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Am I too old?

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Hi guys, I'll start with the usual apologies for posting a question which may have already been asked somewhere else....sorry! Anyway, my question is this...Am I too old to think seriously about a career of someform in programming? I've been a fairly big fan of games since forever, and in my [very] younger days I seriously enjoyed programming games on my old spectrum and with my mate on his pc, although the 'games' were never anything special, it was something i really enjoyed. But then for one reason and another it tailed off and now I'm 23 [not shockingly old I know], but have basically no recollection of anything I used to be able to do, and as such am going to have to learn it all again... So, is it worth my while, or by the time I've learnt enough, which from what I've read, could take a fair few years, am I going to be too old to be taken 'seriously' enough by the 'industry'? Or should I just settle for a more casual pursuit, I.e. making games purely for my own enjoyment ? Thanks, MK

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#1: 23 year old "am I too old?". hahahaha. that's a good one. =) you've only lived for 1/4 of your likely life span yet... every little thing you've done so far in life you could do 3 more times before dying.

when i graduated college i was 23 and had a biology degree. I'd taken exactly one programming course in college (required for my major). I certainly played around with computers and taught myself programming but no official training.

Out of college I got a frontend web programming job (had to teach myself Java/JSP to pass the interview). Now I'm 30 and am working as an AI programmer for a big game publisher.

So no, not even remotely too old.

In fact, just as a random anecdote about age and career. A friend's father decided at the age of 40 that what he really wanted to be was a doctor. So he went to med school and became one.

There is no age beyond which career change is impossible. Your only limitation is within your own brain.

-me

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Yes.

There is a particular neural pathway in the brain that is necessary for truly learning to program. This pathway is eventually consumed by the brain to construct the pathway for eros. If you have not become a master programmer before this point, it's too late. Your head will be full of distracting thoughts that will prevent you from becoming a competent programmer; at best you can expect to learn to copy and paste in Visual Basic.

I recommend giving up and trying gold farming.

In seriousness though, this sort of situation is no different than anyone else trying to switch from Career A to Career B. Certainly, it may be easier if you start young (more time provides more opportunity for experience), but this does not magically infer a person competence. I've met plenty of people that have had years of experience and still weren't much above the aforementioned copy-paste level. The ability to stick with it and actually figure things out is what will help you the most.

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Hells No!!
Age is relative man!
Fight the power!
:P JK, but really, you aren't to old unless you think you are too old.

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I'm going to be 31 when I graduate. I already managed to get a games programming job though and I'm considering doing a Masters degree too (but thats as far as i'm going to take it I don't intend on being a lifetime academic). 23 is young. Whilst everybody seems to think that theres a certain age where your brain picks up the most information, it seems to me that most of the people who have dropped out of my course have been the kids in the 18 to 21 age range who just arn't mature enough to realise that they need to put effort in to get something back. Pick up a book have a flick through and then if it all comes flooding back then go for it.
Seriously the only thing that you haven't got going for you is living in Scunthorpe :p

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This isn't boxing man. You can become an engineer/programmer anytime you like.
Thats the beauty of being in a career where you use your mind not your hands.
there is not Age factor.

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My mom became a network administrator when she was 61 and had never worked on computers before. She is now very good at her job.

So if you think at 23 years old you are too old, you really still just a kid.

theTroll

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I'm going to be 30 this year, and I only recently dropped the VB6 torch and finally decided it's time to make a foray into modern programming (which to me means C# and .NET). I'd thought about it for a couple years and just didn't feel like it was important enough to invest the time it would take to relearn basically everything I know about programming. Well, I got tired of waiting on myself.

The worst part of growing old is losing interest. I went through the worst part of my life feeling like everything I ever aspired to be was immature and frivolous. I had to remind myself that there are a great many professionals who make games for a living. They love doing it, and they get paid major bucks. Computer games consume an enormous part of people's lives, even for casual gamers. They're really no different from movies, television, music, or even books in that they fulfill a basic need for entertainment. Computer games are the best medium of all because they can be far more interactive than books or movies. That's to say nothing of network gaming, my favorite past-time of all (that involves keeping your clothes on).

Age isn't the issue. Motivation is the issue, and you'll find it declining as you get older. It's like a fire, and you have to keep feeding it. Even if it goes out, you can always start a new one. Your first problem is figuring out what motivates you, and then you'll be free to do whatever makes you happy.

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If you have the desire and are ready to work hard enough you can do ANYTHING. Hard work can do wonders, no matter what age you are, and as Palidine said, 23 is not even remotely too old for anything. Do you want to be a game programmer? No problem, all you need to do is start working on it right away.

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wow it seems everyone here is 30 something (like me) oh I wish I had 23... but hey just take into account that some jobs have certain requirements specially in the IT industry such as "looking for programmer 24 - 29 years old" oh crap and then you start thinking you are too old...

I remember I touched my first computer at the age of 16 or so... now, at 16 some kids are already making games damn!

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Being 19 and just finishing my first year of uni, I honestly think its better to go to uni when your a bit older, I think if I was to do my course in 4/5 years I'd probably benefit more, at the moment I party more than I study...so in short no, your never too young to change career (unless you are).

[edit]lol at first I put "Being 199 and just finishing my first year of uni" which is quite fitting for the question.

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One thought about the community college thing...
I went to a community college for 1 year. Since I already knew how to code, I decided to take up a major in electronic engineering. As it turned out...I had the worst teacher ever and not a single person in the class learned a thing. We all passed however...but what good did that do anybody???
I now have no desire whatsoever to ever learn anything about electronic engineering that I didnt teach myself in high school. So after that I spent my 2nd semester of that year taking a course in Java. I already knew how to program in a few other languages, and therefore passed with flying colors (once you know 2 or 3 languages you start to realize the similarities as well as differences to look out for between them). Anyhow, the teacher didn't seem that bad to me...but I also already knew all the concepts required, and plus I only attended a couple minutes of class every day since being marked as attending was part of the grade. The final result?? The class started at 25 people...by the end of the semester I counted 7.
Community colleges are great for getting your core classes for a very cheap price...then perhaps transferring to a university to learn the stuff specific to your major. But you should be very cautious taking classes at a dirt cheap school for something like this... I'm sure there are plenty of people that have had great experiences with community colleges...but I would watch out.

On a side note...needless to say I never attended college again after that. Started running a music studio in a really bad part of town...and now (4 years later) I have finally (luckily) landed a job in the programming industry, and gotten away from all that.

But yeah...I agree with the idea that the motivation to apply maths to making video games would probably inspire you to understand those maths a lot more. I say go for it - there's nothing like making your own interactive world where only your imagination will limit you!

Cheers
-Scott

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Quote:
Original post by VerMan
but hey just take into account that some jobs have certain requirements specially in the IT industry such as "looking for programmer 24 - 29 years old" oh crap and then you start thinking you are too old...

Won't happen. Mentioning an age range in a job offer is illegal, unless the age is an absolute requirement for the job (not the case for IT jobs).

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Answer: No

I'm 25 and I'm game Designer for HeadGames. I went out of college at 24. Everything is possible if you got the talent :)

Good luck, and have fun!

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Putting your comments and your age together seems like the question is done as a joke.
I was still in college at 23 and not even being any computer related jobs yet.
It doesn't seem like you have much starting over to do if you programmed in your early days (the computer language you use will likely be different).

When I started working after college, I figured I learned all the languages I'd need for my job (C/C++/Java) and then it turned out I was hired for QA and not development. Everyone there knew perl. So I learned perl. Then they said, let's port our tests to python. So I learned python. Since I was in charge of a web-based product, I also had to learn php. Then they said, if you want to lead automation, master Java. So I go back to school and learn a bit more Java.

Long story short, learning programming is the easy part if you can understand the logic and grammar of the language. Most common programming languages today came from the same family (unless you get a strange job), so learning one makes it easy to learn the others.

If I program games though, it will just be casual since I have very little "free" time.

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I'll just add this: I started in games at the age of 35, so I'd say you have time enough. [wink]

hth,
CipherCraft

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I've been worried about the exact same thing lately. I'm 24 but have never stopped going to school. I got a BA degree in Japanese, just because it had always been a dream to learn Japanese and live in Japan. Now I've done both and since I didn't really consider making a career out of just Japanese I've been pondering what to do next. But I do feel that I'm getting too old for my own liking when considering getting another degree. I'll be at least 27 when I graduate because the European university standard is generally 3 year degrees, not 4. I'll be 27 when I start my first real job in my life, it's all been summer jobs and part-time jobs with school up until now.
The school system here in Iceland is also very different from most other countries in the regard that we don't graduate from high-school until we're 20, at which point we can enroll in a university.

I've been contemplating a career in either computer science or architecture (which requires 5 years of study) for almost two years now, and finally I chose to enroll in computer science which I'm starting late august this year, and I'm very excited and optimistic about studying computer science and my future in general. Still, I wish a was a bit younger, but like others have said I think its really never too late.

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Quote:
Original post by popsoftheyear
But yeah...I agree with the idea that the motivation to apply maths to making video games would probably inspire you to understand those maths a lot more.

Felt compelled to reply to this. I took five years of math in four years of high school, everything my school had to offer, and when I graduated, I didn't really understand half of what we covered. It wasn't until I got into programming the year after high school that I realized how useful math would be, so I pulled out my old notes (kept them all) and studied them, basically self-taught myself trig and geometry primer. It was all there; I simply hadn't had a context for learning it until later in life. It was sort of like deciphering code that someone had given me years before.

I'm in college now, and picking up all the math I can, not because math in general is useful (it is, mind you), but because it is specifically useful to graphics programmers, and that's what I want to be (a better one, anyway). So, the most important thing to remember about any subject is that it has to matter to you or you're not going to learn anything! Again, I'm turning 30 in five months, and I learn something new and useful every day. Good luck to you!

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Quote:
Original post by Tom
Quote:
Original post by popsoftheyear
But yeah...I agree with the idea that the motivation to apply maths to making video games would probably inspire you to understand those maths a lot more.

Felt compelled to reply to this. I took five years of math in four years of high school, everything my school had to offer, and when I graduated, I didn't really understand half of what we covered. It wasn't until I got into programming the year after high school that I realized how useful math would be, so I pulled out my old notes (kept them all) and studied them, basically self-taught myself trig and geometry primer. It was all there; I simply hadn't had a context for learning it until later in life. It was sort of like deciphering code that someone had given me years before.


Adding to that, I am in the process of teaching myself Pre-Calculus off of some CD's I bought at the local college bookstore... :) so, even if you don't like math, it is probably not the math that you don't like, but more likely that it is the way it was tought to you that you don't like, especially if you like(d) programming.

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The simple and sweet answer: You aren't too old until your either dead, dying, or so old and disabled from arthritis that you can't move your fingers. But of course, maybe thats just my view on it ;)

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Quote:
Original post by Yann L
Quote:
Original post by VerMan
but hey just take into account that some jobs have certain requirements specially in the IT industry such as "looking for programmer 24 - 29 years old" oh crap and then you start thinking you are too old...

Won't happen. Mentioning an age range in a job offer is illegal, unless the age is an absolute requirement for the job (not the case for IT jobs).


Well, I'm from Mexico... and there it's very common, actually 90% of the job offers in IT have that 24 - 29 (maybe up to 34). Sad but true. Uhmm maybe that's why i'm not living there anymore...

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Quote:
Original post by VerMan
Well, I'm from Mexico... and there it's very common, actually 90% of the job offers in IT have that 24 - 29 (maybe up to 34). Sad but true. Uhmm maybe that's why i'm not living there anymore...


Those aren't jobs - they are sweatshops.

They hire people with no experience, usually with no alternatives, employ them cheap, avoid on all the additional costs (taxes, medical benefits, pension plans), then fire them at a whim, either when project is complete, when a restructuring happens, or if it's Tuesday.

24-29 demographic has no family, no obligations, low expenses, tends to be naive, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, yet inexperienced, and very forgiving. They are the today's equivalent of cheap slave labor - and in most such shops they get treated as such. This is universally true, it's not just Mexico.

If a job advert is looking for age-specific group - expect sweatshop, where you'll be a no-name number.

You don't want to work in such a job unless you're really desperate for little money. Average employment time in such companies is usually measured in weeks or months.

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