View Full Version : Career in computer game design
I have a decent nephew aged 15, who is reasonably bright and hard working.
He'd like a career in computer game design.
He intends to study mathematics, IT and media at school when he is 17-18.
I approve of his setting himself some goals and would like to give some gentle helpful advice. (His parents are good friends of mine, so I'm welcome to do so. We're all in the UK.)
I'd be grateful for Dopers assistance. :cool:
1. If you work in the industry, could you give a summary of what it's like?
(Pay, conditions, career path etc.)
2. What do such companies look for in a recruit?
3. Are there other jobs that come to mind with those qualifications?
10-29-2009, 12:15 PM
I have a friend who has done some computer game design. He's also put together stuff for tv and movie animation (like Veggie Tales). He graduated with a combined Electrical Engineering/Computer Science degree. He worked in the Bay Area for a number of years doing some sort of more general programming, but all the while he was developing games (not complete games but mock up games to show new ways of doing textures and other stuff I don't understand completely) on his own time and posting them to relevant forums. After doing that for about 4 years or so he landed a job making computer games.
Have a goal and work towards it.
I believe it pays pretty good once you've proven your worth.
The Hamster King
10-29-2009, 12:31 PM
I'm a senior designer at Sony. I've been in the industry for more than a decade.
1. Pay tends to be low for the skills involved. In most cases a good programmer or artist will make more out of the industry than in. People want to work in games because it's fun and interesting, so that drives down salaries. Similarly work conditions can often be rough. Games are often made on a tight deadline and long periods of crunch time with long hours and high pressure are not uncommon.
2. Game teams are big and companies tend to look for people with very specific skills for specific slots. General skills are a plus, but don't carry a lot of weight for an entry-level position. For a designer they're typically looking for someone with level design and scripting skills. For a programmer they usually want someone with a background in graphics, networking, or physical simulation. That's not to say that people with other backgrounds can't get work. Those are just the hottest skills.
3. The skills you need to be a game programmer or a game artist generally transfer to other jobs outside the industry. However, the skills you need to be a designer don't. If your nephew is interested in the game industry but wants to have a fallback position, he should attend a four-year university and get a degree in software engineering.
For more information about breaking into the industry, read Tom Sloper's website (http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html).
10-29-2009, 01:47 PM
Remember, there are one billion Chinese game developers...:(
10-29-2009, 02:46 PM
The general thing to understand, is that the "sexier" the job is, the more people want to do it, so the lower the pay is compared to some other, very similar, but less sexy jobs.
For example, my friend who designed car interiors for a major auto manufacturer, made a lot more money when she took a job designing RV toilets.
10-29-2009, 02:54 PM
An alternative to taking a 4 year degree would be taking a 1 year course out of somewhere like "Vancouver Film School". I think they have specialized hands on Game development courses.
I knew someone who went there and took a one year high intensity animation course. He also wanted to get into game design but it turns out he got his foot in the door with an animation studio. He is now working on special effects for movies, which is not too shabby. The only thing is that he still paid a pretty penny for the course (I'm sure it wasn't more than 20 grand) but, hey, it worked out well for him.
The Hamster King
10-29-2009, 03:19 PM
Remember, there are one billion Chinese game developers...:(There's a lot of outsourcing to China right now for art, but they're not doing much primary development for the American market.
It's tricky to outsource a game entirely because regional tastes in games vary so much. A game that's a huge hit in the American market might be a total flop in Europe. A lot of Japanese games never get localized to North America because our tastes are so different.
I don't see Chinese game developers driving U.S. ones out of business any more than the Hong Kong or Bollywood film industries will drive Hollywood out of business.
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