would be if SysAdmins enjoy what they do... Personally, I always enjoyed the work, and every one of my peers enjoyed the work. Some do, some don't, just like pretty much every other profession.

It sounds like you might be bothered more by the environment rather than the job description. Throwing out the job description over environment issues might be a little premature and/or overzealous.

Game specific training is also not really necissary. UMich has a good CS program, and should be pretty close to you; I'd look into that before throwing your life in the blender over some dreams and the recommendation of anonymous forum members.

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Original post by Murtasma
What an honest answer to the question. This is just what I was looking for. I am not sure if I could handle 80 hour work weeks but, it's not constantly like that.


No, but could you cope with 4 such weeks in a row? What about 12? I've had friends do that many, and more. It's why I'm not in the industry.

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Original post by Telastyn
Perhaps the more appropriate question would be if SysAdmins enjoy what they do... Personally, I always enjoyed the work, and every one of my peers enjoyed the work. Some do, some don't, just like pretty much every other profession.

It sounds like you might be bothered more by the environment rather than the job description. Throwing out the job description over environment issues might be a little premature and/or overzealous.

Game specific training is also not really necissary. UMich has a good CS program, and should be pretty close to you; I'd look into that before throwing your life in the blender over some dreams and the recommendation of anonymous forum members.


Having workers who don't seem to enjoy the work is just one reason why I want to get out. I've been doing this for 6 years and it has only gotten more boring with time. I don't see it getting better I have worked at other places and they have all been very similar for me at least.

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Original post by Kylotan
Quote:
Original post by Murtasma
What an honest answer to the question. This is just what I was looking for. I am not sure if I could handle 80 hour work weeks but, it's not constantly like that.


No, but could you cope with 4 such weeks in a row? What about 12? I've had friends do that many, and more. It's why I'm not in the industry.



I honestly can't for sure because I haven't done something like that. But, when I am doing something I enjoy I feel like I could do it forever. The only way to find out is to try.

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I would recommend getting a standard 4 year degree from an accredited school. That way, if you find that the life is not for you (80 hours can be considered a short week during crunch - it's not constantly like that, but it can be for months at a time) you have a very good fall back plan.

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Original post by Telastyn
Perhaps the more appropriate question would be if SysAdmins enjoy what they do... Personally, I always enjoyed the work, and every one of my peers enjoyed the work. Some do, some don't, just like pretty much every other profession.

It sounds like you might be bothered more by the environment rather than the job description. Throwing out the job description over environment issues might be a little premature and/or overzealous.

Game specific training is also not really necissary. UMich has a good CS program, and should be pretty close to you; I'd look into that before throwing your life in the blender over some dreams and the recommendation of anonymous forum members.


I'm actually Wolverine majoring in CS and I second that. The CS program here is very good with knowledgeable professors, but its also tough. I spoke to an advisor taht told me he thinks the CS (really what we call EECS) is one of the most demanding programs in the University.

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Programming games is cool, but nothing like PLAYING games.

A job is a job, no matter what. And programming is programming... we simply have a more entertaining / beautiful output (compared to accounting apps).

That said, I enjoy my job, but still hate to have to work crazy hours for weeks. When you live with your girlfriend, its actually cool to see her once in a while. And when she's not there, you feel like shit to leave work to do your laundry then come back at work, cause that's the only way you'll have clean underwears the day after :P

Seriously though, it has its ups and downs. My job experience is as follows: small business apps place, Nortel Networks, small games studio and now a large game studio. In my opinion, size DOES matter, and the smaller the better :/

Anyway, I still like my job else I'd be somewhere else, but I'm stressed out / tired most of the time.

Cheers

Eric

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Original post by xEricx
Programming games is cool, but nothing like PLAYING games.

A job is a job, no matter what. And programming is programming... we simply have a more entertaining / beautiful output (compared to accounting apps).

That said, I enjoy my job, but still hate to have to work crazy hours for weeks. When you live with your girlfriend, its actually cool to see her once in a while. And when she's not there, you feel like shit to leave work to do your laundry then come back at work, cause that's the only way you'll have clean underwears the day after :P

Seriously though, it has its ups and downs. My job experience is as follows: small business apps place, Nortel Networks, small games studio and now a large game studio. In my opinion, size DOES matter, and the smaller the better :/

Anyway, I still like my job else I'd be somewhere else, but I'm stressed out / tired most of the time.

Cheers

Eric



I would more then likely want to work for a smaller company instead of a larger one.

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Oh, and I might be an exception, but I spend way less time playing games at home... I used to be an avid gamer and now I probably spend MAX 2-3hrs / week on games...

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Hmm... a couple of things, some reiterating others' comments:

Playing games and making games are different things. It's still work, but if you like programming, the end result is more interesting than Database Spreadsheet #225.B

Crunch time stinks. Depending on the production cycle and company you work for, this may or may not be a long period, but when you're stuck at work for an 80 hour week for three or more weeks, it grates on you.

Wildly variable conditions. One company may be the coolest place to work in your state... and its neighbor may be worse than flipping burgers. There's little industry cohesiveness, so you'll have to do your homework.

Unstable industry. A corollary to the variable conditions, the cool place to work may not be there next fall, while the crummy place may be the only studio to work with for the next five years.

Localized industry. If you don't like California, your options are minimal. There are studios all over the place, but most are small and inherantly unstable. And they don't have all that impressive games, for the most part.

Retarded testers. Maybe you won't have to deal with end users (but if you're on PC, working on patch 12.49c, you will have some of this still), but most decent companies have testers that try to break your game. Some of these people are bright, professional testers that make the game better. Some are typing Shakespeare in the zoo with the other chimps in their spare time. There are idiots everywhere. (So you'll just have to get used to them. No big deal.)

The Final Fantasy conundrum. You won't get to work on Final Fantasy. Or World of Warcraft. Or Doom. OK, OK, there are exceptions, but especially starting out, be prepared to work on many projects, and none of them are likely to be blockbusters. Yeah, this one's obvious, but worth noting.

Education. Don't bother with a specialized game school. You are studying CS at a good university. Stay there and finish the degree. Your university experience with real educational breadth and depth will serve you much better than a specialized education at Digipen or the like. Are they bad? Not really, but they are expensive and don't cover the width of problems you're likely to tackle in the real development world. They are more like a seminar in that respect; tasty, but not filling.

Bureaucracy. There will always be a chain of command, and at some level, that chain will either break or be useless. Some managers exist simply to be a dead zone between the CEO and the people who actually get the work done. If you're unhappy with the things you're dealing with, well... that happens everywhere. The bigger the company, the less effective it is. In games, the extra layers of managing are also there to squelch out innovation in the name of minimizing risk. That's sound business, but if you want to have creative input, you'll have to accept the risk inherant in a smaller company with less management.

Learning. Well, in any industry, you'll pretty much just have to be self-motivated there. Companies exist to earn money, not to have their employees learning... things. Good companies recognize that education is the key to progress, but most, especially the heavily bureaucratic ones, just don't place much value in education.

Management. A corollary to the others, management may or may not actually understand what you are doing. Good managers will know, bad ones will just "manage" and you'll have to turn their businessspeak into real solutions. This one's pretty common and obvious, too, but sometimes it's really been a bother in my experience.

Ethical/Moral considerations. Maybe it's irrelevant, but if you're not comfortable working on things like GTA or Doom, your choices will be narrowed further, since those seem to dominate the market... and the money.

If you're looking for a mental challenge, it's almost better to go the Academia route. Yes, there's good times to be had in the game industry, but it's not the holy grail of careers.

Perhaps the most troubling thing about it is that games are luxuries. Well duh, sure, but people don't really need what we make. They want games, they like games, but there's a big "Emperor's New Clothes" potential when people start to live real lives. Entertainment, like art, just doesn't get all the respect it deserves, and tends to fall through the pay scale and respect meter cracks as a result.

You may find that creating something beautiful is deeply satisfying on levels that drudge databasing can't touch. That's the good part, and if you're still interested after hearing about some of the underbelly of the beast, it's most definitely something worth trying.

I'm enjoying my tenure in the industry, but it's a means to an end for me. I'm good at it, and it pays the bills. My long-term career goals are in Academia, but in the meantime, this is a fine place to be.

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Love that reply Silverwings. It's seems a very truthfull and down to earth example of the lower end of the industry. The best part about this industry in my opinion is that you can make it on your own. You don't have to go work for someone else. It's almost like a career in music.

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Original post by -JetSirus-
Love that reply Silverwings. It's seems a very truthfull and down to earth example of the lower end of the industry. The best part about this industry in my opinion is that you can make it on your own. You don't have to go work for someone else. It's almost like a career in music.


True, JetSirus. If you're running your own company, it's a different story. I haven't tried that yet... but my tolerance for risk is low, since I need to support a family. :D

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