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Syrena

What's My Outlook for a Video Game Job Given My Situation?

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I found this gamedev post and reading through it made me a little uneasy about my current situation.

 

A little background: I graduated college 3 years now, and I to be quite honest, that school wasted my time/money. While they taught the basics, that's all they taught. Topics such as multi threading/generics/design patterns were not given the time they deserve. For example, I only learned the concept of immutable classes though Google searching, and just recently I only learned the visitor pattern through asking on SO, and applying it to my text adventure game. I've tried several times to make an honest attempt at learning multi threading, but its just too hard for me. I'm going to be overshadowed by any computer science student with a B.A, as I only have a college diploma, and it simply won't cut it. If an employer were to ask "Why should I hire you, when I could hire a university student with a degree?" I've got no good answer for that, and I don't believe there is one. 

 

Long story short: I can't attend university, the problem is I don't have the required math classes, and to acquire them would mean going to adult HS classes at night. You see the problem is, because the school left out so much, when they transferred students to university, they struggled because they entered university in the 3rd year. My plan was to start at the first year, regardless of what I did in college, because I wanted to make sure I got a full understanding of what I've missed.   

 

As of today, I only trust official documentation, and well written textbooks. I've decided to make an honest effort, and build my own text adventure game in Java. I've got a good understanding of classes(abstract, immutable), interfaces, and methods. Now I get it, a text adventure is nothing compared to what someone could do with Unity, however, that would mean I have to create my own assets, and it won't be as appealing.

 

There is a studio near where I live that asked for Game Designer, and the programming part was a "nice to have" but not necessary. It was more on the creative side of development, rather than technical. I understand too, it might be hard to answer weather a personal project counts for something. Several posts I've read suggests it's mixed, some companies will, and some won't.

 

Right now, I'm trying to find a job so that gap on my resume doesn't get any bigger, and in my spare time develop my game.

 

Let's assume I complete my text adventure game, what are my chances of becoming a game designer?    

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Well, that might not really be a big help, but you most probably wouldn't have learned MUCH more in university. Schools generally are only good at teaching you basics, and showing you the way to more knowledge.

 

Their main reason of being is to give you a degree showing a future employer that you have the minimum basics to be able to learn on the job. Nobody leaves university as an expert programmer capable of keeping up with a guy that spent the same 5 years actually working in the field. They have learned A LOT additional (basic) stuff on the side thanks to universities forcing you to apply for math, history, chemistry and language courses that might give them a broader profile in the long run, given they spend themselves enough years working so that they can accumulate enough work expierience.

Its work expierience that counts, not the degree. The ONLY reason why your degree is of any importance is because you lack the 10+ years of work expierience that make you a senior in your field. Once you have worked long enough in the field, nobody will ask you for your degree.

 

 

Now, I still think getting a degree is worth it as long as you lack any work expierience. What is stopping you from attending math classes at night? Is it money (are your sure there are no cheaper classes around)? Do you need to work night shifts (couldn't you find classes that are held at weekends then)?

Really, if you WANT to go to university, and think the degree would be beneficial, don't let tiny shortterm inconviniences stop you from doing it. Yes, its a longwinding slog sometimes, takes years to finish, and sometimes you question the value of the degree you are aiming for (especially when sitting in the lecture of a bad prof that just talks about how awesome he is and how stupid the students are).

Its worth it, at least at the start of your career, because you have much better chances to land that crucial first job. And later on, you might find out that you compete with someone just as good as yourself... and your degree would have given you just a little bit of an edge over the competition. Might not count much anymore, might still count.

 

 

Apart from that, never trust a school to teach you anything. Schools are there to hand out a degree... learning is best done on your own time, at your own pace, with your own projects. Seems like you are already doing this. Good. keep at it, try to get that degree, failing that get ANY job that seems kind of relevant.

Having work expierience as a web programmer is better than no work expierience at all. Chances are good that you don't instantly find a job in the industry, especially without that crucial degree or even more crucial work expierience. Its not the end of the world.

Just keep learning and practicing, and build your portfolio. Maybe at some point, you get the opportunity to get that degree while working with remote courses or a weekend university.

 

There are many ways to get your degrees nowadays.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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I've decided to ... build my own text adventure game in Java. I've got a good understanding of classes(abstract, immutable), interfaces, and methods. ...
Let's assume I complete my text adventure game, what are my chances of becoming a game designer?


Are you sure "game designer" is the job you're going for? Because it sounds more like you're going for a
job as a java programmer. Are you aware of the job requirements for a game designer?

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I've decided to ... build my own text adventure game in Java. I've got a good understanding of classes(abstract, immutable), interfaces, and methods. ...
Let's assume I complete my text adventure game, what are my chances of becoming a game designer?


Are you sure "game designer" is the job you're going for? Because it sounds more like you're going for a
job as a java programmer. Are you aware of the job requirements for a game designer?

 

 

 

I understand, but, I'd like to met one of the "nice to have' skills that the studio near me suggests.

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A little background: I graduated college 3 years now, and I to be quite honest, that school wasted my time/money. While they taught the basics, that's all they taught. Topics such as multi threading/generics/design patterns were not given the time they deserve.

 

A degree program is not job training. It is not supposed to be. It should teach you how to learn and study.  You are supposed to study far beyond the assignments given, the school's role is to introduce you to all the topics, including those you would likely not study on your own.  Unless you are engaging in some type of research specialty, the school likely won't go deeper than that.

 

 If an employer were to ask "Why should I hire you, when I could hire a university student with a degree?" I've got no good answer for that, and I don't believe there is one.

 

It is YOU who need to make yourself valuable to the employer. No school or training will do that.  Even if a person has been valuable in the past they can suddenly decide they will no longer make themselves valuable.  Other people who have never been valuable to others in their lives suddenly decide to become productive, supportive individuals.

 

I've decided to make an honest effort, and build my own text adventure game in Java.

 

Excellent start. 

 

Right now, I'm trying to find a job so that gap on my resume doesn't get any bigger, and in my spare time develop my game.

 

Good idea.  

 

As you are likely around age 23-25 or so, a short work history is not suspicious.  

 

For job hunting advice generally, work your social network more than online sources.  Based on assorted research I'm not bothering to hunt up and link to, your social network is about 10x more productive than 'traditional' job hunting methods. (Although through most of history social connections were the traditional form, but whatever.)  Every hour talking to friends, family, and friends-of-friends, looking for a job using your skills is with about 10 hours of researching local companies and sending in a resume.

 

As you are unlikely to find a junior game programmer position this time of year -- all the schools are finishing off and recent grads are clamoring for the rare entry-level jobs -- now is a bad time to be picky about a specific industry.  Contact all the local companies that you know need programmers, and check in to all the local companies that you don't immediately think need programmers. Just about every white-collar company with 20+ people have a programmer on staff these days for their custom software tasks. 

 

It may not be in games, but getting a job in any industry as a programmer will improve your skills.  Hold a programming job for a year or so, work your hobby projects in the side, and the transition in to games should not be too difficult.  You'll need to likely move to wherever game studios are, but with a year or two of productive programming experience the lack of a degree becomes a little less relevant.

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A little background: I graduated college 3 years now, and I to be quite honest, that school wasted my time/money. While they taught the basics, that's all they taught. Topics such as multi threading/generics/design patterns were not given the time they deserve.

 

A degree program is not job training. It is not supposed to be. It should teach you how to learn and study.  You are supposed to study far beyond the assignments given, the school's role is to introduce you to all the topics, including those you would likely not study on your own.  Unless you are engaging in some type of research specialty, the school likely won't go deeper than that.

 

 

 

 If an employer were to ask "Why should I hire you, when I could hire a university student with a degree?" I've got no good answer for that, and I don't believe there is one.

 

It is YOU who need to make yourself valuable to the employer. No school or training will do that.  Even if a person has been valuable in the past they can suddenly decide they will no longer make themselves valuable.  Other people who have never been valuable to others in their lives suddenly decide to become productive, supportive individuals.

 

 

 

I've decided to make an honest effort, and build my own text adventure game in Java.

 

Excellent start. 

 

 

 

Right now, I'm trying to find a job so that gap on my resume doesn't get any bigger, and in my spare time develop my game.

 

Good idea.  

 

As you are likely around age 23-25 or so, a short work history is not suspicious.  

 

For job hunting advice generally, work your social network more than online sources.  Based on assorted research I'm not bothering to hunt up and link to, your social network is about 10x more productive than 'traditional' job hunting methods. (Although through most of history social connections were the traditional form, but whatever.)  Every hour talking to friends, family, and friends-of-friends, looking for a job using your skills is with about 10 hours of researching local companies and sending in a resume.

 

As you are unlikely to find a junior game programmer position this time of year -- all the schools are finishing off and recent grads are clamoring for the rare entry-level jobs -- now is a bad time to be picky about a specific industry.  Contact all the local companies that you know need programmers, and check in to all the local companies that you don't immediately think need programmers. Just about every white-collar company with 20+ people have a programmer on staff these days for their custom software tasks. 

 

It may not be in games, but getting a job in any industry as a programmer will improve your skills.  Hold a programming job for a year or so, work your hobby projects in the side, and the transition in to games should not be too difficult.  You'll need to likely move to wherever game studios are, but with a year or two of productive programming experience the lack of a degree becomes a little less relevant.

 

 

AH Frob, many thanks for your input, I was hoping your advice.

 

I recently read your blog post about starting small, and the number of programmers who started just as I did. :D I greatly appreciated that post.

Edited by Syrena

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