JOIN
Get Time
forums   
Search | Watch Thread  |  My Post History  |  My Watches  |  User Settings
View: Flat  | Threaded  | Tree
Previous Thread  |  Next Thread
Getting into the game industry | Reply
I've learned a lot about the IT business by now. I've been interviewed by companies, talked to people, etc. But I've never really made contact with people from the game industry. And I'd really would like to know more about it. It seems that the process of getting into the game industry is different from what I've seen till now and have been part of.

Take Topcoder as an example. It gets a lot of attention from companies like Bloomberg, UBS, which lie in the corporate/enterprise sector (or whatever it's called), Google, which makes everthing but games, and others which also don't have a lot to do with games. And it seems that it should be the opposite. Algorithm matches attract a lot of great coders who know C++, algorithms, are good at optimising code, etc.

Why don't the game companies come out to talented students, a lot of whom can be found on Topcoder, ICPC, and other competitions? What are they looking for? On many sites you can read "sorry, no internships"! The only company that I found (and that I've heard of before) that offers internships is EA and it doesn't offer them to "international students" (which means students that live outside US).

I'm writing this because I'd really like someone who knows something about that business or worked on games to share their experience, explain how gaming is different from the rest of the IT, etc. And maybe write a few hints on how to get there :). I would be very greatful.
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
I know two guys who did an internship with http://www.guerrilla-games.com, but reading their FAQ it seems they don't offer internships for international students either (which, in the case, means outside the Netherlands).
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
Try Blue Fang Games: http://www.bluefang.com/
My friend used to work for them and they are definatelly hiring.
I am not sure about their international student/internship policy.
If you want the email address of the guy who I talked to from there about two months back, contact me and I'll try to find it.
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
Games pay less, and they rely on programmers coming to them. There is a lot more competition for game programming jobs from people who are really passionate than for other programming jobs.

Go check out gamedev.net for a big, actrive community centred around games development the same way TC is centred around competitions.
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
I've never applied for a job in gaming, but friends have. Apparently many game companies would like to see evidence that you can really develop games before hiring you, even if it's just for an internshp. For example, they'll ask you to send them code of a game or game engine that you (co-)created. They want to see that you're interested enough in game development that you've found opportunities to make games already, if even just in your own spare time.

>> On many sites you can read "sorry, no internships"!

I wouldn't let that stop me. If someone good enough came along, why not take them? Rules like that are made to be ignored (from the applicant's point of view). :) The worst thing that could happen is they reject you and you enter their database as someone who's interested.
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by Minilek) | Reply
Yes that is right. They will expect you to bring something with you that actually runs - a finished mini-game or a tech demo. They will likely ask to have a look through the code but in my experience that is always very brief. But it is pretty much essential to already know how to program, and to show a genuine interest. Getting to be a game programmer if you don't do it as a hobby is tough - they rely on people who will happily work lots of unpaid overtime.
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by d000hg) | Reply
So they rely on people coming to them, require that they show their own work, pay them less, make them work unpaid overtime. I guess programming games must be the most interesting job on earth given that they can hire so many people :).
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
I'm not sure if that was sarcasm or not. But essentailly that IS a good summary of the industry. To so many people, being a game programmer is a way to get paid for their hobby. They already work every spare hour on making games as a hobby, so they are happy to work overtime becasue they love making games. It's an interesting industry (I worked in it), but in many ways VERY different from what an average CS graduate wants to do!
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by d000hg) | Reply
Can you please describe these differences?
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
Well I think lots of average CS students aren't passionate about programming, they see it as a career and nothing else. But the good programmers are the ones who learnt programming in their own time, and are involved in coding projects as a hobby - whther it's games or TopCoder or open-source stuff.
If you're not the kind of person who enjoys a 7-hour coding stint (at least occasionally) you aren't cut out for the games industry, and I think lots of people doing CS don't fit that type. Of course lots do on the other hand - people on TC aren't the typical CS students - I'm not attacking CS as a degree.
I make the industry sound terrible but the fact is if you DO love your coding, programming games is a great area to work in because you get to focus on it so much. If you rate job satisfaction over a huge salary (and it's not a terrible salary, just not the highest you could get) it can be your idea of employment heaven!
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
I'm going to work in a game company making games for mobile market. In my opinion, if you want to work for a game company making games for Console, PC then it's difficult to get into first time. Just read the job requirement on many web sites, mobile game programmer positions usually require less experience compare to PC or Console game programmer (certainly, the skill for mobile game programmer is different than PC or Console game programmer, so the comparing above is not perfect). How about get started as a mobile game programmer and build your career up?
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
Treyarch in Santa Monica(Los Angeles), CA was offering internships while I was in college(around 2003). I think opportunities exist, but because there aren't huge numbers of them they're harder to find.

Game companies have taken advantage of topcoder before - the people who did the superhero MMORPG come to mind(Cryptic Studios, I think).

I came close to working in the game industry but decided not to. However, I have some friends who currently work there, so I'll offer my advice both from my own experience and from theirs.

First, as others have said, it helps a lot if you have a game or demo that you can show. Typically employers will demand a passion for making games out of applicants, and having a demo reel will help show your excitement for making games(as well as skill).

Second, you may want to consider going to where game developers hang out. There are a number of game development conferences, such as GDC, that are held annually that would be a great place to shop your resume around. Similarly there are numerous online forums(gamedev.net is the biggest I know of) where game dev geeks hang out.

How is it different than the rest of IT? The economics of game development are different. If you're talking console or PC game development, the costs for a modern game are very large, and the game must be pretty successful to break even. In some senses, the industry is like that of the music or movie industry - there is a large, up front cost with the potential of a huge payout(or a big loss, if the game is a dud). Because of that, typically game development studios have deals with publishers that govern the schedule for a game(and many other factors as well). The publishers will provide funding, but expect to see progress(in the form of playable demos) at various milestones, and if those are not met, the whole project could be axed. So, the publishers have a lot of control, especially around deadlines. You may have heard of "crunch time." Many game development companies expect employees to put in long hours to get a game done. Since developers are salaried employees, they do not recieve overtime for this work. It even appears that some game companies routinely count on this overtime in their schedules. Like any industry, expectations will vary based on the company and the group.

As for breaking in, there are a few options. Some folks take jobs in the quality assurance department, and try to work their way into development. It can work, but QA is typically paid at relatively low rates, so I wouldn't recommend this option. If you are lucky enough to get an internship, that usually will translate into a full time job offer. Or, you can just apply for full time jobs. Since game companies will typically prefer candidates with game industry experience, your chances can be improved by showing off a demo. This is the route I'd recommend, but it can be difficult.
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by sjelkjd) | Reply
I agree totally with all you say, it seems accuracte from my experience and what others tell me.
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by d000hg) | Reply
Just wanted to direct people to http://www.gamasutra.com as well. Another great resource.

I'll also add in, as others have said, that game development tends to chew up and spit out young developers, requiring 60-80 hour weeks with bad pay and high stress. When I was going out of college I had planned on getting into game dev, even wrote a few VMU games (remember the Dreamcast?) in assembly as my senior project. I had contacts at Sega and was ready to go until I realized I could make 2x as much and work easier hours at a "normal" software engineering job.

I don't mean to discourage you; for many it's a very rewarding job. But you have to be the type who really dives into his or her profession to make it work in the long-term.
Re: Getting into the game industry (response to post by rusolis) | Reply
Google, which makes everthing but games

I find that comment mildly funny.
Try Microsoft then. They got an XBox division (games like Halo3, Gears of War), and MS publishes games by some independent studios (Gas Powered games for Dungeon Siege, Ensemble Studios for Age of Empires series)

And definitely apply to EA if you are into games. But you need a good background in computer graphics.
RSS