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Zukias

Game programming vs. other programming occupations in the UK?

6 posts in this topic

I am wondering which career path to choose, I'd preferably like a job which will involve lots of math & developing algorithms, game programming certainly has that, but I am worried about job hours and being taken advantage of, worried that companies may see me as a typical graduate fresh in the industry and will make me work 10 hours a day for much lower pay than other programming jobs, as I hear happens a lot in America, but I really have no idea what it's like here in the UK. Is it much different here? I am motivated and am willing to work hard, but not like that.

Also any info on the approximate salary of game programmers compared to other programmers would be helpful. smile.png

 

P.S. I've read lots of articles comparing software programming vs. game programming but it's always America or some other country. But the UK has different laws & regulations, i.e I can't imagine making a graduate work 12 hours a day with unpaid overtime would even be legal here.

Edited by Zukias
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For the extreme work hours, remember that only the outliers make the news. Most jobs are fairly normal work hours. Personally I worked longer hours and more weekends when I was doing database work outside the industry than I ever have while inside the industry. I sometimes work late and might rarely come in on a Saturday, but it isn't the norm and I would start looking for a new company the moment my employer began demanding it of me.
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Working in the games industry in the UK there was always a lot of competition for jobs and the jobs are also thin on the ground (you have to be able to relocate).

Even working in a small games company I had to do crunch.  Some of my friends who still work in games tell me that this has got worse not better.  A couple of my friends who was working at Eurocom last year was having to do an extra 17 hours a week unpaid (his reward was being put out of a job at christmas).

Working outside the games industry is different because there is som much variety.  Being a database programmer isn't the same as writing video editing software which is also different to writing iOS applications.   I now find jobs outside the games industry are much easier to come by.  I get around 30 recruiters contact me per day and around 10 direct employment requests from other companies.  I also have never had to work late or done a weekend.  This isn't always the case I do know people who work at Bloomberg who work every single weekend, however they do take home over £100000 per year.

 

The big thing everybody mentions is the salaries.  The company I work at now hires graduates strieght out of university for £35000 per year.  There is not a single games company in the UK that will pay that much to a grad.  My salary in the games industry was £24000 one of my friends who has been in the games industry for 9 years and is a studio lead working on a big AAA title only takes home £40000 per year.  My own salary is now approaching the 6 figure mark.

 

 

Also working outside the industry does not mean I never work on games.  Working as a programmer for an Ad agency for example offers very varied work.  One month you may be developing a sales website and then the next you may get to write an iPad game.  Working for gambling companies is also very good because they have a lot of crossover into games but don't suffer the same low salaries or working conditions.

 

 

It does sound like I am rubishing the games industry but, I am not.  From outside looking in it seems really bad that you have to work late and you get a poor salary but whilst you are doing it, it is amazing to work with so many talented people.  The only reason why I no longer work in the games industry is that I got made redundant becuse of studio closure and had to take a non games job to pay the bills.  After a little time I got used to the higher pay and now it would be financialy impossible for me to go back into games.

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Working in the games industry in the UK there was always a lot of competition for jobs and the jobs are also thin on the ground (you have to be able to relocate).

Even working in a small games company I had to do crunch.  Some of my friends who still work in games tell me that this has got worse not better.  A couple of my friends who was working at Eurocom last year was having to do an extra 17 hours a week unpaid (his reward was being put out of a job at christmas).

Working outside the games industry is different because there is som much variety.  Being a database programmer isn't the same as writing video editing software which is also different to writing iOS applications.   I now find jobs outside the games industry are much easier to come by.  I get around 30 recruiters contact me per day and around 10 direct employment requests from other companies.  I also have never had to work late or done a weekend.  This isn't always the case I do know people who work at Bloomberg who work every single weekend, however they do take home over £100000 per year.

 

The big thing everybody mentions is the salaries.  The company I work at now hires graduates strieght out of university for £35000 per year.  There is not a single games company in the UK that will pay that much to a grad.  My salary in the games industry was £24000 one of my friends who has been in the games industry for 9 years and is a studio lead working on a big AAA title only takes home £40000 per year.  My own salary is now approaching the 6 figure mark.

 

 

Also working outside the industry does not mean I never work on games.  Working as a programmer for an Ad agency for example offers very varied work.  One month you may be developing a sales website and then the next you may get to write an iPad game.  Working for gambling companies is also very good because they have a lot of crossover into games but don't suffer the same low salaries or working conditions.

 

 

It does sound like I am rubishing the games industry but, I am not.  From outside looking in it seems really bad that you have to work late and you get a poor salary but whilst you are doing it, it is amazing to work with so many talented people.  The only reason why I no longer work in the games industry is that I got made redundant becuse of studio closure and had to take a non games job to pay the bills.  After a little time I got used to the higher pay and now it would be financialy impossible for me to go back into games.

 

First, thanks for taking the time for such an informative reply smile.png

 

The impression I get at the moment is people who work in the games industry must have a true passion for making games, which I worry isn't really there for me. I do like making games, it's great fun, but professionally, for considerably less pay than other programming jobs makes me think twice. And I'm not willing to submit my life to games programming like some people (employers @ bloomberg, blizzard) seem to. I want to have 'a life' (for lack of a better phrase tongue.png ). I think I may just stick to being a hobbyist games programmer for now and drop the expectation of doing it professionally any time in the foreseeable future.

Edited by Zukias
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Don't let my comments disuade you.  I'm sure there are many others on here who have had the exact opposite experience.   Also there is the old saying: "Nothing ventured.  Nothing gained".  If you think you can actually get a job in the games industry then give it a try.

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Call me cynical, but to make money in the game industry it appears that you're either an indie and get lucky, or you run a studio, pay those sorts of low wages, and get lucky with a more complex title.  This seems in line with the risk/reward.  To be able to afford to hire someone and provide a stable income to them, the company owner assumes a lot of risk (especially in game dev which is so hit-driven) and to some extent shields the employee from that risk.  Subsequently, the reward is generally skewed towards the person who has their cash on the line.  Typically the employee risks losing their job (not great, but you can always get another job) whereas the business owner risks their invested capital. It sucks, but that's how it works.

 

I think finance (esp if you're a mathematically inclined, capable of becoming a quant) is usually the best paid, and from what I've seen, the hours aren't as bad as game development can be.  "Crunch" doesn't really exist- although the core hours can be longer than non-finance tech jobs.  The flip side is that the work is not that interesting compared to how working on a game can be.  

 

Regarding UK and labour laws, it's pretty easy to get someone to agree to waive the 50 hour work week. It's voluntary, ofc, but try get away with fewer hours than your colleagues and you'll know it's never easy and seldom works out well for you in the long term.

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Regarding UK and labour laws, it's pretty easy to get someone to agree to waive the 50 hour work week. It's voluntary, ofc, but try get away with fewer hours than your colleagues and you'll know it's never easy and seldom works out well for you in the long term.

Also the games industry in the UK is a very close nit comunity, everybody knows somebody who knows somebody.  If you refuse to work crunch it'll come back to bite you later in your career.

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