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Getting into the industry

Last response: in Video Games
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September 13, 2010 2:37:35 PM

I'm taking a computer science degree and read a lot about programming. It seems to have quite a bit of negativity about it. Here are some things I would like clarified by those in the field:

- computer science, programmers, is a job that is not good for security and older programmers are often replaced by cheaper less experienced programmers.

Is this true? I find it hard to believe that if I was hired by a gaming company to code, all of a sudden 15 years down the line when I'm 45-50 I'm somehow obselete and would be considered to be replaced by some young guy so they can pay him half of what I'd be making at the time.

- programmer jobs are being outsourced, leaving many without work.
All this talk about jobs going overseas, what is the real deal here. Is it really that bad? My father seems to think that if it's true it would be just the low paying programmer jobs that are more along the lines of very repetitive and simple programming. I don't know any game companies located on american soil who hire a india company to code their games.

This has me concerned, but I find it hard to believe despite the high popularity of these types of complaints by people in various programming forums.

One big reason I find it hard to believe is because I'm located in a city that has Ubisoft, EA, Bioware, Eidos, Warner Bros, THQ and A2M. These are big companies, and Warner Bros just installed themselves here and Ubisoft just a few years back. There is no way these big companies would be coming here if for some reason all the programming if going overseas.

For those in the field, please share your thoughts.

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September 13, 2010 5:58:25 PM


- computer science, programmers, is a job that is not good for security and older programmers are often replaced by cheaper less experienced programmers.

my answer would be to diversify yourself. Don't learn to do just 1 thing or just 1 programming language. If you are new learn 1 language really good, then take on another and then another.
Then as you are climbing up the ladder learn to live at your means. Meaning if you start out at $50K and then get a salary boost to $75K....still live at $50K. So when you loose that $75K salary you can compete with a newb programmer at a competitive salary. Company's are look for cost and experience, you can provide them high quality without braking their budget then you will always be marketable.

However, don't sell yourself short. If the job is a $75K job don't ask for $50. Just learn to live at $50.
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September 13, 2010 11:36:15 PM

So my fears are true then that the computer programming field is a career in which there is a good chance companies will look to hire someone new for cheaper rather than keep you and give you a raise? This isn't good, what options are there for these guys in this career then? What do they do when they reach this point?
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September 14, 2010 12:50:11 PM

My advice: Learn to THINK. I've run into people who are genius' at coding in C/Assembly, but couldn't design code from scratch to save their lives, or have no clue how to do anything outside of their language of choice.

Learn how to actually program, how to design a program. Heck, learn some basic Assembly, just to appriciate how the hardware actually works [Trust me, knowing how i = 2 + 3 works, and how branching works, actually gives a lot of insight into how to program.] Likewise, feel free to offer up ideas, but as you come up with them, understand what type of work is actually involved.

I shyed away from the industry, simply due to "Crunch time" concerns [that, and I'm fundamentally opposed to releasing things before they are ready, so me and management probably wouldn't mesh well...except at 3d Relms, of course :p ]. Still, I can look at any game, and understand HOW they operate, and can generally guess where bugs can be found. Thats a skill you should start to develop: When you see a bug of any type, think of WHY that bug occured.

I also advice looking at some open source software; enough games are sourced now (especailly some of the less supported older stuff), and start looking at specific modules. Try and learn how the game in question is structured [keep in mind, it could be REALLY badly; I've seen best sellers that are a mess as far as coding goes...], and ask WHY the structure is the way it is.
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September 14, 2010 4:51:03 PM

Quote:
So my fears are true then that the computer programming field is a career in which there is a good chance companies will look to hire someone new for cheaper rather than keep you and give you a raise? This isn't good, what options are there for these guys in this career then? What do they do when they reach this point?


Pretty much this is any field. Companies will give you raises but their will be a cap and when the money gets tight some of the first people to go are the ones who have high salaries that are replaceable. Don't look at this in the negative light but as a challenge to continue improving and diversifying your skill set.

Think of a bagger at a grocery store, after 5 years that person can make lets say $15hr. All they know is bagging. Economy hits and that person is the first to go. Why? because they can pay someone new $5 to bag groceries. However, if that person learned how to stock items, run the cash register, gets additional education about store management that person might take over a management job or go to another company and use those skills there.

You can apply this to programming. If you only learn C over the next 5 years without learning new concepts or languages you won't be very marketable over a person who has a degree, knows C, C++, C#, Assebly, Fortran etc...
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September 14, 2010 6:31:49 PM

jgiron said:
Quote:
So my fears are true then that the computer programming field is a career in which there is a good chance companies will look to hire someone new for cheaper rather than keep you and give you a raise? This isn't good, what options are there for these guys in this career then? What do they do when they reach this point?


Pretty much this is any field. Companies will give you raises but their will be a cap and when the money gets tight some of the first people to go are the ones who have high salaries that are replaceable. Don't look at this in the negative light but as a challenge to continue improving and diversifying your skill set.

Think of a bagger at a grocery store, after 5 years that person can make lets say $15hr. All they know is bagging. Economy hits and that person is the first to go. Why? because they can pay someone new $5 to bag groceries. However, if that person learned how to stock items, run the cash register, gets additional education about store management that person might take over a management job or go to another company and use those skills there.

You can apply this to programming. If you only learn C over the next 5 years without learning new concepts or languages you won't be very marketable over a person who has a degree, knows C, C++, C#, Assebly, Fortran etc...


Right. I agree with everything you say, however my fear really revolves around some things I've read that would say the older you get as a programmer the less attractive you become as opposed to say doctor, finance, lawyer, etc.

I hope the articles I've read that stated this are wrong in someway because that scares me to be honest. It doesn't make sense that a 20 yr vet programmer is somehow not as attractive to companies. I always thought companies would fire the weakest programmers over the more experienced and higher paid ones.
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September 15, 2010 1:44:16 PM

^^ "Higher Paid". Its not about efficency, its about MONEY.

When you get employeed, you'll understand that 90% of people just muddle along; its the other 10% that are perfectly secure.
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September 16, 2010 1:51:38 PM

So if I understand, you want to use your programming skills to build game engines, scripts, etc. for video games right? If so, your career might look a little more like the life of consultant. Games are projects that end after a short life...unless you're lucky enough to be working for a game like Diablo take take many years to complete. The publishers you have listed hire companies to do their games and yes, there is a lot of outsourcing for smaller things. Finally, there's a lot more companies that help in the process of creating a game than most people think. For instance, I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and I was the Game Development Manager for a company that had 6 programmers. Our company simply helped publishers achieve their deadlines by providing assistance in building their engine and other scripts (i.e. NFS Underground 1 & 2, Far Cry 2, etc.). However, just in Ottawa, there are about 100-150 companies like us that do about the same thing. In more popular places like Montreal or Vancouver, there are a lot more companies as such. Now imagine the # of companies in California.

By the time you're 50 yrs old, you probably won't want to deal with the stress and pressure you get from bigger companies and might opt to get one of many other programming job out there (who knows, they might pay much better). Finally, take Ubisoft for example...they maybe 5% of their games are Triple A...so really, would you sacrifice salary to program for a game like Pets, America's top model (the game), most Wii titles or any other crappy titles?

You'll be able to use your programming skills...so don't worry about being unemployed (unintentionally at least). Good luck with your degree.

Cheers,

Alex

Cheers,

Alex
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