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jwezorek

Getting a game dev job via a history of regular software jobs

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Hey, guys, ... I recently got laid off from a programming job I have been working for the last year. Basically it was for a research group in the general domain computational biology. I was working for a company that was owned by another company and the parent company decided to just kill the whole project last week, so me and about 30 other people got laid off. Anyway, I'm on the market.

When I'm looking for jobs I always think about getting into games, particularly casual games, because I'm always working on casual games on the side anyway. I live in Seattle; there are several major casual games studios around, but I historically haven't had luck getting them to notice me. I think the problem is basically that I am a senior level software engineer for a non-games related C++ job (My resume can be found on the "about" page of my blog) but in the domain of game development I would be junior level given that I've never worked a game dev job professionally. Not sure how to approach this ...

In terms of portfolio. I have an abstract puzzle game written to DirectX that is playable and somewhat polished (although unpolished in other ways e.g. no sound) up for download right now, and will have a prototype of another one up for download as soon as I get around to posting it, i.e. soon. But I probably need more, right?

But, I don't know, what kind of background do you need to get a "tools" job? Maybe that would be a good avenue for me? -- because I have a lot of experience writing desktop apps and so forth.

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Yes, you need a stronger portfolio. And you need to start researching companies in your area and networking.
Why don't you head down to San Francisco and check out GDC next week? Would be a real eye-opener.

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You simply apply to jobs. There are lots of kinds of jobs. A portfolio is nice and can help a lot, but not absolutely essential.

Not sure what you did in computational biology.

If you relied on databases and SQL, the games industry needs that. There are lots of online games that need substantial database work.
If you spent your time writing simulators, the games industry needs that. Games are just simulations of something, that is a good part of engine work.
If you spent your time doing something else, there is probably some company in the industry that needs it. Games are just software, and good software developers are valuable.

You probably have picked up work experience that may make you much more valuable than an entry level college grad. Leverage that.

As Tom mentioned, if you are serious about this go to GDC and bring a bunch of cards with your name, your interests, and contact info. Give those cards to EVERY recruiter you meet, and make a big effort to talk to lots of them. Make sure you get a card from every recruiter and follow up by contacting them the following week with an email saying "I met you at GDC, here is my resume".

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Unfortunately, I don't think I can make it to GDC.

My immediate background is mostly C++ in a research / scientific computing environment, before that I did Windows application programming in C++ (back when people still did that). Don't really have a niche, other than at this point I've done a lot of image processing and have had several jobs that were focused on algorithm development and optimization.

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I would personally prefer to hire from outside traditional games market if possible, particularly for social. Some console guys have... baggage.

Just apply places. Learn rails or something, stick a polished html5 game on heroku - the free package is fine for demo.

Good luck!

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I would personally prefer to hire from outside traditional games market if possible, particularly for social. Some console guys have... baggage.


I'll agree with this. In my experience there is a lot of fanboyism in hardcode game developers.

Put some work in to your portfolio and you shouldn't have that much of trouble finding a job. It doesn't have to be just junior level positions either. Business software isn't that much different from games when you get right down to it. You are just taking a set of inputs and creating an output for it.

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