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    Xilef
  Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:39 pm
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Looking for careers involving Video Games?

I can list you a few, it depends on what you are good at.

It might even be worth calling up a games company and asking them what kind of job positions they hire for.

I'll write up a list for you and some requirements later

EDIT:
With an English degree there isn't much you can do beyond working your way towards journalism or writing.

If anyone can think of any other jobs post below and I'll add them.

  • Writer - Need published literary works, a background in stage writing or screen writing, alternatively you could be best friends with a game producer.
  • Game Journalist - Needs a few years experience as a journalist, of which some spent as a tech journalist writing reviews or columns or to be best friends with someone who owns a popular video game blog.
  • Play Tester - Need to be able to survive the urge to kill yourself, wait for an opening at a games company or apply at an agency for product testers and hope you get one involved in the games industry. This role can actually lead you into other roles in the games industry, a lot of developers started as play testers.
  • Help Desk - Wait for an opening at a games company. This role doesn't help you in a career towards developing games.
  • Game Designer - This job doesn't exist as anyone in the world can fill this role. To get this title officially you have to be best friends with a game producer.
  • Concept Artist/Character Artist/Environment Artist - Need an art degree and skills in photoshop and 3D modelling software.
  • 3D Artist - The same requirements as the other artists but more focused on the 3D modelling software.
  • UI Designer - Need examples of product designs or UI designs that you have done in the past and some of them need to be published. That art degree would help a lot.
  • Game Developer - Generic role for someone who programs, makes levels, comes up with ideas. This role is more common in small studios.
  • Engine Programmer - Needs to be able to demonstrate exceptional programming skills and to be able to work in a team.
  • Scripters - Generally needs to know a scripting language and the basics of programming, a computer science degree would have trained in both of these. This job tends to be merged with other jobs and become the game developer role. Some prior work with other engines is a normal job requirement.
  • Tools programmer - a CS degree helps and you should know a high level oop language such as C# and Java. 3D graphics knowledge would be needed for some tools.
  • Level Designer - This job title is quickly disappearing as tools and technologies are making it easier for artists and designers to create levels. If you want a job as a level designer you need examples of levels that you have created for games and they need to be excellent examples, so you might as well throw in the requirements of an artist into this one too.
  • Voice Actor - You need prior experience in voice acting or stage acting, alternatively you can become a Hollywood celebrity and some moron will think you would be an excellent voice for one of their game characters.
  • Motion Capture Actor - Best to be employed by a mo-cap specialist company, for which you need experience in dance or stage acting.
  • Sound Engineer - You need experience in music or some good examples of your sound effects being used in films or games.
  • Composer - Need a degree in music or examples of your music being used in games.
  • Musician - It's better to join a music company.
  • Project Manager - You need a good list of completed projects that you have been the project manager of in the past.
  • Producer - You need to have produced some games that have made a LOT of money or work your way up the ranks from a programmer/game tester.
  • Director - I actually don't know much about this role, I understand that you need a lot of experience and you need to be on good terms with the upper-management of a large game company.
  • Marketing - It's usually better to join an agency for this one. If you want to do box art or posters then you need an art degree.
  • Market Research - As far as I know, you need to be hired by a market research company and then hope you get to do market research for a games company. Some smaller studios might someone who literally sits there and plays games for half the day before writing about interesting points the next half of the day, but this role is stupid as if you want to be in the games industry you should already be doing this every weekend.

Generally the development roles need experience with version control software such as git and to have examples of games that you have been involved with, if you don't have examples of games that you have developed then you have next to no chance of ever getting into the industry. You need to have made games as a passion to be able to take it up as a career.

Also, do you really want a job in the games industry? Your social life will disappear, project crunch times will make you go mad and your relationship partner will forever hate you for never being home on time. There is a reason why large studios have beds and vending machines; it's so you stay in the office 24/7 working.

You will also lose your time to play games beyond the weekend, I became very out of touch of the gaming world during my time at a games studio and it was because I didn't have time to play games, I still don't have time to play games but now I have a guy who plays games for me and tells me about their interesting design choices and features, this guy is my market researcher and happens to be my best friend (Which is how most people get the more ludicrous jobs in the industry).

There's also the question, if you like chocolate would you really want to spend your life working in a chocolate factory? I actually like making games over playing them and I like programming and writing most out of all the aspects of making a game.

If you find this too daunting, it's because a lot of people in the games industry entered it out of raw natural talent, you literally have to be a natural genius in your field these days, the alternative to having raw natural talent is to have enough passion to be able to discipline yourself through education, you can learn anything with enough discipline.

DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go to a "Game Schools", all these colleges made specifically for games industries DO NOT TRAIN YOU IN THE SKILLS YOU ACTUALLY NEED. Anyone who joins a game school and gets a job in the industry got that job because of their raw, natural talent - The school had NOTHING, ZERO, ZILTCH to do with it. Waste of money and a god damn scam. Get a Computer Science or Art degree.

Games Design/Development/Technology degrees don't train you in the skills you need either, they train you in how to use game maker and write XNA games, although these degrees actually hold some merit and can sometimes teach you skills, they are not focused enough on the Computer Science aspect of games so you lose the skills that Computer Science courses can teach you (Operating systems and networking, advanced programming, project management, systems design, embedded applications).

To conclude: The best and smartest way to get a job in the games industry is to have a degree in Art or Computer Science and to start making games NOW.
The more time you waste the less time you'll have to enter the industry as it is fast moving and you can lose out in technical advances if you lag behind. Ken Silverman is one of the greatest engine programmers we have, he was a shit programmer but his technology was outstanding. He was unable to keep up with the change to polygons and he invested in voxel graphics, which have only just started reappearing in games. Because of this, he retired at a very young age (But as a very rich kid).
If he was still in the industry he would be rivalling John Carmack, so get making games right away and keep up with the constantly changing industry, don't lag behind!


Last edited by Xilef on Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:50 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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    Amy
  Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:44 pm
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Definitely, definitely, definitely take Computer Science over something more specific such as "Computer Games Programming". The latter might sound better but in the long run you are much better off on a general comp sci course.


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    Xilef
  Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:56 pm
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I disagree with you there Wyatt, a computer games programming degree should cover everything that regular computer science teaches but forks off towards mathematics, physics, AI and 3D graphics.

In the world of work, the person with a games programming degree is expected to be a more advanced programmer than one with a regular computer science degree as games programming is much more difficult than any other kind of application programming, I was hired as an Android/iOS developer for a company that doesn't even touch games because of my games background, I am expected to know advanced mathematical concepts and low-level programming as well as multiple languages and operating systems, a regular CS student is not expected to know about advanced concepts.

Perhaps we had different experiences (Different universities), I am a student of "Computer Science (Games Programming)" rather than "Computer Games Programming" so maybe there is a difference in the two.
I always introduce myself as a computer science student who specialises in games programming - which tends to impress.

What university did you go to Wyatt? I'm a student at Kingston University London.


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    Glitchfinder
  Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:47 pm
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I tend to agree with Xilef, but I have good reasons to do so. I live in Irvine, California, and one of the reasons that there are so many computer companies, especially game companies, based in the area is because they use the University of California, Irvine as a recruiting source. UCI was one of the first colleges in the US to offer a full game programming degree, and have long since come up with a wide array of computer science and programming degrees to offer to students. I know Blizzard tends to recruit programmers almost exclusively from UCI, and pretty much snaps up the best of each graduating class when given the opportunity. That said, I do not recommend specialized game schools, as I have heard horror stories of how they devour your money and leave you with a programming and design education more broken than if you had simply graduated with a generic CompSci degree. Chances are that you're better off with a degree from a university known for providing a good education in more than just computer science, if you want to get a job quickly.

Also, Xilef has a point about game programming in general. It's one of the few types of programming where you can be expected to actually put advanced math skills to work. In many cases, game programmers HAVE to be mathematicians to optimize specific aspects of games. In other cases, game programmers would be expected to design formulas to suit specific needs, which is something I have yet to see in common use anywhere else. (With the exception of search ranking for Google, oddly enough) A lot of applications could stand to have the same touches applied to them that are applied to games. Especially long-standing applications that have gone through many different releases over the years. (Like Photoshop. It had originally been programmed with huge patches of machine code because the software was too slow otherwise. Now? Who cares if it's slow or not, it's the industry standard and you have to use it.)

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    arev
  Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:59 pm
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Hi there! It's been a long time since I've posted here, so hello all, and now back to the topic...
What do you guys mean by "advanced math skills"? I can't think of any case, in games programming, that would require you to use a line integral or a differential. I work at a medium-sized mobile games company (we don't do crapware, for that matter) and basically the most math our programmers have to do is vector arithmetic. Once someone used a 2nd degree dynamics equation, but that was more of a fancy, than an actual need.
Hi level math is required if you're an ENGINE programmer, but since we've got Unity, UDK an the likes at our disposal, each day less people/companies decide to develop their own engine. It's extremely expensive and, unless you have a few dozens programmers to spare, you'll never get even close to what, say Unity, has to offer.
Now, in that company, I work at, we have three artists, all with master degrees in fine arts. But we also have a few programmers, including our lead programmer, who didn't graduate any computer science or programming field. Programming is just the thing they've been doing all ther life and they're really good at it. So, since we've got the engine part covered by excellent Unity 3D engineers, "all" our programmers have to do is actually the game logic and some plugin integration, most of which is well documented.
The whole game industry is a pretty big place right now, and there's plenty of room for talented people without speciffic degrees. It's not like EA or Blizzard is the only place you can work at. Unless you want, that is.

Oh yeah, I got into game-dev having experience with RPG Maker and 3D architectual visualizations. That plus some motivation. I'm pretty happy how it's turning out.

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    Xilef
  Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:34 pm
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arev wrote:
Hi level math is required if you're an ENGINE programmer, but since we've got Unity, UDK an the likes at our disposal, each day less people/companies decide to develop their own engine. It's extremely expensive and, unless you have a few dozens programmers to spare, you'll never get even close to what, say Unity, has to offer.

Any old computer science degree will train you in scripting, actual game programming though is engine programming, using Unity or UDK does not require any mathematical skill or advanced programming knowledge.

And I do not think it is expensive, I was hired to program an in-house 3D graphics engine for iOS and Android, I worked on the engine alone for 2 months and in the coming weeks our first app using it will be released. The problem with Unity and UDK is that they are very heavy-weight, especially if you want to make an app that has 3D graphics but isn't a game.
I won't say it can offer what Unity or UDK can in terms of tools, but it is powerful enough to recreate a scene from Unity or UDK with the same quality running at a higher frame-rate.

To be brutal, anyone with at least a CS degree is expected to pick up any API or scripting language, my 3D engine is being used by people with CS degrees who have no clue about advanced mathematical concepts, but I'm just 1 guy and without the concepts taught on a games programming degree I probably wouldn't have been able to create such a project on my own, generally I feel that I am at a massive advantage with a games programming cs degree compared to the regular computer science degrees that my peers have.

Personally, I'd hire the engine programmer over anyone else.


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    arev
  Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:42 pm
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Hire to make you an engine? Sure. Make a game? I'd think about that twice. From what I've seen over the last few years the "engine" guys tend to not quite catch the whole gameplay thingy. They're more interested in borderline optimisation, for example, than making the game actually fun to play. And that isn't something anyone can teach you. You have to try, fail, draw conclusions, repeat. Of course, that doesn't apply to all the engine programmers, just my observation based on a few examples. I guess I simply value the talent and devotion of a homegrown programmer over a piece of paper from a university. And Games Programming degree isn't the only place you can get yourself dirty with that "advanced math', you know? Mastering in electrical engineering (particularly industrial robots) I've had my fair share of transform matrices in all colours and flavors. Back in the days our company was developing our own engine, our 3D programmer was using the exact same book I used for my thesis. Just because he felt it was the best for what he had to do. And it wasn't a book about transform matrices, or 3D space in general, it was about "Robot Dynamics and Control". I'm not trying to undermine anyone's education. Just pointing out that there's usually more than one way of doing most things.

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    Xilef
  Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:13 pm
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Yes one of our programmers graduated as an electrical engineering student, I can definitely see where that is a path.

I don't recommend it as a path to take for a job in the games industry, though.


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    cheetahxing
  Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:32 pm
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Cool thread and interesting to see how the atmosphere has changed a bit. When I was applying post undergrad (5 years ago???) a focused degree for game programming was seen as less versatile than a CS degree for the very same reasons.

Still, in both cases, it's been my experience that a good portfolio helps immensely (for almost any position). This is already well known, but if we're offering a bit of advice, Git, bitbucket, etc are great ways to showcase your coding chops if that's the route you choose.

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    Toams
  Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:28 pm
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arev wrote:
What do you guys mean by "advanced math skills"?

Extensive knowledge of matrix calculations is extremely helpful

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    cheetahxing
  Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:44 am
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Toams wrote:
arev wrote:
What do you guys mean by "advanced math skills"?

Extensive knowledge of matrix calculations is extremely helpful


Knowledge of Quaternions is also helpful for 3d transforms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternion

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Of course we could make things more challenging, Lisa, but then the stupider students would be in here complaining, furrowing their brows in a vain attempt to understand the situation.


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    arev
  Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:01 pm
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Matrix calculations aren't even half as bad as they sound (I know, I've "done" them ; ). Quaternions are a higher level of abstract, true, but these are still things that are only useful when programming an engine. Gameplay programmers barely touch this stuff. That is unless the engine doesn't provide any reasonable API, or they want to hack something. Don't scare the kids with math!

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    Nachos
  Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:13 pm
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matrix calculatiosn aren't that hard..


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    Xilef
  Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:17 pm
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I'll add gameplay programmers to the list as scripters

Edit: using matrices is easy, writing the manipulation logic is the very hard part, most companies would have a maths library to use, in the case of mine I had to create their maths library and you really need to optimise hard as matrices will always appear high in programme performance reports.
Fun fact: Apple's ARM NEON optimised matrix manipulation functions run slower on pre-ARMv7 devices than non-optimised functions


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    arev
  Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:10 pm
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You could also add Tools Programmer. Some companies maintain a position strictly for this. Oh, and if you call it Tools Scripters I'll start to think you have difficulties calling a programmer anyone who doesn't program engines :p

Another fun fact: in earlier versions of Symbian, probably around S60 v3, there was no sine function available. There was only a table with a number of sampled values.

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    Xilef
  Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:00 am
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Yep I'll add tools


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    Xhukari
  Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:23 pm
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Xilef wrote:
Game Developer - Generic role for someone who programs, makes levels, comes up with ideas. This role is more common in small studios.

That is what I want to be! I'm a very 'middle' of the road person; I love programming, but bad at maths. Who has just failed their first year of Computer Science (due to said maths unit) and am switching to a BSc Computer Games Technology course. (Both are at Portsmouth)...


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    Xilef
  Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:49 pm
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Xhukari wrote:
That is what I want to be! I'm a very 'middle' of the road person; I love programming, but bad at maths. Who has just failed their first year of Computer Science (due to said maths unit) and am switching to a BSc Computer Games Technology course. (Both are at Portsmouth)...

This is the job I used to have, however I neglected to say that you need to enter the job with a speciality, so I entered with a game programming background, another person in the same company was hired for advanced maths and the others had technical backgrounds, so failing a CS course isn't that best thing.

Also, Games Tech is on the list of degrees to avoid, it will be very difficult to get an industry job with a games tech degree especially when it doesn't teach core computer science, if you are definitely taking up the tech course then I wish you the best of luck and you MUST teach yourself extra skills outside of the course, you will miss out a lot on a tech degree so you must make it up in your free time.

Also, I failed maths A level, but I was able to pick it all up very quickly once I applied it to 3D graphics technology, don't let the maths bog you down, when you apply it you will pick it up along with the general computer science

If you want to discuss your degree with me then feel free to email me: felix.jones[at]battleworldrpg.net

Edit: I have one piece of advice that I think you should follow, take a 4 year sandwich degree of games tech if your university has the option, you will spend your 3rd year on an industry placement that will give you real world experience as well as a very good CV for when you graduate, I think you should do this and start looking for a games company that is willing to have a placement student/internship offering for you to take up, games companies don't often have this so you need to start contacting them ASAP in your first year, I did a year of placement and I recommended it 100000% to everyone, you learn new skills and return to university as an A* level student and getting a 1st is much easier


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    Xhukari
  Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:48 pm
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Mmm, contacted you. :)


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    Amy
  Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:50 pm
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One I've applied for a few times (and not got) is the unlikely role of forum moderator - a paid, serious, position. I'm not sure to be honest if adminning HBGames is a good thing or bad thing for that role. But they're after hardened, serious people, not amateurs; knowing your way around a forum is less important than having customer facing experience and other such things.


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    noise shaman
  Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:47 am
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games journalism

ahahhahahhahhahahhahhahhahahahhhaha


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    Amy
  Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:44 am
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Well, somebody must be writing the shite newsagent PlayStation magazines.


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    Cuervo
  Thu May 01, 2014 2:27 am
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This is a very informative topic for anyone who wants to take their hobby of game development and turn it into a full-fledged career. There is something truly special and rewarding when your passion aligns with what you do for a living.

I will be graduating in June with a B.S. in Game and Application Development, which at my particular school translates as more of a generalized software development degree with an emphasis on game development. I cannot stress the importance of some of the topics that have been brought up in this thread. I hate to actually admit this to myself, but most (though of course not all) of what I've learned about game development and design, I learned outside of class and on my own time. That being said, I believe that since the game industry is such a melting pot of disciplines to begin with, any such related degree (like computer sciences, art, etc.) can be spun into something that can work for you as long as can show them that you are applicable to their company. Experience and a strong portfolio will land you a job over someone who has the best degree but little to show for it. This is a forum about making games, so I'm guessing nearly all of you have done so, and just because it may be with RPG Maker, or what have you, that still counts as a game and something you might consider putting in your portfolio, if it works for what you are applying for. Obviously, if your applying for a programming job within a game company, you'd want to show something you've programmed yourself. If your looking to be an artist, you'll need to showcase those particular skills.

One of my current problems is that, until recently, I didn't know which direction I wanted to take my career. I didn't know whether I wanted to be an artist, a programmer, game designer, etc. As a result, I have a large portion of general knowledge how to do everything, but little knowledge of the specifics. While this is a blessing, because it gives me versatility, it is also a determent because now my portfolio and my career goals lack focus. If you really want to make this your career and primary source of income, I would suggest figuring out a specific discipline within the gaming industry that you are really interested in doing, and stick with it. Otherwise the chances of you being hired by the big AAA companies is probably going to be severely limited, cause chances are there will be plenty of other candidates who will be able to produce higher quality work than you, with consistency, because they specialized.

Fortunately, there is a booming indie game industry now that really caters to those who are multi-talented and wish to remain that way, as well as those people who would simply rather keep this whole thing a side-quest. Just know that your workload will be much higher, the road longer, and the income not so steady (if there is any at all).


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