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I have a couple of questions about an article I read. from http://job-hopster.blogspot.com/2007/07/gamers-beware.html : "For one, the market is now pretty flooded with graduates. Comparitively to other industries, such as design or advertising, there really aren't a lot of thriving gaming studios." Now, first off, I thought that there were loads and loads of game studios, and about 37 games get released every day. And those big companies about which he is talking, they offer loads of work. second "The market being flooded with graduates", I dont really believe there are that many game specific educations really? Was this "professional" just lacking skills and being competed away and blaming it on the game industry? Or are there really too many programmers (which seems highly unlikely to me). Are there any people with alot of insight into the industry who can clarify this for me? I am really curious whether the few companies are flooded with graduates or not. Also this was strikign "It is not unheard of to work 70-100 hours a week in the gaming industry." 100 hours a week, 7 days a week, 14 hours a day? assuming you (on average) sleep 8 hours, which leaves 2 free hours a day? unlikely it is. So is this article even close to reality or written by a desillusional person? Any thoughts? Thanks

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Well, there are a lot of people who want to get into the industry. If you're determined and have skills, you're going to get a job.
Of course this might mean relocating to another city to find work or putting in lots of extra time to get a wicked portfolio.

As far as the hours go, I don't agree it should be like that, and there's no excuse but poor management. I however have pulled 7 days a week - 14 hour days numerous times to get a job done. It really shouldn't be the case, and definitely depends on the project, but be prepared for hours like that if you're going into the industry.

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Original post by Dolf
second "The market being flooded with graduates", I dont really believe there are that many game specific educations really?

"Game specific educations" have little to do with the amount of graduates looking to get into the game industry. A traditional comp-sci degree is more than sufficient.

Quote:

Also this was strikign "It is not unheard of to work 70-100 hours a week in the gaming industry."
100 hours a week, 7 days a week, 14 hours a day? assuming you (on average) sleep 8 hours, which leaves 2 free hours a day? unlikely it is.


This is the exception, not the rule. Since projects can be on pretty tight deadlines, it's not uncommon to crunch and work 60-70+ hour weeks when a milestone is close at hand, but on the norm work weeks are 40 hours.

As for the market being "flooded", I'm not so sure about that. Pretty much all companies I know of are hiring programmers, and having a pretty hard time filling all their open positions. It may be a bit harder to find entry-level work, but as long as you know what you're doing, getting a job in the industry isn't impossible.

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I agree with Driv3MeFar. Experienced, smart engineers are few and far between. There's tons of programming jobs out there. Looking good on paper is not the same as passing the interview. Also, 8 hour days is the norm. Some people work longer, but its not "required". Milestone deadlines can be unforgiving, so occasionally everyone will work into the night or on weekends.

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Its true that the games industry is *very* competitive in terms of getting your foot in the door, however I wouldn't say that the market is flooded with qualified candidates merely that it is flooded with hopefull candidates. In other words, there's no excess of high-quality, qualified grads entering the market, rather, there is an excess of people who want to get into the games industry, regardless of whether or not they have the necessary training or skills.

This does have some unfortunate side-effects: Firstly, the appearant overflow of job seekers is partly responsible for relatively low entry salaries as far as programming goes. Its also partly responsible for poor working conditions and long hours. Both of these are because some bad dev studios view new entrants as nearly disposable resources -- use them up and throw them away, who cares if you burn them out on 60+ hour work weeks when they'll keep doing coming in for roughly half the salary as a similarly skilled database programmer in a non-gaming company because they are desperate to get into the industry. Who cares if you burn them out when there are 100 similar individuals just like them that will jump in when they finally give out and leave.

sustained 100-hour work weeks are not common. Possibly during a hard crunch, but crunch at a well-managed studio is minimal and meant to be avoided altogether. Such schedules are not a symptom of the games industry, its symptomatic of poor management at a particular studio.

To be a veteran in the game industry, say, more than 3 years or so, much more value is placed on that employee. Salaries typically will fare better against those 3 year database programmers, though not always matching it.

Keep in mind also that despite all the "Game College" commercials you might see on television, or ads you might read in a magazine, really none of these places turn out qualified, skilled developers. Devry? ITT? Please! Basically no one in the industry hires those grads because the majority of them, save the ones with enough drive to self-study, are completely lacking. Which is not to say that no one having passed through those programs are ever qualified, to be clear, only that those Devry/ITT -like programs didn't do anything for them. They would have been better of at University, a better games-centric program like the Guildhall or Digipen, or possibly better off simply studying on their own.

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"Devry? ITT? Please! Basically no one in the industry hires those grads because the majority of them, save the ones with enough drive to self-study, are completely lacking. Which is not to say that no one having passed through those programs are ever qualified, to be clear, only that those Devry/ITT -like programs didn't do anything for them. They would have been better of at University, a better games-centric program like the Guildhall or Digipen, or possibly better off simply studying on their own."

But IF there is a proper game education, let's say a 4 year bachelor program for game programming for example, would those grads be starting at a beginner level salary or 4 year experience salary? Since all they SHOULD be doing in that time is learning and building up a portfolio.

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Original post by Dolf
But IF there is a proper game education, let's say a 4 year bachelor program for game programming for example, would those grads be starting at a beginner level salary or 4 year experience salary? Since all they SHOULD be doing in that time is learning and building up a portfolio.


No. If you've never worked on a professional game you are an entry level, no matter what your past hobby/educational experience. Not having worked professionally in the industry == no experience.

In school you will be on team sizes that max at about 15 people (but more likely 2-3 people). A AAA game team is 50-100 people. It's a fundamentally different game; as a noob to the industry, you'll find that the code you write will generally have effects on systems you didn't even know existed. Professional experience is 10% ability bonus and 90% "working with others" bonus.

You could be the best single programmer in the world, but if you've never worked on a big team before, you're going to suck all over the place and need to be mentored.

-me

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Quote:
Original post by Palidine
Quote:
Original post by Dolf
But IF there is a proper game education, let's say a 4 year bachelor program for game programming for example, would those grads be starting at a beginner level salary or 4 year experience salary? Since all they SHOULD be doing in that time is learning and building up a portfolio.


No. If you've never worked on a professional game you are an entry level, no matter what your past hobby/educational experience. Not having worked professionally in the industry == no experience.

In school you will be on team sizes that max at about 15 people (but more likely 2-3 people). A AAA game team is 50-100 people. It's a fundamentally different game; as a noob to the industry, you'll find that the code you write will generally have effects on systems you didn't even know existed. Professional experience is 10% ability bonus and 90% "working with others" bonus.

You could be the best single programmer in the world, but if you've never worked on a big team before, you're going to suck all over the place and need to be mentored.

-me


Palidine is correct with mentioning the experience. As an example the company I work for had two people join our team last winter. One joined with 9 years of non-game industry programming experience and one joined fresh from University. Both of them started with the same entry-level title (much to the first persons anger).

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Original post by Palidine
It's a fundamentally different game; as a noob to the industry, you'll find that the code you write will generally have effects on systems you didn't even know existed.
QFE. This is exactly what I found for the month or so when I started (And I still find from time to time).

I broke quite a lot of code [smile]

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Not bad, kindof what I expected. What struck me was:

"Average
additional
compensation
$17,559"

Is that a year based bonus? Or is that simply traveling cost and other things like that?

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Original post by Driv3MeFar
Quote:
Original post by Dolf
So what should I be thinking of? entry-level salary wise? :)


In 2002, the average for a new programmer was around $49,000 (source).


That varies incredibly from area to area, tho.

Im reading the blog linked by the OP right now, and I strongly disagrees with him.

1) He says you'll need to relocate to the west coast. I say there are good game studios everywhere in the world.

2) Overtime is not worst than other software areas Ive worked, and all game developpers I know have a pretty good social life. Everybody I work with do sport several times a week.

3) He says, and I quote "There is no time for on the job training". I say thats bullcrap. Everyone continuously learns on the job. You *have* to be good to get a job, but no one will expect an entry-level to have the performance or knowledge of an industry veteran. In fact, expect a lot of training in your first months of a new job.

In my opinion, this guy has no idea what hes talking about.

*Good* software engineers / programmers are in high demand right now, in the game industry and others.

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Original post by Steadtler
In my opinion, this guy has no idea what hes talking about.

*Good* software engineers / programmers are in high demand right now, in the game industry and others.


Yeah, it strikes me that this guy has no industry experience, and is just passing on all the rumors and anecdotes that people (who also don't know what they're talking about) spread about the game industry.

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Original post by Driv3MeFar
Quote:
Original post by Dolf
So what should I be thinking of? entry-level salary wise? :)


In 2002, the average for a new programmer was around $49,000 (source).


Those numbers are pretty sound, however, keep in mind that the 49k figure is not a measure of initial salary it is the average of salaries of all survey subjects who responded and had less than 2 years experience. The difference in salary between someone just starting and someone at 2 years is sometimes quite pronounced.


Anecdotally, I've been offered all but one position that I've interviewed for, and in game studios around the Seattle area I've been offered significantly less than that figure, being that I had no industry experience. An average offer, for me, of initial salary was around 36k average, with the highest being 42k and the lowest being the pitiful amount of 27k (which I nearly laughed at, had I had less professional composure). Its fairly common practice to have newbies on an "evaluation" period for 6-12 months, after which their salary is up for renegotiation. Then again, I know a fellow who started at Bungie fresh out of school at 66k, although he had beaten out industry vets for the position.

The numbers are valid, just don't go in expecting nothing less than 49k for an initial salary.

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As ravyne2001 pointed out, the "averages" can be a bit misleading.

I think the majority of the posts in this thread have pointed out pretty clearly that the author of the article is talking out of his ass.

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The article sounds somewhat accurate, but overly generalised.

I've worked at a major developer for the past 2 years and I'd like to address a few points.

1) I often work 70-80 hours a week, but never more than that. I usually crunch more from april - august though with the rest of the year being mostly 40 hour weeks. Different people work different amounts of overtime. There are two main reasons for overtime.

One is that when features change(and they always will), you don't always (i.e. never) have the slack in your schedule to do the work without overtime.

The other is that a feature just takes someone longer than they said it was going to. I find that this happens fairly often. Many times due to managers or more experienced engineers trying to convince other engineers that their original estimates are too high.

2) The number of new graduates in the industry is fairly high, however it differentiates greatly from team to team, and company to company. I think there was only one engineer on my team over 25 years old this year, but I know other teams where the vast majority of engineers were much more experienced (it really depends on the needs of the project). I wouldn't really worry about this at all though. Younger people are interested in video games. There aren't that many 50 year olds that play games (at least not yet), so they would be less inclined to enter the industry. There are only so many qualified applicants. The real trick (if you are qualified that is) is to make sure your resume will get noticed. Work experience is a definate help(internship or coop is good enough. Doesn't need to be game related). Friends in the industry are even better.



Essentially, it's up to you to put in the effort. How much spare time do you want to spend honing your skills? I program games all day for a living and I still have my own research projects going on at home. Working on a game demo would be a really good idea while you're in school.



Some people don't like long hours, but honestly, I get paid a good salary to make video games, and most weeks I still get out 4 or 5 hours to plays sports.

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Oh, and as for the "there aren't many thriving game companies" comment. I would have to agree with this one. It is extremely hard to start up a game company. It's not like the NES days where one or two engineers in a basement could crank out a game in a couple months. Starting up a company requires LOTS of capital, and if your first game is a bust, then the company folds.

With that said, there are lots of companies that have made this jump, but not as many as you would think. It's getting more and more expensive to develop a competing game these days.

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