Sign in to follow this  

Entering the industry at over age 30

This topic is 1104 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

First here is my job background. Currently I work as a web developer with most of my experience in PHP and MySQL, and some in MongoDB. HTML, CSS and JavaScript are also included since that I frequently juggle both front-end and back-end programming. I may not have a CS degree (it's a BFA in electronic visualization) but I have taken a few CS classes and I've exclusively done software engineering jobs since graduating in 2007, so I am not exactly a newcomer to this. In my spare time I have taught myself C++ and C# as well as several APIs and libraries to go with it. I'd like to know if it is still easy for someone with prior programming experience to get into a video game career at an age over 30.

 

My assumption is that many game studios prefer younger employees because they are more willing to take a lower salary. Right now I am 31 years old but in theory I shouldn't be a hard sell to potential employers salary-wise. Many web programmers who haven't yet taken any lead or senior roles (such as myself) tend to fall in the lower end of the programmer salary spectrum anyways, especially in PHP since competition is high there. But I wonder if my age will be a bigger deterrent to getting hired, or if I'm blowing it out of proportion and should just concentrate on building a portfolio. I am not interested in starting my own business/studio, as it will take me away from the more software focused challenges that I prefer more.

Edited by CC Ricers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Speaking as a 31-year-old ex-PHP/SQL engineer who's now a senior engineer working at a very large and successful game developer... being ~30 is in many ways pretty ideal; you're likely to have a lot in common with both the younger engineers and the more experienced folks (and any company that's interviewing you is about as interested in your culture fit as anything else).

Your resume will be your real problem (I'm not sure why anyone thinks people look at engineers' portfolios; ain't nobody got time for that). I'd suggest studying Jason Gregory's book and then practicing making a game in a bigger, production-grade engine (doesn't matter which; just something that has a working content pipeline).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(I'm not sure why anyone thinks people look at engineers' portfolios; ain't nobody got time for that).


Not every company has the same hiring model.

For a counterexample, I rely very heavily on portfolio code samples to screen potential candidates. The main reason I rarely look at them is because most applicants don't have any code samples. This is a Bad Thing™. Be able to show your abilities to program, even if it's just a compact (but well-written) utility or mini-game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking as a 31-year-old ex-PHP/SQL engineer who's now a senior engineer working at a very large and successful game developer... being ~30 is in many ways pretty ideal; you're likely to have a lot in common with both the younger engineers and the more experienced folks (and any company that's interviewing you is about as interested in your culture fit as anything else).

Your resume will be your real problem (I'm not sure why anyone thinks people look at engineers' portfolios; ain't nobody got time for that). I'd suggest studying Jason Gregory's book and then practicing making a game in a bigger, production-grade engine (doesn't matter which; just something that has a working content pipeline).

 

Even with my seven years of experience I'm still not a senior engineer. Looks like I have some catching up to do! :)

 

Is using a pre-made engine these days a bigger selling point than making games with frameworks and API's?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It depends a lot on the kind of job you want to do. If you want a higher-level gameplay type job, using a prefab engine is fine, since that's closer to what your daily routine would be anyways. If you're more interested in lower-level stuff, tech demos are a good way to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forum FAQ. Read it.

 

Life circumstances can make things easier or harder. Whatever your specific circumstances in life happen to be can make it easier or more difficult to get a job in the industry.

 

It looks like the OP is still quite near the middle of the bell curve for game programmers. 

 

New jobs are relatively scarce, demand far outstrips supply in this field. This depresses wages and makes it harder to break in. That's just the nature of this industry. Keep applying, keep improving your skills, be prepared to move (not with a paid corporate relocation package). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice, Frob. Looks like I am just going to continue my projects while I find a different programming job. There's one possibly lined up for me that will take me towards desktop-based software.

 

Glad to know that age isn't a very crucial factor in the industry. Also, as someone who has worked for and has seen three start-up companies implode after a year of working for them, I'm used to salary cuts and preparing for other big company shake-ups.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People tend to end up as "Senior" in the game industry relatively rapidly, in significant part because the industry *bleeds* experienced talent because of work/life balance and quality of life issues.

... and because of low wages relative to other fields, and because of (both intentional and unintentional) age discrimination, both combine with the frequent layoffs to make it progressively harder to stay in the industry as you age.

So when the quarterly layoffs are announced, studios often fire a large number of the more senior developers because they cost more. They are also less likely to rehire the experienced developers thanks to the lower wages. Age discrimination means many studios won't look at your resume when you are "overexperienced".

Then these developers start hunting the job listings and see they can earn 30% more, 50% more, in some cases even double the wage plus big benefits.

I switch in and out between the game industry every few years with contract work. The wage gap is pretty severe for me around age 40. In the games industry my business card said "lead programmer" when I was in my 20s, and many "senior" titles are handed out before age 35. Outside the games industry "senior" doesn't usually enter the job title until age 50 or so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The great thing about software jobs is that it almost always comes down to your skills/availability, instead of age/resume. I've explored some pretty neat places in business development and I'm only 26, so as long as you know what you're doing and can produce results, there's always room to advance.

 

And yeah, I've explored transferring to the game dev career path, but the wage gap is too large. For reference I've been a CTO of a small cap company, and am currently a senior engineer for a mid cap company working directly with it's CTO. Game dev offerings I've received for fairly senior (And high responsibility/availability) roles are roughly 85-110K salary positions, while my business dev job is just about double that.

 

Now, it seems like you mostly do web development, though, so I'm not sure how gamedev web developers are paid. My guess (That's really all it is) is that your best bet would be to expand your C# skills and try to branch out to that instead of web development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've explored transferring to the game dev career path, but the wage gap is too large. For reference I've been a CTO of a small cap company, and am currently a senior engineer for a mid cap company working directly with it's CTO. Game dev offerings I've received for fairly senior (And high responsibility/availability) roles are roughly 85-110K salary positions, while my business dev job is just about double that.

 

It's all relative. I made 45k to 50k in Chicago in my last job as a PHP/MongoDB developer, so even a junior game dev salary would be an improvement. The biggest thing I might have to get used to is the work load during crunch time.

 


Outside the games industry "senior" doesn't usually enter the job title until age 50 or so.

 

 

In two of the web design shops I've worked at, there are some senior programmers / CTOs in their early 30's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


frob, on 28 Nov 2014 - 1:39 PM, said:

Dave Weinstein, on 28 Nov 2014 - 01:31 AM, said:
Outside the games industry "senior" doesn't usually enter the job title until age 50 or so.
 
 
In two of the web design shops I've worked at, there are some senior programmers / CTOs in their early 30's.

 

I find in the web industry people start attaching "senior" to their title around ten years of experience, and that often happens in a person's late 20's or early 30's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Provided you have a half-decent demeanor and can talk about a few games, I'd probably hire you :P

Seriously, what Apoch said is pretty much the norm. On occasions though, what you know isn't enough, but provided you have the right attitude and have played a few games in your life you'll fit just fine. Just expect to learn a lot in the early weeks about how games are made compared to other products and what the definition of "good enough" MAY differ from what you are used to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This topic is 1104 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this