Becoming competitive for jobs in the gaming industry

Hi everyone, I thought I might as well make my first post something that was decently relevant to at least one person. ^^

So here’s the deal: I have a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, and I basically work as a mid-level manager, directing and supervising project teams of twenty people or less. I’d rather not do this for the rest of my life, and no matter how attractive the prospect of working to make games is I understand that even low-level positions tend to be very, very competitive.

As such, I was wondering if there was anything I could do, other than continuing to expand my programming knowledge in relevant areas, to build competence that would give me an advantage on applications? (I want to do scenario design, but since I’ve been advised that it’s pretty much impossible to start there I’m entertaining the thought of any technical posting.)

I also notice that a lot of applications request a list of the games you’ve worked on, and what you’ve done for them. In order to ethically bolster that area of a resume, would it make sense to start volunteering to work on (good) mods of existing games?

I can’t answer directly, but I will share this:

The only time I had the opportunity to work for an established game company (they had already done Silent Hunter) I found that the pay was so low as to be unacceptable to me. When I turned the job down because of this the man was truly surprised and said that the pay scales in the game industry were traditionally low.

That is only a sample-set of one, so I don’t know if his statement is true.

I’m a game designer with Sony. My first piece of advice is to go to Tom Sloper’s website and read what he has to say about how to break into the game industry. Tom’s been in the business for 20 years and knows what he’s talking about.

It’s absolutely essential if you want to get a job as a games programmer to build up your skill set in an area that gaming companies care about – graphics, networking, or physical simulation. If you don’t do that kind of work in your current job you need to start writing demos or little toy games of your own on the side. Getting involved in the mod community is also a great idea. Your goal is to build up a portfolio of hobbyist and semi-pro work that shows you have the skills they want.

And, if you’re REALLY interested in games, this shouldn’t be much of a chore. You have to think this sort of thing is fun, otherwise going into the game industry is pointless. As **Khadaji ** has pointed out, the pay is worse (and the hours longer) than comparable programming jobs in other industries.

While the main guys are on vacation they have some guest posts buy people fromthe industry that might be of interest to you. Although it seems they are on the art side of things as apposed to the programming side of things.

There is a bit of a catch-22, as with all specilist careers like this, you often need games experience to get the job, but can’t get the experience without working in the industry.

That said we do employ talented people without games experience (I work in graphics development at a bit games company).

One of the best things you can do is put together a impressive, professional looking, C++ demo in DirectX or OpenGL. We have employed junior programmers on the back of a decent demo. Remember to pay attention to the style of your source code, and avoid rookie performance gotchas (i.e. to many virtual methods etc.)…

What do you mean “we”?
(I ask because I’m nearly done with my animation reel.)

The company I work for… Not me personally :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m not sure I agree with that. A lot of modders get entry level design positions with no professional experience at all. It’s harder than it used to be, but it still happens. Levels designers often have to work with a scripting language, so a programming background can be a big plus.

Download the Unreal editor and build some levels. There are tutorials all over the web. Put together a portfolio, and send out some resumes. Developers want experience obviously, but there’s a real talent shortage right now, so if you can convince someone you’re smart and motivated, someone will give you a shot. You’ll probably have a better chance with unproven developers. Quality developers like Imsomniac or Infinity Ward can hold out for top-notch talent, but most companies have to cultivate new talent.

This site has listings of where developers all over the world categorized by city.