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Game development jobs outside of the west coast?

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I am currently a Junior majoring in Computer Science, and I have a fairly simple question. If I wanted to be a professional game developer, am I likely to have to be on the west coast to do so? The majority of the game jobs and companies I see are located on the west coast, which is pretty far away from me. For a few reasons, I don't want to(my fiance nor I want to be that far away from our families in Chicago) or can't(silly, but I have a pet parrot that is illegal in California lol) move out to the west coast. Without the option to move to the west coast, is my chances of finding a professional game development job slim to none or still viable? I love games, love gaming, and I like making them too, and I'm wondering if this is something I should actively pursue or is simply out of reach and focus more on a non-game programming job. Thanks a lot!

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Other lesser "hotbeds" are:

Austin
Chicago
Montreal
Madison, Wisconsin
Redmond, Washington
Vancouver

That about covers it; though there are stray micro-studios in other places.

But really, if you want to get into entertainment stuff (games or otherwise) and have the best probability of getting a job, move to the west coast. All the major studios (where incidentally straight-out-of-college hires are most likely to happen) are based on the west coast: Electronic Arts, THQ, Activision, Blizzard, Microsoft.

Wanting to get into tech (even non-game programming) and wanting to stay on the east coast are goals which are kind of at odds with each other. It's like wanting to get into the auto-industry but not wanting to live in the mid-west [smile]. It's by no means impossible but it'll drastically reduce your job options (which in this economy is kind of a big deal)

-me

[Edited by - Palidine on March 17, 2009 1:28:01 PM]

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Palidine is correct: there are way more opportunities on the West Coast (Bay area, LA area, Seattle area) than anywhere else in the US.

As mentioned above, Austin is actually a very stable and growing center for game developers.

To see all of your options:
http://gamedevmap.com/

Good luck.

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Montreal might be your best bet. Ubisoft is usually hiring, and it's not too far (about 800 miles to drive). You might luck out and find something around Toronto, but last I heard they weren't hiring that much.

That being said, with all the lay-offs happening now, there may be quite a few new companies starting up closer to home by the time you're done school.

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