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Did You Break in at an Older Age?

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I posted yesterday regarding a similar topic (input on taking or rejecting an internship) and greatly appreciate the feedback.

 

Do you have any stories of your own or of others you know who broke into the game dev industry later than usual (> 25-30+ years old or so)?

 

I'm 32 (wife, kids, less free time, various interests including game dev) and was recently offered an internship at a local game dev company.

 

I'd love to hear your experience or of someone you know that got in late. Thanks.

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I should say I'm not a game programmer professionally, I write business software, but I got the gig purely as a result of a portfolio of hobby games writing I had been doing for twenty years or so and did my first day as a professional programmer at the ripe old age of 37.

Worked unrelated jobs (sales, business development, employment consultancy) for all my previous life, all while writing games for fun in my spare time and hanging around this website.

It can be done, you just have to get lucky with a gig. My current boss and colleagues are all also self-taught, passionate programmers which helps a lot. I doubt I would have got a job with a large company without a qualification or relevant experience.

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I was around 32 when I "broke in" to games and around "37" when I broke out.  I do still occasionally work on the odd game freelance or write the odd iPhone game but it really isn't worth it as a full time career.

I didn't have a wife, kids or house but the pay and hours still weren't worth staying in the games industry.  I was warned against working in games by tons of other people but, I ignored them and insisted that working games was my dream job and wouldn't want to do anything else.

 

Breaking in was easy.  I just got a degree, applied to a few companies, interviewed at some of them and got around half a dozen offers.

 

Breaking out was harder.  A lot of the recruiters for non games programming positions wouldn't actually forward my details on.  I got comments like "you know this is a serious programming job right? not just playing around".  I even got one recruiter for a C++ job tell me that he didn't realise that they used programming to make games, he thought they were all made using some kind of Flash like authoring tool.  It panned out in the end though.

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I even got one recruiter for a C++ job tell me that he didn't realise that they used programming to make games, he thought they were all made using some kind of Flash like authoring tool.

 

That... that cannot be a CS graduated person who interviewed you.

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I even got one recruiter for a C++ job tell me that he didn't realise that they used programming to make games, he thought they were all made using some kind of Flash like authoring tool.

 

That... that cannot be a CS graduated person who interviewed you.

 

 

It wasn't an interview is was a job that was being advertised doing 3d visualisations in OpenGL for a large oil and gas company but, to apply you had to apply through their preferred recruitment agency.  The guy at the agency saw that my previous experience was in games and came up with this BS.  He refused to even send my details on to the company.

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Usually that’s around the age you leave the game industry, but maybe the spark will last a while longer for you if you are new to it.
In any case there is no reason you can’t break in at that age.


L. Spiro

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I started professionally in the video games industry at 25, and as a producer at 26. Before that I was in retail.

That being said, video game development has been a hobby of mine ever since back when I was a kid (at 9 I wrote my first game program, and around 7 my first 'GDD' if you can even call it that).

 

I've seen more correlation between being a good industry developer and the age at which this started being a hobby than when it started being a job to be honest.

For example, people come fresh out of school can either be great or bad, and if you dig deeper, you often realize there always was (or not) an underlying interest of some kind and it makes the difference).

To a lesser degree, I've seen a few success stories of people coming late to the industry, but those with a passion managed to come in. It's a tough challenge because there's a lot to learn, and it's a bit harder to learn in our 30s (I feel old) but it's not impossible.

Then again, I've seen a lot of people 'try' to move to games without passion and saw them shredded by the industry in but a few weeks/months in many occurrences.

 

The most unsuccessful transitions I've seen were due in part to bad judgment on the HR part where they assumed that a 'good manager' in one field can manage 'any field' and I can certainly attest to the contrary in Video Games. On more than one occasion I've seen IT project managers feeling estranged beyond means in the video game world.

 

Now, granted, you've been offered a much smoother (and more sane) entry position which may result in a more desirably outcome, but I think the underlying question prevails: is your passion for game sufficient to turn it into a job, or in other words, do you feel you understand and like games enough that spending entire days deciphering their issues won't turn you away from playing games on your own time when the day's over? 

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