Working So Others Can Play

A particular job position of interest to me, is one of a video game programmer. The role of game programmers can be further broken down into lead programmers, and programmers for artificial intelligence, graphics, network, physics, tools or user interface. Programmers finalize the game engine — a video game’s physics. To programmers, a video game consists of numerous lines of code that dictate how the computer should handle everything from the game’s rules to its graphics (Liming, 2011).

Atlanta, to my surprise, has over twenty publisher/developer studios based in the city according to a query on the gamedevmap website. Over half of the studios produce online and mobile games, while less than 25% of them produce traditional (cartridge) games. According to “The Salary Range of a Computer Game Developer,” by Jonathan Bechtel, salaries could range from $69,000 to $102,000 for game developers.

A particular job site I visited was for Hi-rez Studios, located just outside of Atlanta, GA in Alpharetta. The company was established in 2005 to create exceptional online interactive entertainment. At Hi-rez, the position of game programmer requires exceptional C/C++ design and programming skills, 2+ years of software programming experience, a background in math including Linear Algebra and a Bachelor’s degree or greater in Computer Science or similar discipline (Math, Physics, CE or EE). It also requires a problem solver who is team-oriented but self-motivated, who thrives upon change and is comfortable prototyping and working with an iterative development process. A passion for games and strong work ethic are a given.

Preferred skills include experience with Unreal engine, familiarity with unrealscript and the ‘unreal way’ of developing games, experience with Scaleform, animation subsystems, source control and PC/Windows programming. The studio itself boasts a wonderful high-tech space with relaxed atmosphere, commons area for employees and a high-end computer/monitor for each programmer.

After my research, I really started to think about what it would be like, to work as a video game programmer. The role checks all of the boxes on my ‘dream job’ list, except for the unwritten requirement for long hours and overtime. It is definitely still worth considering! In order to apply for a programming position at a video game studio, I would first check my LinkedIn to see if I had anyone in my network, who were connected to people already in the industry. I would prepare recommendation letters and a portfolio, along with submitting a polished resume through the career page’s ‘Apply Now’ link. Please wish me luck if I ever decide to do so!

Work Cited:

Liming, D., Vilorio, D. 2011. Work for Play: Careers in Video Game Development. Occupational Outlook Quarterly. Fall 2011. pp. 2-11. Retrieved from: http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2011/fall/art01.pdf (10/23/2012).

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