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Dolf

Game Industry

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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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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.

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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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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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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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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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