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Thread: Odds of getting a job in the video game field with a BA in Computer Sciences?

  1. #1

    Default Odds of getting a job in the video game field with a BA in Computer Sciences?

    So I was reading kotaku today and I came across this.
    How A "Worthless" Degree Robbed A Stripper Of Her Video Game Love

    I'm currently studying a degree in Computer Sciences. And many of the people who graduate from this field find jobs in many private companies and what not., some have even gotten jobs by nasa and MS. So finding a job wouldn't be to difficulty after I do internships and what not. But my dream is to at least make a video game. There is no video game design degree yet (just recently got approved in the college and I might double major in that also. But yeah so far I'm going to start my third year of college On Monday and I've learned Visual Basic and C++ pretty well (gotten up to OOP and Database theories with linked list and hash tables and what not. i'm still missing a couple of important classes such as Assembly Language (start this semester) among many others like Operating Systems and Software Engineering and a bunch of other stuff.


    My main worry is finding a job in the video game field.... with what I know what is the likely hood? I'm not into the art side much... more like into making it work.... I'd like video game design but I don't have any skills to draw or anything really. So mainly I don't want to be stuck with a job in some dusty room programming bleh.... I want to work with video games. I'm really hoping for Media Molecule but that's a pipe dream... so overall I'd just like some advice from other guys who have graduated and gotten jobs? I'm aware my college isn't world renowned and that people from other colleges will wipe my ass in the job field so that's another thing I'm worrying about. So yeah.... Just tell it to me straight... will I ever find a job with a BA in Computer Sciences in the Video game field? Cuz right now doesn't seem like it, It's my dream to make video games and I've decided if I can't get a job with someone I'll make my own damn games. I'm not really in it for the money just it's been my childhood dream ya know? Like many other people, Look I don't know what exactly is going on... in the business world or how far I can get with a BA in CS but I don't want to be stuck making shovel wear or just doing nothing video game related.... Just shoot down my dreams of give me a smack of reality or something.... I'm missing 2 years of this and need to know what to expect....


    Note: I just copy and pasted this post from gamefaqs.... So it might not make a lot of overall sense.... But yeah I'm just really worried about this and would like someone to either A. Smack my face or B. Reassure me. or C

    Overall Just general advice (BTW I do know that I won't get a job in video games right off the bat. I know That very well...)


    UPDATE: Well thanks to all the people and thier advice. I've decided that my best course of action is opening an indie company while I work in a day job. ^^ It seems very viable in this day and age.
    Last edited by Peachy; 16-Dec-2010 at 18:57. Reason: removing content upon user request

  2. #2

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    Pretty unlikely to happen without already having a long resume, possibly some personal work to show off.

    Game companies don't have job openings often, and when they do, they are incredibly competitive. Your best bet with only a BA in CS (what I'm like 10 credits...and $70,000 away from getting...) in this field would be a very small, independent company. Basically, making either shovelware or a title that fifteen people will hear, of, ever (including the design team).

    Experience in this (and stories from others) has taught me that it's best to keep what you truly love doing as a hobby, rather than an occupation. If you really love making games - do it as a hobby. Don't get involved in it as an occupation - find another CS-related job.

  3. #3

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    So here is the deal, there are not a lot of jobs in game software dev. Not to discourage you, but the competition is fierce, and skills are not enough. A degree in video games is a waste. Most of them are expensive diploma mills and will get you nowhere, and the only thing they really can give you a heads up on is contacts, which is a gamble at most.

    First you need to know the kind of programming you want to do. Positions are far more specialized than just game programming. Do you want to do graphics, engines, AI, automation etc. Find out what you want to do, and the answer can not be "all of them." If you decide you like AI then take every single class you can focused on AI and algorithms. Try and get some graduate level courses in. During all of this you should be making games. They do not have to be complex. It is all about getting yourself into the community so you can be noticed, and having a concrete product to show that you can indeed code an AI. For example I am honing in on UI and integration because I realize I really like doing UI's. I can do other stuff, but there are only so many hours in a day so being really good at one thing helps pay the bills.

    A BA in CS won't stop you from getting a job. The thing is you are either going to need a background with projects worked on or you are going to have to do your time in some edutainment company for crap pay.

    A CS or CSE is the way to go if you want to do this, but it is important you focus your studies as much as you can. It would be silly to waist all your time learning how to optimize for data structures if in the end you want to work on pathing.

    The real big thing though is contacts. I have worked with a number of guys coming from or in games, and the one commonality among all of them though was contacts, and most of them got their first contacts working on personal projects and showing them off. Dude A made a flash game and dude B was really impressed and had a junior position for a graphical effects programmer open so he offered Dude A a job. I know a lot of guys doing art that I am far better than, but they got the connection to get them into their current position. None of them really applied in the traditional sense.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Draugr View Post
    Pretty unlikely to happen without already having a long resume, possibly some personal work to show off.

    Game companies don't have job openings often, and when they do, they are incredibly competitive. Your best bet with only a BA in CS (what I'm like 10 credits...and $70,000 away from getting...) in this field would be a very small, independent company. Basically, making either shovelware or a title that fifteen people will hear, of, ever (including the design team).

    Experience in this (and stories from others) has taught me that it's best to keep what you truly love doing as a hobby, rather than an occupation. If you really love making games - do it as a hobby. Don't get involved in it as an occupation - find another CS-related job.

    ^ this

    the trouble is, a lot of people go into degrees thinking they'll be able to come out doing their dream job, but this is never the case. I almost ended up going for a Graphic Design degree (this would have ended up in me working either freelance and having a calender basically full of Mondays or ending up working back in the jobs I'd been working in before the degree) before seeing sense and going for chemistry. I'm just lucky that I also discovered that I really like Chemistry too, to be honest. I might end up doing inorganic chemistry (which I dislike, my ideal field would be pharmacological biochemistry or psychopharmacology) but I wouldn't mind.

    The computer science field is quite oversubscribed the last time I remember, and if you solely went into it wanting to do games design then this is probably going to be a bit of a nasty wakeup call. If you do want to design games the best thing is to start it off as a hobbyist, by either getting GameMaker (and being fucked over by SoftWrap) or by trying out Sciarra's Construct (most promising tool for mainly 2d games imo, still has yet to hit version 1.0 but I'm staying with it). I have an ex-housemate who took a degree in CompSci and works in videogaming and he's always working on small indie games for mobile phones and other such things but the trouble is he's always out of work because these small videogame houses end up folding or going bankrupt. Game design isn't a stable job.

    What I got told about degrees is that it's important to put food on the table first, and THEN think about putting your hobbies on the table next.

    Your best bet for getting a video game job would be to work more on the programming side of things, and also to build up networking with people as frillyfoxy said. If needs be you might have to work in a different computer-related avuenue of things before being lucky enough to get a job in game design. Since it's quite a packed field, you're going to also have to work dead hard and stand out above others and build quite a portfolio.

    It sucks, but welcome to the world of grad work.


    edit: on watching the video I'm not surprised no-one wants to hire her, to be very blunt her portfolio is awfully generic and really doesn't stand out in any way at all.

  5. #5

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    Should be noted she got her degree from a for-profit school: means her degree is essentially worthless. Don't go to any school you see being advertised on late night tv.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Damon Gant View Post
    edit: on watching the video I'm not surprised no-one wants to hire her, to be very blunt her portfolio is awfully generic and really doesn't stand out in any way at all.
    My god, I didn't even watch the video. I just, dear lord. Her portfolio is bloated, the examples are all horrible I just could go on. I made better designs 10 years ago, when I was a teenager, with no education, and I could model and texture them. That video makes me sad.

    Here is the thing, games isn't strictly about talent. Don't get me wrong, if you are ultra talented you will do well, but the fact is most people are not that talented. The games industry has plenty of mediocre workers. The real problem is the industry is very small so you have to fight to get a job. In general business something like 70% of all jobs are never posted(I have seen a lot of stats for this, but it is always 50%+), they are direct hires, referral hires etc. The game industry makes that percentage look small.

    The down side is it is hard to get in. Most jobs never hit the want ads or hiring agencies. The up side is after a couple projects you will be able to find work regularly unless you piss someone off. As mentioned, work is not stable. This is in no way limited to small time developers. Most developers will lay of the majority of their workers after a project. A 10 year vet will be on a 2-3 year layoff cycle. A lot of people will be rehired on a new project if it is a big enough dev, but the thing is you don't need the same number of developers or artists 1 month in as you do 6 months in or a year in, so some people have to move on. If you are ever wanting to settle down then forget about it. I know guys who have worked in 3 countries in just as many years to keep in the industry. They could always find work mind you, it just was not often where they wanted it to be.

    A CS, or even better a CSE degree is still worthwhile. You can always find programming work. Companies you never thought of having developers have them. Every company needs some one to work on or maintain internal apps and systems. Most will have a mixture of code janitors and some developers. Plus, much like engineering, it is seen as a good general degree for any technical work.

  7. #7

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    Ah So... I should just give up on my dreams of Video game Programming then eh? I still love programming wouldn't mind working for other companies but my dream is to make video games...

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by dragsnick View Post
    Note: I just copy and pasted this post from gamefaqs.... So it might not make a lot of overall sense.... But yeah I'm just really worried about this and would like someone to either A. Smack my face or B. Reassure me. or C

    Overall Just general advice (BTW I do know that I won't get a job in video games right off the bat. I know That very well...

    LOL, your going to get trolled on "gamefags" as I like to call the place even if you posted in the PC section. Anyways yesterday I was looking at what kind of jobs Valve (makers of Half Life, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Portal, etc) have open. Some of the slots require 3 years experience or a degree require 3 years of industry work.

    Valve

    But, valve is a small company t least for being a multimillion dollar developer and publisher. I can only assume competition for getting into ant of the major companies will be fierce.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fire2box View Post
    LOL, your going to get trolled on "gamefags" as I like to call the place even if you posted in the PC section. Anyways yesterday I was looking at what kind of jobs Valve (makers of Half Life, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Portal, etc) have open. Some of the slots require 3 years experience or a degree require 3 years of industry work.

    Valve

    But, valve is a small company t least for being a multimillion dollar developer and publisher. I can only assume competition for getting into ant of the major companies will be fierce.
    Yeah I actually went deeper into the Programming boards. I've actually gotten help with some homework there ya know? Plus Gamefaqs isn't all bad. Some guy actually sent me Diablo 1 for free.... on a whim... I was like seriously? Overall they are good people everywhere. But I've been on gamefaqs for 6 years I know a thing or two about it.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by dragsnick View Post
    Ah So... I should just give up on my dreams of Video game Programming then eh? I still love programming wouldn't mind working for other companies but my dream is to make video games...
    Not so much give up as don't have great expectations for it. If it happens, awesome, if not be prepared to enjoy regular programming. The games industry is like working in any entertainment field, the competition is fierce, connections rule all, and you will probably start out as slave labor.



    Quote Originally Posted by Fire2box View Post
    LOL, your going to get trolled on "gamefags" as I like to call the place even if you posted in the PC section. Anyways yesterday I was looking at what kind of jobs Valve (makers of Half Life, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Portal, etc) have open. Some of the slots require 3 years experience or a degree require 3 years of industry work.

    Valve

    But, valve is a small company t least for being a multimillion dollar developer and publisher. I can only assume competition for getting into ant of the major companies will be fierce.
    Valve runs steam, they are a surprisingly big company, and their competition is fierce. They might not be EA, but then again EA doesn't make games. Valve tends to hire industry vets almost exclusively in art. I have known a number of artists working there since they are based here, and even the ones working junior positions where some of the most talented artists I had seen. It is actually easier to get involved with a lot of the larger companies because they will work under their publishers umbrella, and often use said publisher to hire temporary employees and crunch labor to deal with SDET type stuff. I know a couple of guys doing work for Bungie, but they are actually working for Microsoft.

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