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Vernex

Game Programmer... realistic career?

12 posts in this topic

Hey guys, I've been hearing some negative talk from some people about the game industry. They claim it's sooo difficult to get into that you might as well not even try. Is it really so hard to get into? I know it's what I want to do as a career in my life, I have a passion for it. What are my chances of making it into the industry as a game programmer, would I have to be lucky or just work hard? And beyond that what are my chances of working for one of the big company's like EA or Blizzard Entertainment?

Thanks.
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[quote name='Vernex' timestamp='1295922139' post='4764270']
They claim it's sooo difficult to get into that you might as well not even try. Is it really so hard to get into?[/quote]With that attitude you won't get anywhere.
It's a small industry compared to programming in general, but at least that means you've always got a back-up plan (if you can't find a games job, you can work for another type of business).[quote]I know it's what I want to do as a career in my life, I have a passion for it.[/quote]Then you'll be fine.
As long as you've got talent (and passion is a great tool for developing talent) then you can find a job.

If you continue to develop your talent ([i]never stop to think that you're good enough of a software engineer, keep learning!![/i]) then there's no reason that the big players wouldn't want to hire you eventually. That said, I'd never work at EA after seeing the work conditions my friends had to put up with there :P

When my first games job went bust, I did have to fall back on my programming degree and go work for a business that I didn't care about for a while. When I got fed up with that job and resigned, it took me 5 months to find a games programming job again.
Then, when that games company went bankrupt, it only took me one month to find another games company to work for.

It's very possible to do as a career, but keep in mind that chances are you will be laid off at least once (due to companies collapsing, etc) during your career, and you may have to deal with unemployment and/or non-games jobs as well.
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[quote name='Hodgman' timestamp='1295923306' post='4764275']
Then, when that games company went bankrupt
[/quote]

Why didn't you do a better job and try to keep them afloat? The industry is filled with failed startups because of employees with attitudes like yours.
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[color=#1C2837][size=2][quote]Where's my rate-- button gone for flagging arrogant sophomoric trolls?[/quote][/size][/color]
[color=#1C2837][size=2]Seconded. Really, where's the logic behind that conjecture...[/size][/color]
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[quote name='Vernex' timestamp='1295922139' post='4764270']
Hey guys, I've been hearing some negative talk from some people about the game industry. They claim it's sooo difficult to get into that you might as well not even try. Is it really so hard to get into?
[/quote]

Not that hard, no.

[quote]
I know it's what I want to do as a career in my life, I have a passion for it.
[/quote]

You and many thousands of others. The competition is what makes getting the gigs hard. Companies can pick and choose.

[quote]
What are my chances of making it into the industry as a game programmer, would I have to be lucky or just work hard?
[/quote]

Who knows? Certainly none of us based on what we know of you. Luck can factor into it. Being at the right place at the right time, having your demo be just what the company is looking for... Working hard comes into it, but less than you'd think. Hard work can't make up for skill in software development. [i]Tenacity[/i] on the other hand is very important. Fighting through the competition, keeping at different job openings until you get your foot in the door. And Hodgman's account is noteworthy. Even at the best companies, you will often have crunch times. Having the tenacity to work through and produce is important.

Social skills are important too. Networking is an important part of getting a job, and especially in high competition areas, it's often who you know that wins... not necessarily what you know.

That said, if you can't produce, it's hard to get hired. And once hired, it's neigh impossible to keep the job. When companies can pick and choose who they hire, they will more often than not go for the best of the best.

So we can't say for sure if it's realistic for you. All the luck and hard work in the world won't help if you're a terrible programmer.
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[quote name='Vernex' timestamp='1295922139' post='4764270']
1. Hey guys, I've been hearing some negative talk from some people about the game industry. They claim it's sooo difficult to get into that you might as well not even try. Is it really so hard to get into?
2. I know it's what I want to do as a career in my life, I have a passion for it.
3. What are my chances of making it into the industry as a game programmer, would I have to be lucky or just work hard?
4. And beyond that what are my chances of working for one of the big company's like EA or Blizzard Entertainment?[/quote]
1. Yes.
2. Then you should go for it!
3. Yes.
4. Not that great.
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[quote name='Hodgman' timestamp='1295926774' post='4764294']
[quote name='sooner123' timestamp='1295925741' post='4764286']
[quote name='Hodgman' timestamp='1295923306' post='4764275']
Then, when that games company went bankrupt[/quote]Why didn't you do a better job and try to keep them afloat? The industry is filled with failed startups because of employees with attitudes like yours.[/quote]What the hell? What do you know about my attitude towards that company? Do you make a habit of criticising aspects of the lives of complete strangers which you know absolutely nothing about?

Everyone in that studio worked their butts off for a year trying to keep the company afloat. Everyone did months of unpaid overtime, myself included, without caring that it wasn't compensated; we just wanted to ship something cool. In the end, the owner funnelled all the money into an off-shore company and liquidated the studio without paying the bills (which included our owed salaries).

As I said above, if you go into games as a carreer, you are going to get laid off at one point or another... Or you might just be on project-based contracts, like the film industry, where you're automatically out of work once your game ships. After having hundreds of colleagues lose their jobs over the years in cut-backs/redundancies/collapses, I'm simply being matter of fact about the reality of this industry.

Now, where's my rate-- button gone for flagging arrogant sophomoric trolls?
[/quote]

It's just like people who won't vote for third parties because they feel it's a wasted vote. It's THAT very mentality that causes said votes to be a waste. Just like people who start sending out resumes at the first sign of trouble are a big part of the reason for failure of startup companies. It's not the only problem in the industry. I wouldn't even say it's the biggest. But it's a big one. Low capital startups can't work without everyone being fully on board. If you had really put your heart and soul into that venture, you can't claim they would have sunk like they did. Aren't you one of the best most valuable programmers in the universe? Get my point yet?

I hope I made myself more clear than in my first post. And if you choose to react in rage again like you did the first time you replied to the first post I made in this thread, then please, try to keep it civil. We've got a great discourse going here. And I want to be a part of it. And I want you to be a part of it too. (Civil though. Not mean)
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[quote][color=#1C2837][size=2]It's just like people who won't vote for third parties because they feel it's a wasted vote. It's THAT very mentality that causes said votes to be a waste. Just like people who start sending out resumes at the first sign of trouble are a big part of the reason for failure of startup companies. It's not the only problem in the industry. I wouldn't even say it's the biggest. But it's a big one. Low capital startups can't work without everyone being fully on board. If you had really put your heart and soul into that venture, you can't claim they would have sunk like they did. Aren't you one of the best most valuable programmers in the universe? Get my point yet?

I hope I made myself more clear than in my first post. And if you choose to react in rage again like you did the first time you replied to the first post I made in this thread, then please, try to keep it civil. We've got a great discourse going here. And I want to be a part of it. And I want you to be a part of it too. (Civil though. Not mean) [/size][/color][/quote]

Wow, you're a total douche, aren't you.
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[quote name='sooner123' timestamp='1295992014' post='4764699']
It's THAT very mentality that causes said votes to be a waste.
[/quote]

No... I'm pretty sure that (for most people) all the faith in the world doesn't make anyone [b]else [/b]vote for them. I'd be president then.

Likewise, all the heart and soul in a company doesn't make it any better run; doesn't make the business model any better; doesn't [b]make[/b] people buy your game.

The world is full of failed startups because they're risky, and often started by people under qualified who underestimate the costs involved or the profits available. Not because people didn't try hard enough.
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[quote name='sooner123' timestamp='1295992014' post='4764699']
...... And if you choose to react in rage again like you did the first time you replied to the first post I made in this thread, then please, try to keep it civil. [/quote]
Your first post was both rude and unfounded given that you had no knowledge of the company in question or Hodgman's attitude while working there. If you wish to comment on start-ups (or anything else) do so without stooping to unnecessary and unfounded attacks on other posters.

Warning issued.
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[quote name='Obscure' timestamp='1296009805' post='4764853']
[quote name='sooner123' timestamp='1295992014' post='4764699']
...... And if you choose to react in rage again like you did the first time you replied to the first post I made in this thread, then please, try to keep it civil. [/quote]
Your first post was both rude and unfounded given that you had no knowledge of the company in question or Hodgman's attitude while working there. If you wish to comment on start-ups (or anything else) do so without stooping to unnecessary and unfounded attacks on other posters.

Warning issued.
[/quote]

I'm sorry if that's how my post was taken. But I was expressing a legitimate concern.

I see a major component of the risk of a startup being that you don't know the quality of the people you hire first hand until things are working out or it's too late.

Even if this fellow feels slighted by my comment, he very well may fall into the category that I stated he fell into.

Whatever it was, it wasn't a personal attack. Just a statement of one of the hazards of the business.

As I said, I'm sure he's a great programmer and a great guy.
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[quote name='sooner123' timestamp='1296060990' post='4765124']
I'm sorry if that's how my post was taken. But I was expressing a legitimate concern.[/quote]Expressing that concern by... telling a stranger that their attitude and lack of effort caused the failure of a company. That's not a very civil way to join a discussion and it demonstrates an attitude problem you need to address.[quote]Even if this fellow feels slighted by my comment, he very well may fall into the category that I stated he fell into. As I said, I'm sure he's a great programmer and a great guy.[/quote]I may infact be lazy and disloyal, but I'm a great guy... What are you smoking?[quote name='sooner123' timestamp='1295992014' post='4764699']
If you had really put your heart and soul into that venture, you can't claim they would have sunk like they did. Aren't you one of the best most valuable programmers in the universe? Get my point yet?[/quote]No I don't get your point, sorry, and that's quite an ignorant thing to say. Again, you're making assumptions about my effort and then blaming that assumed lack of effort for the failure of a company... I don't know what to say...

Sorry to make some assumptions of my own, but from what you've posted, it seems fairly clear that you're a student with no industry experience, or real knowledge of how the games industry functions.
You can put 50 talented, motivated and loyal programmers, artists, designers and producers into a room - you can have them pour their hearts and souls into a product - but that doesn't mean you're operating a business in the black. All of that genius constrained by one bad business manager can still result in the failure of a company. To put that in perspective, 50 staff on an average of $80k p/a is an overhead of $11,000 per day -- business concerns have a huge impact on development.
And FYI, I'm not talking about the failure some little student start-up company here, I'm talking about the collapse of a multi-office, 400-staff veteran development company.[quote]I see a major component of the risk of a startup being that you don't know the quality of the people you hire first hand until things are working out or it's too late.[/quote]Then you've probably never been involved in a start-up company then... One of the things that you'd be including in your pitch submission is the experience and resumes of all the staff involved in the project. IME, either you hire people with proven records, people you've worked with first-hand, or you hire unproven people and pay them peanuts. The risk assessment part of your submission would've set off alarm bells if your core employees were unproven.
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