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Is game developer viable long-term career?

What do you think? As far as liking the job, it is something that excites me. But what about long-term career? Is it easy to switch to other type of development? Am I correct? What would be my advantage? Please advise.

Atari
Wednesday, July 24, 2002

It's a fantastic long-term career. There would be some difficulties transferring experience to business development, but you probably wouldn't need to.

Game development is some of the most complex development work around, and it's also some of the worst-managed. So it's very important to examine the employer and to understand the software development process.

Hugh Wells
Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Games developer is certainly a viable long term career.  However, you had better like it because the competition is tuff and the pay is low (in comparision).

James Ladd
Thursday, July 25, 2002

And according to most accounts the hours are long.

Adrian Gilby
Thursday, July 25, 2002

No, but it can be an exiting few years and if you like the entertainment scene and are willing to work for low wages, there will be things to do later on

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, July 25, 2002

I have a friend in the game industry, and he's been there for about 20 years. He calls me up whenever he is looking for a new job. (Game companies go out of business a lot, because of the hit-driven nature of the game industry.)

Each time I talk to him, I ask him why he doesn't switch to some more stable and higher-paying line of work, such as database consulting. He always says "What? And leave show business?"

This friend also says that there's fairly blatant age discrimination in the game industry. He feels that game companies would rather hire a cheap hard-working kid than an expensive experienced older guy.

Still, people in the game industry generally love it, despite the poor working conditions.

So I would say, give it a try, you'll certainly have an exciting time. And the general skills you'll learn, how to write and maintain large programs in C/C++, will be useful in other lines of work.

John Palevich
Thursday, July 25, 2002


Any Relation to Josh Palevich, of California?

Heh.  Anyway, what always strikes me funny about the young kid works hard / expensive older programmer is the dicotomy of the industry:

1) Most consuders hate Wal-Mart  Quality clothes.  But they want wal-mart-priced software, THEN ...

2) Complain about quality. Which tells me Heusser's Law:

3) Everybody wants quality software.  Nobody wants to pay for it.  If you expect something for nothing ...

  ... You end up with Hillary Clinton's Vision of National Health Care. :-)

just my $0.02 ... if you LIKE the Clinton/Health Care Deal, feel free to find a better ananolgy ....

Matt H.
Thursday, July 25, 2002

Josh,

In the games industry you don't learn how to maintain programs, that's about the last thing they do.
As pointed out before the games industry is very hit-driven. Games that aren't hits are never maintained, and games that are hits usually need to be rewritten for the next version to use all the new graphical possibilities of the next generation hardware.

I have worked in the games industry and basically everything said here is true. The low pay, long hours, no old programmers and it can be bad for your cv. But the atmosphere was very good, everybody is just fanatical about games.

Gameboy Advanced
Thursday, July 25, 2002

I've worked in games in the past. It's a blast. Game developers are amongst the most skilled and the most creative at problem solving. If you work in a triple-A game company keep in mind that there are four major gaming tradeshows every year, and that you'll be likely to demo your game in some of them, so that makes for about a code-rush deadline every now and then. The job is tough, the burn-out rate of employees is pretty high. But you gotta love it. Few things are as rewarding in the software industry than to see a game you have worked on so hard, on display on shelves all around the world.

I made the switch to telecoms with no problems at all. I found the set of skills gained by developing games more than sufficient, for every job I had thereafter.

Beka Pantone
Thursday, July 25, 2002

I have to agree - watching people having fun with something you've made is a REALLY good feeling... making someone else happier is about the best thing you can aim for in life.

By contrast, no-one ever seems cheerful to see version 9 of the CRM system turn up on their desktop.

However, the games industry is for the young. There just seems to be no progression. Their ideas about project management are laughable, and experienced developers don't get even as valued as the rest of the IT does (and that's not much).

After a decade of being a junior programmer, and coding frantically to try and keep up with ever changing targets, you start to wonder if there's an alternative - if there are better ways to do things. The rest of the industry at least tries to pretend to be interested in reducing that stress by trying those things, but the games people think you can solve it with application of enough testosterone... mention design patterns to game developers and they laugh in a "we're blokes, we don't need things like that" tone.

It's the same tone they used about C++, five years after everyone else moved to it. The same tone they used about C, five years after everyone else moved to it... While things like the graphics technology is ahead of everyone else, the project management technology and the development technologies are years behind. They'll end up picking up design patterns as a way of speeding up development in about 2006, after everyone else has moved on to something else.
I think that's a shame, because other than that it's a great thing to be doing, but the stress levels are bonkers and there's no interested in fixing them. And those stress levels make it not a long term career, not unless you're one of the ones that can climb out of the code pits.

Katie Lucas
Friday, July 26, 2002

One thing about games and maintanence. Actually, these days many games are based on earlier games, and reuse huge chunks of code.

In addition, many recent games use game engine middleware. For example, the Quake engine is reused in a bunch of games. And last year's big hit game "Grand Theft Auto 3" was based on the Renderware game engine.

So I think that actually quite a bit of game development is done using high quality software engineering practices. Especially at companies like Microsoft.

It's just that you hear about the aweful companies more often, because their tragic stories are more interesting.

P.S. I don't know a Josh Palevich, but as far as I know, pretty much all Palevich's in the US are related, if you go back about six generations or so. But we don't really know each other or keep in touch.

John Palevich
Friday, July 26, 2002

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