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Old 03-31-2008, 07:10 PM   #1
jasons715
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Default "No jobs. Low pay." Can somebody confirm?

I'm a junior in high school and I'm starting to think more and more about my future. I want to make games, preferably programming them and then possibly having more creative input later on in my career. My parents are definitely OK with this; thankfully they don't see it as a waste... or at least they didn't.

Today my parents were talking with somebody they know who works in some field relating to Computer Science. She's been in Computer Science for 10 years, and her husband programs software. From what my parents are telling me, this lady thinks that there are no jobs in games and they make very little coming out of college ($20,000-$30,000), which counters the research that I've done saying that programmers with under 3 years experience on average make $60,000-$70,000 a year.

I'm considering a game school, specifically DigiPen, but there are concerns about the distance and the cost. I know that many people get into the industry after going to traditional Universities, but I like the hands-on approach and the actual game-making projects that DigiPen offers. I've watched their DVD and read all of the information they've sent me, but the lady that my parents talked to says that they are just painting a "glamorous" picture.

I was hoping to hear your input so I could share it with my parents and get a better idea of what I need to do. I don't want to program software like Microsoft Word or Internet Explorer; I want to make games. My logic and creativity work hand in hand, and I think making games would be the best thing for me. Of course, money will always be an issue, but I also want to be able to go to a job that I will enjoy.

Thanks for your time.
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Old 03-31-2008, 07:36 PM   #2
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If its something you love you will find a way to make it work without money. But I will let Jill answer all the money things since she did the salary survey.
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Old 04-01-2008, 01:52 AM   #3
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Game programmers can indeed make $60K at entry-level. I think even at a low paying company, a programmer should expect to make at the very least $45K to start (except at a start-up, perhaps).

Bear in mind that for programmers in general, this is considered extremely low pay. Programmers in the financial and securities markets easily make $80K or more to start, and frequently pull six-digit salaries after a few years in the trade. If you want to make money, go into programming for the financial sector. If you want to make games, programming may be your best way in. Of all the jobs in the game industry, programmers are the most in need, hands-down. There is no shortage of jobs.

Point your parents to our Getting Started section. There's a list of Frequently Asked Questions for Parents on there they they might find helpful.

I can't say DigiPen is right for everyone. If you have financial concerns, there are very good state schools in nearly every state. Also, do note that many traditional computer science programs now have a game development course here and there; some even have a complete department.
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Old 04-01-2008, 04:23 AM   #4
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Also consider read this article on Game Schools: http://scientificninja.com/advice/on-game-schools
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Old 04-01-2008, 08:31 AM   #5
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Thanks everybody!
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Old 04-16-2008, 06:04 AM   #6
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The thing to remember is that Games are ganerally "eXtreme Applications". If you know how to program a video game - which needs (complex)graphics, physics, database access, sound, input handling, AI, UI design, file IO, perhaps a scripting interface, network connectivity, and must perform all of these at a high frame rate, in real-time - You can probably write a program to filter company purchase orders.

So even if you can't get a games job, you can still apply for application development roles. The trick then is mostly to convince your interviewer that games are serious programs (the above list usually does the trick).
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Old 04-16-2008, 08:18 PM   #7
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Another thing to note is are you willing to relocate. Unless you live in a hotspot (AKA Seattle) I'm not going to say that jobs are scarce, but they won't come to you. You will have to break free from the parental units and see where you want to go, what you want to do, etc.

Research some companies that make games that make you ask, How'd they do that? Generally those are going to be the most fun programming jobs. Now all this being said, I'm not even in the industry... yet... but I am moving in a short while to get closer to the company in my interests, Bioware.

In short, I suppose I could have just said... research!

Take care, and hope to see your name in the credits soon!
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Old 04-23-2008, 03:33 PM   #8
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Sorry for running off-topic with my response, but would any of you happen to know what sort of programming requirements or previous programming background I should know or learn if I were to make a switch into the finance and securities industry programming?

The pay sounds tempting but I wouldnt mind learning more to broaden my options incase something were to happen
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Old 04-23-2008, 04:37 PM   #9
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I would say a bigger range of languages and technologies (Oracle, SQL database, etc). Experience and knowledge in QA from a programmers perspective (unit tests, black and white box testing etc).

I can't think of much else that would make a major difference.
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Old 04-24-2008, 11:35 AM   #10
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Switch into finance and securities? From game programming? I have 1 word for you... Tools. Tool programming can be very good for practising Non-game programming. My philosophy is "If you have to repeat something more than 5 times, it's worth considering writing a Tool". That doesn't mean that you have to write a tool, but it could be worthwhile. Initially you tend to make tools that only you know how to run, undocumented console apps that take command line arguments etc. Then you move on to the point of thinking "Hey... what if I could write a program so that someone else has to deal with this task?". At which point you move into more informative GUI applications, and start to think about how user-friendly they are and everything else. Gradually over time you get better at making usable apps, apps which will be much more like the sort of thing financial companies may use. All without having to move away from the joyful world of games development.

Baby Steps.
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