In the latest feature for Gamasutra's sister educational site Game Career Guide
, Rockstar Games programmer Steven Messinger outlines the basic steps to becoming a game programmer and breaking into the game industry.
In his introduction, Messinger highlights just what a career in games programming entails:
"The first thing you have to ask yourself is if you would like the lifestyle. While many software engineers are used to working all hours of the day for school, those of you with families may not be so keen to working 6 days a week during crunch or coming home past 9pm on some nights. Game studios have been getting better at paying overtime and not allowing anyone to work 7 days a week but working in the games industry is definitely not your typical 9-5 job.
I personally love the flexibility of being able to come in around 10am and being able to take an hour or so break to hit the gym or go to the beach. As long as I'm getting my work in on time and am getting at least my 8 hours in, most game studios are rather flexible.
Another great aspect of working with games is the sheer variety of work. The programming disciplines include artificial intelligence, graphics, network, tools, gameplay, and is pretty much limitless. As a gameplay programmer I can't begin to tell you how much more exciting it is to test your work as a programmer in the games industry instead of a regular software company. It's the difference of making Saramon kill all of the little hobbits or to have to click on a drop down box repeatedly to make sure it doesn't crash.
Still with me? Great. Now what do you have to do to land the job of your dreams in the game industry?"
You can now read the full Game Career Guide feature
for more of Messinger's tips on education, internships, and interviewing for would-be new programmers (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).