3D Videogame Programming Specialist Strives for Maximum Efficiency
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Considered working in as a Game Programming Specialist? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect in the position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more.
I am officially the 3D specialist. I do not have an actual title yet. I was just so good in making games 3D that they kind of made a position for me. My actual position is just “programmer,” because I have only been here, both at this company and in the video game industry, for 2 years.
I would describe what I do as programming many 3D elements into a game to make sure that it is compatible with the 3D hardware that is on the market. The work that I do entails research into new hardware technologies and a lot of code manipulation. There is a common misunderstanding that programmers are by the book kind of guys, but programming is really an art. There are always 5 ways to do the same thing; the guy that gets paid the most is the guy that finds the most efficient way.
I would rate my job satisfaction at an 8 out of 10 right now. I would like to expand my responsibilities to include more creative aspects of putting together characters and storytelling. That is what would unleash my full enthusiasm.
This job does move my heart, because I have always had a soft spot for computers and the people that play them; ever since I was a kid, I was playing PC and console video games. I was kind of shy and these games were my best friends for a while. I want to give young gamers today that escape that I had, so yes, I believe that I have found a calling in terms of the industry that I am in.
There is nothing really unique about my situation that readers should know except that I am the most normal person in America. Seriously, I think if you averaged out any statistic you could, from height to disposition to hours spent on the phone, I would be right in the middle of the Bell curve every time.
I got started in this line of work by doing an internship during my junior year in college. If I could change anything, I would have definitely gone back for a second internship in my senior year, but I decided to go out of the country with my family instead.
I learned the hard way that you start on the bottom in this business and you sometimes have to let people steal your ideas. I don’t like this, but sometimes I simply do not get credit for things that I do that make the games better. There are many instances where I should have been credited on a game and I have not been. However, this is normal policy.
The single most important thing that I have learned about the working world is that no one cares about your personal day. You really have to learn how to separate your personal life and your working life because it is all about efficiency at work. I have also learned that people want to be around winners.
I have not really had anything strange happen to me in this job. I’ll let you know if anything strange does happen.
I get up and go to work each day to put a smile on some kid’s face, even though I might never see it. I just know how much a good game can mean to a person. Something that always makes me feel good and proud is when I walk around and I still hear people talking about how good of a game that God of War III was. I just sit there like, “Yeah, I worked on that game, and I feel like a stud right now.”
The challenges that I face are mostly work related right now. I am challenged every day by my own standards and by my bosses to turn out more efficient solutions in a shorter period of time. Sometimes I really want to pull my hair out when one of my bosses, who knows nothing about programming (she comes from marketing) is always over my shoulder egging me to find solutions faster. I just think to myself, “If you are so smart, you do it! You have never coded in your life, have you?”
My job is quite stressful, especially during internal due dates and external release dates. Everybody stays late, but the pressure is always on the programmers to put into code what everybody is screaming about. I do maintain a healthy work / life balance because I play games just as much as I work for them.
A rough salary range for the position that I hold, which is entry level, is anywhere from $25K to $40K. I am paid enough to live, but I think I can make more.
I do not take vacations because I love what I do.
To get into the field of video games, you definitely need a degree in computer engineering or computer programming from a decent school. It also doesn’t hurt to know someone at the companies, otherwise you may have to start out as a beta tester, no matter how good you are.
I would tell a friend considering this line of work to start sucking up to me.
In 5 years, I want to be running the programming department for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.
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