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Skizi

Career choices

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Firstly, I apologize if this is in the wrong forum. After a semester of college and slowly teaching myself C++ I'm trying to figure out what route to go next. I would of course love to have a career in game programming, but I think about how difficult it is to get into this industry. Some of my friends work IT and are already making decent money while going to college. Their field is easy to get into since it's in such a high demand right now. I go to blizzard.com and other huge mainstream game development sites and look at their job listings all the time. They each say 2-5 years programming experience, BA degree. How am I suppose to get this type of experience out of college? Join an indie developer and after 5 years app to blizz? That's kind of a F'ed up thing to do it seems, but I do hear a lot of stories of people doing it.

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I think you're beginning to see what I call the "Skills Merry-go-Round of Doom"©

Essentially, you keep seeing jobs which demand "X years experience in Y"... can't get the job because everyone keeps on asking for skills, can't get the experience, can't progress, still can't get the skills because you can't get the job to enhance your CV, find yourself recursively bouncing back to the beginning.

I'm seeing exactly the same myself and am, to be honest, finding it all a bit overwhelming. I swear I remember a graduate-level job description inviting a fresh-from-University graduate... 3 years of industry experience please, preferably specialising in X. However, I do think it was a one-off badly worded job advert as I haven't seen anything as ridiculous since.

Because of this, I'm trying to arm myself with as much experience as I can muster doing this and that to help myself along, and will probably end up on a graduate training programme after graduating; failing that, a shitty, entry-level job with Company Z which will hopefully allow you to get your foot in the door and keep it there. I'll also reiterate the point that I'm not overly interested in game development at a gameplay and graphics level, I'd be happier building tools, database and netcode/server side code than working on crap like physics and collision detection. I hate doing that kind of stuff and I'm no good at it.

I would personally go for a generic IT job. Game developers are slaves to a saturated market, often working long crunch time hours for pay which is generally perceived as low to produce something which will be old news within about six months if it isn't panned before then and pirated by the masses because they can't be bothered paying. I personally don't want to go down that route, games these days have to be absolutely exceptional or outrageously innovative in order to stand out these days. A generic IT job is usually very secure, you'll probably earn more money and be working more sensible hours for less stress and effort. If you do a college/University course worth its salt then you should be picking up a number of different programming languages and skills such as designing and implementing databases, networking theory and practice, web design, understanding of how computers physically work e.g. operating systems... all of these are highly useful skills in any case so you won't be losing anything either way by doing one or the other.

I'm very torn though; I don't really like the idea of the games industry itself, but I feel like I'd regret not giving it a go. It's something I might do for a few years to start out (if I can get in) and then move on if it doesn't suit. That, to me at least, sounds like a fair and reasonable compromise.

If you want into the games industry, learn and read up everything you can, become a good programmer (not excellent, I'm told the required entry standard is actually rather low) and keep pumping out demos. I'm doing a team project right now for this exact purpose but, unfortunately, XNA forces you to structure your code in a way that makes it look like it's been hit by a bus and then chainsawed, but that's another rant for later.

The above is all my personal opinion and very likely to be flamed and disputed by everyone else, so take of it what you will.

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While I agree it's probably not the easiest of industries to get a first job in, it's not impossible. It all boils down to dedication really, and if you're talented and enthusiastic you WILL get interviews, regardless of what companies say they are looking for.

I think the fact that a lot of companies fail to advertise junior positions is just another way of ensuring that any applications they do get for these positions are from people that are truly interested.

Just my thoughts anyways, take from it what you will.

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Firstly, checking Blizzard's site is a bad place to start IMO. High profile devs like Blizzard can afford to be very picky about who they hire, so they won't hire people without experience. Smaller devs (and EA) are more likely to provide you with a job straight out of university.

Secondly, many companies don't advertise junior level jobs as they don't need to - they get more than enough applicants without. You can try to applying to various places (you will probably get a lot of rejects though). If you have a really hot demo or similar that helps a lot, after all the whole portal team was hired en masse straight from uni based on the strength of their demo.

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Just remember, job postings are what the ideal candidate would be/have. In the end though a position needs to be filled, work needs to get done and companies will take what they can get.

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Quote:
Original post by Jerax
Firstly, checking Blizzard's site is a bad place to start IMO. High profile devs like Blizzard can afford to be very picky about who they hire, so they won't hire people without experience.


Blizzard's job adverts are quite well written.

Quote:
They each say 2-5 years programming experience, BA degree. How am I suppose to get this type of experience out of college?


Few employers these days will offer career development, even less so in commercial sector. That's the topic that's left to you. Employers need you to earn money, with least expenses.

Bailing between employers is one way to develop a career. It's usually preferred, but you will find yourself not in control of your career. You may find yourself in a position you never imagined (good or bad).

Doing something on your own, and getting noticed (not looking at job boards, but getting offered jobs), is another. While it may leave you on your own for a long time, it may get you your dream job. Or you may end up with your own, successful company. Or broke.

And there's many more.

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Building that resume is the first thing, out of many things, you can do to help improve your chances for interviews and job positions. That statement will hold true for any field you ever try and get a job in. On top of that, having demos and what not to further express your skill set will start to come into play. The big thing which you do want to get across with your resume is that you can communicate, in a clear way, information about yourself to the employer. If you fail to do that you are preventing your talent from ever being seen.

You do have to start somewhere though and, like others have said, a high profile developer like Blizzard is not always your ideal company to be shooting for fresh out of school. It is possible but you REALLY have to stick out. If that is your ideal company you want to work for... set goals over a period of time that will get you to that position. Push yourself always and you are bound to get far. (Oh yeah... don't knock someone up along the way, that will be a MAJOR roadblock!)

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A lot of companies don't advertise no experience/graduate jobs because they tend to get applications for these despite not being listed. When I was applying, I sent CVs off to companies even if there was no role advertised.

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