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I am too old to become a game programmer?

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Hi, I am a software developer and I focus on database applications, however, I'm getting tired of programming in a field that I don't like very much. When I was in university I did some mini 2d games on my delphi course and I remember I was really exited programming those games, I felt like I could go on and on and on. However, when I graduated I had to work for some years doing database applications to pay a lot of debts. Right now I feel like I wasting my potential in that area. I looked into the game institute website and their courses seem very interesting and fun. Next year on january I'll be 32 years old and I'll have enough money to take their Foundation Studies Package, however I don't know about videogame companies and their policies. Do they hire only young programmers or age doesn't matter for them as long as you can be an efficient programmer?

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Why would age be any factor whatsoever in hiring? My company is generally younger guys, but we've got a few old farts [wink]. Finding good programmers is difficult enough, why would anyone want to limit their potential pool of employees by judging them due to their age?

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Dont worry, youll be fine. For example, Martin O'Donnell from bungie is older from 32 and hes legendary in the music department. Anyways, the only time they really hire by age is when they hire game testers.

I wish you luck!

Avery

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To quote superpig: "It's only too late once you're dead."

I think a lot of people worry about being too old to do game programming whereas I think a lot of people should be worrying if they are too young to start game programming [wink]

Here's my perspective on the advantages of starting in different age brackets go as follows:

Teenager - Something productive to do. Rather than waste time playing video games, you are investing in your future. However, with such a young age comes a great immaturity and lack of experience of the world. If you do get good at what you do, you might consider forgoing school to program and commit the biggest mistake of your life by not going to school.

20's - Life is just getting started. For a large number it's time to do college or just finish up college towards mid 20's. You have more time to work on your projects rather than teenagers, but if you are in school you have to focus on school and if you don't have school you have to worry about 'work' to pay bills. People who go through school usually end up leaving heavily in debt and must concentrate on what will pay the bills. For those that have kids or get married, those are serious setbacks if you wanted to start game development.

30's - I think this age group is still young. Way more mature than most of the people in the 20's group, has a good idea of how life really is with responsibility and more 'mature'. By now, you should have worked quite a bit, possibly have a nice savings going and can pursue your dreams. A steady job can help fund your endeavors, but you still have to worry about bills, kids, spouse, family, so depending on your circumstances, this may be an ideal time. Of course there are studies that show the older you get the harder it is to learn some things, but that is going to vary person by person.

40's + - Hard for me to accurately speculate at this age, but looking at my parents, a lot of people have kids by now and they are most likely going to college soon, which is quite a drain. Getting started in gaming might be harder if you want it to be a primary job, but as a hobby, it might be hard to do well in if your 'day job' drains you every day of the week. At this stage in life though, I've seen a lot of people want change and try something new, so it just might be the thing someone needs if that is what they want to pursue.

Now most of that is speculative, but that's how I see it. I think it really gets down to a matter of motivation and passion no matter what age you are, barring any external circumstances that would hinder your progress. If you can dedicate so much time to it consistently, then you should be able to give it a fair shot.

Remember though, game programming is usually not a one man show kind of deal. You will mostly be working as part of a team (probably very small for starters), so there is more to it than just being able to do the work, as with any other job. Experience, character, and attitude play an important part in getting hired for a company. At 30's, you can still be a resource to the company for a while, so it's not wasted resources training you. Of course companies cannot discriminate about age solely, but some places might want people in the mid-20s to mid 30s for 'stability purposes'.

Some past topics on this issue:
Is 35 too old to start into games programming?
Am I too old?
Am I to old to start?

And an important topic to look over:
Hi there! What's your story?.

Good luck! [smile]

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I personally work with a 30+ former web/flash programmer who up until a year ago knew nothing about programming games and is now working on a downloadable title for a fairly popular console.

Do you know C#? If so there's now a pretty easy good way to get into the industry.
1. Make a simple complete game with XNA.

The important thing here is to pick something small and achievable, and really complete it. When in doubt over what to do, pick the easier idea, and if it turns out to be too easy, then do the same for the harder one. Once you've done that, dabble a bit in the mainstay language of the industry, C++; again, something simple, maybe a few small demos of different things (particles, animation, etc.).

If you can't get a job with all that in your portfolio, I'll give you a reference here :)

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Quote:
Original post by zer0wolf
Why would age be any factor whatsoever in hiring? My company is generally younger guys, but we've got a few old farts [wink]. Finding good programmers is difficult enough, why would anyone want to limit their potential pool of employees by judging them due to their age?


Not saying it's a good idea, but I know of a few companies out in California that discriminated by age. Young programmers tend to be naive, unmarried, and cheap. The perfect sort to death march something out the door.

I've also seen places where (relatively) young managers hire young to avoid challenges to their authority.


Anyways, that's secondary to the OP. Companies are varied. You'll be able to find companies that don't favor the young (and almost assuredly ones that want developers with non-gamedev background). Though I recommend taking a second look at migration. Programming is programming (by and large). If you're unhappy doing it, things don't really change so much as to go from unhappy to thrilled just by changing the product.

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No, you're most definitely not too old. If there even is such a thing as too old, then you're at least a couple of decades away from it.

I work for a games developer, and our programmers range from their early twenties for the junior programmers, to forties/fifties for some of the older programmers. There are six people on my team, and it's split 50/50 between people in their mid twenties, and people in their mid thirties.

If you're talented, then I don't think age is an issue at all.

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You are far from too old. You should see your experience in a tech field as an asset.

Also, I've been doing game institute courses, and can say they are worth the money (as long as you get involved in the forum and ask loads of questions). The tests are always motivating, and the audio slides are very helpful when you just aren't in the mood to read. My only minor complaints are that some of the info is a little outdated, and there could be more focus on OO design in the C++ modules. Anyway... just thought I'd share that.

Best of luck!

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Yes, programming in general is for kids only, specially now with stuff like .NET where you just have to click and click and you don't need particular skills
That's why programming is very bad paid (in particular in Europe) and is at the bottom of the hierarchy.

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Quote:
Original post by george135
Yes, programming in general is for kids only, specially now with stuff like .NET where you just have to click and click and you don't need particular skills
That's why programming is very bad paid (in particular in Europe) and is at the bottom of the hierarchy.


Nice troll, but too obvious.

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I would hope not!

I went to school to be a games programmer, and it went crazy good. Alas I knocked up one of the few geek chicks that were in my class and had to go for the solid money first.

15 years later, I still want to make and release a game(s). But I also have the record of 15 years in the trenches of coding many assorted projects large and small. I, just now, only think I can make a full complete "fun" game that is meant for others... I'm 35 now.

I thought I could make games when I was 15 too. But looking back at my code 20 years ago, I would have smacked myself plenty for not thinking about so many things when I created my games. Commenting, readability, source control, extendability, variable naming, packaging, performance, robustness... etc.


Well, I don't think it's too old.

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