8 year old gets advice about game industry

(Locked)

90 Human Paladin
8925
Time to turn on my 3d max design program again.
90 Blood Elf Hunter
9015
Sounds like that boy knows what his passion is, which is fantastic! If you work in something that you are passionate about, it doesn't feel like work =).

I wrote my first program (in BASIC) when I was 7 years old on a computer with a 3.0Mhz computer. Now, hrmhrm years later, I work as a software engineer and love it!

My suggestion would be to expose him to some programming languages. Python is a fairly simple but power language (reminds me a bit of my BASIC days =). JavaScript and PHP are good languages to work on, but, off the top of my head, I don't know of any simple ways to run code on those without running a web server.

However, Microsoft has a lot of great (free!) software for students. Some of it may be a bit overwhemling for an 8 year old, but checkout www.dreamspark.com. Simply by registering an account there, you can get access to Kodu Game Labs, Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio, and the Express editions of Visual Studio. These are some great tools for learning how to develop not just games but software in general. If you can verify that your boy is a student (once he's in high school, anyway), it opens up more possibilities. But these initial items should be plenty to whet his appetite for several years (at least!).
Edited by Aieny on 1/10/2013 10:46 AM PST
90 Human Death Knight
13335
Well, I suppose I thought I'd chime with a question, as well.

I'm 24, and my work history is all totally unrelated to Gaming, even though I've grown up with a huge interest in the industry (beyond just the games themselves). I'm recently in the process of making a total career-shift, and honestly, something in the Gaming-industry is the only thing that I feel truly passionate about (despite some concerns how competitive the market probably is).

I've always had a strong interest in Art and in Writing, and in fact had original gone to school for Journalism. Is that a kind of skill-set that Developers really would really look for? Or do those kinds of openings tend to be few-and-far-between?

Like I said, I'm looking to make a major career-change anyway, but I don't want to wind up walking into a field with no realistic opportunity, either. Just curious how things stand in that regard?
90 Blood Elf Priest
10685
As a teacher, I see bad parenting constantly. The children's behaviors and disrespect, the parent's coming in to argue, children not having homework completed or even do the classwork. I was observing a 2nd grade class, and they all stated they play Call of Duty. Now I haven't played that game but from my understanding it is not appropriate for kids. I was just appalled.

My children have always had a homeschool routine since they were 2 and 3. Reading, art, tidbits of science games, and wiggle time. Although my parents did not value education, I go to school for Business management (2 months to go) My children are A B students and I accept nothing less. I know the importance of education and intend to change our educational system. One size does not fit all. I feel supporting my children's goals is also important. Yes, I know my son will change is mind about what he wants to be when he grows up, I will support him, and educate him on anything he chooses as a goal.
Edited by Aayia on 1/10/2013 11:38 AM PST
90 Human Paladin
8670
01/10/2013 11:22 AMPosted by Aayia
I was observing a 2nd grade class, and they all stated they play Call of Duty. Now I haven't played that game but from my understanding it is not appropriate for kids. I was just appalled.

I've played worse since I was kindergarten age and I'm not shooting up any schools.

Hi Aayia,

Peratryn offers some great advice, and I can elaborate on it. I do know a ton about what the different game teams here look for, and I’m happy to share.

Most everything that follows is relevant to game design specifically. If your son (or anyone reading this) is interested in a career as a game programmer or artist, the path may be slightly different. Above all, know that this is a relatively young career, and people take a lot of different paths to get here. The bad news is it can be fairly competitive. It’s a great job and there are a lot of gamers out there who are dying to break into it. The good news is that the industry continues to grow, so there are new opportunities available and by the time your son is old enough to get a job, there should be even more, economy willing.

I’ll talk first about education. At this point in time, there are a few college degrees in game development. Most of these programs are still fairly young and I don’t know many professional designers with those degrees. Yet. This is not at all to disparage those programs (personally I think it’s awesome to watch them grow), but to point out you don’t need a game design degree and most designers don’t have them. In fact, there isn’t a “wrong” college degree to pursue for game design. We have several designers who have computer science degrees, but it varies enormously. We have designers with backgrounds in art, economics, writing, math, law and of course science. The only common thread is that communication skills are really important in game design, because a big part of the job is explaining your designs and otherwise collaborating with a team.

Next comes experience. You need some kind of experience to get a job in game design. Playing a lot of games does count as experience, but it’s the kind of thing that’s hard for us to test. You’re better off playing a lot of games and doing something else as well. Career experience as a professional game designer is of course the most desirable. Blizzard is in a position where we can afford to be really picky about who we hire so we often look for prior experience. I will quickly add that plenty of our designers didn’t have any, but it helps a lot. Less established companies are more likely to give a beginner a shot, and once you have some experience, you’ll have a lot more options. If you can’t get a job as a game designer, you can try to get a job in a game company and hope to move sideways into game design. We have several designers who worked in quality assurance and customer service. You just have to get your foot in the door.

If you can’t get a job in the game industry there are still several options. The first is to be a very good, perhaps even professional, game player, but that can be even harder than getting into game development in the first place. Not all great game players are great designers, but it’s the kind of thing that may score you an interview. The second is to design your own game. That is easier than ever in this day of mobile devices, but still not a trivial feat you can throw together on a weekend. This next part is important: we like to see completed games because it shows you can finish something. One of the dark secrets of game design is that good ideas are cheap. Nobody gets hired because they had a great idea for a class ability or a raid encounter let alone a great idea for a game. They get hired because they can take those ideas to the next level, foresee problems, come up with solutions, and otherwise put in all of the hard implementation work long after the shininess has worn off of the original idea. If you can’t build an actual game, then the third thing you can try is to create an add-on, level or some other additional content for an existing game. Finishing that project isn’t as impressive as finishing an actual game, but it can still work. (This is how I got my foot in the door – I designed a scenario for Age of Empires that was eventually included in a shipping product.) Fourth is to be involved in the game community. You can host an awesome fansite, write a gaming blog, or make your own podcast. It might not illustrate your design cred, but it can get you noticed. If all else fails, try to be involved in beta testing. It’s tricky but possible to detect a good design sense from beta feedback. In all of these cases, what you’re trying to do is to develop a portfolio – something you can send to a company to show your chops. Artists can show their art. Programmers can submit sample code. A designer needs to somehow prove that he or she can design.

If you want to be a game designer, you’ll do more than just make games – you will be a member of the game-making industry. Try and keep up with industry news. Understand the upcoming platforms and the hot new genres and technology everyone is talking about. This is much easier in the internet age than it was a dozen years ago. It’s not always feasible, but attending game conventions can help. Companies often use those events for recruiting and you can ask a lot of questions and get a lot of information once you’re talking to someone face-to-face. Advice I give for anyone in any industry to get a job is networking. We are much more likely to go to bat for a candidate we know, especially if we have some idea of their design skills. This doesn’t mean cold-calling or emailing folks in the industry – that risks just annoying them. It’s not easy to get to know people, but it can open doors. Here is where being a game journalist, famous player, or website designer can come into play.

Keep in mind that game studios are businesses. They have budgets and headcounts like any company. To get a job, you’re generally going to be applying for an existing open position. It takes the truly one-in-a-million candidate that can get a position created for them. Don’t blanket email companies; I don’t think I’ve ever seen that tactic work. Apply for specific positions, and if none are available, consider contacting the company HR representative to inquire if some might open in the future. That HR rep can be your greatest advocate, so don’t badger him or her. We have hired people who had off-and-on email conversations with our human resources team members for years before the right position came along.

That’s the hard part. The fun part is playing a lot of games. Don’t just play them though – devour them. Understand why they’re fun. Think about what you’d change if you designed the game. One question we frequently ask in interviews is: what is the worst part of your favorite game and how would you fix it? One of the quickest ways to fail an interview for the WoW team is when we ask “What would you change about WoW?” to answer “Gee, I hadn’t really thought about that before.”

I’ll close this monologue by talking about some of the traits that Blizzard looks for in game designers; other companies may place values on different traits.

A good design sense. Analyze systems as a game designer, not just a player. A player might look for the most efficient way to progress through a game or search for the most powerful choices for their character. A designer understands why a certain way is more powerful or efficient and if that’s even a good thing for the game (and again, how to fix it).
Creativity. This is less important than a lot of folks outside the industry think, but it’s still important. Creative problem solving is often more important than creativity in naming creatures or coming up with good stories.
Implementation. We spend 5% of our time brainstorming and 95% of the time sitting at a keyboard trying to get things to work. (We use our own proprietary tools, but also a lot of Photoshop, Excel and Visio.) We want people who can handle bugs, manage their time, solve roadblocks, survive pressure, handle critical feedback, know when to quit and when to soldier on, and overall just not get distracted. This is one reason why seeing finished work in a resume is so valuable.
Communication. As I said, we talk to each other, other members on the team, other people at Blizzard, and the community of players. Constantly. Designers need to be able to think on their feet, criticize ideas without causing hurt feelings, accept feedback, and understand what other people are saying. The best designers make you feel like you are being heard. We do have introverts on our staff, but it’s probably more challenging for them.
Passion. This is probably the easiest one. It’s important though. You need to love games to do this job. I’m not sure what the most surefire career is for making millions, but this isn’t it. You’ll be asked to work long hours. You’ll be asked to playtest a game long after you’re sick of it. You’ll be expected to play new games as they come out to see what you can learn from them. You’ll be asked to cut your favorite feature. Passion for games is the reason most people want to get into the industry in the first place though, so you’re probably fine here.

I hope that’s helpful. It’s a good gig if you can get it. I walked away from a previous career in another field and never looked back. The biggest challenge for folks breaking into the industry is making themselves stand out. Saying “I love games” is important, but it’s not enough, because thousands of players will say the same thing. You have to demonstrate that you love games *and* know how to make them without actually being able to talk to anyone, because you haven’t gotten the interview yet. I invite anyone who makes it to let me know so I can personally congratulate them. It’s hard and it’s worth it.


My desire to become some sort of engineer has been lessened ever so slightly.

Awesome read, Sir Greg Street.
Edited by Emberstone on 1/10/2013 11:36 AM PST
90 Troll Druid
RoC
4865
So happy that ridiculous threads like this get attention while the real issues go without input.

No wonder there are so many cynics in this game.
You'd be lying to say he didn't have a point.
90 Troll Mage
12310
Recommend following GDConf[dot]com

GDC - Game Developer's Conference.
(maybe too techincal)

Recommend reading about (or knowing about)--


  • Shigeru Miyamoto - Needs no introduction. Mario, Legend of Zelda
  • John D. Carmack, John Romero - men behind Doom, Quake
  • Michael Abrash - game programmer/writer of "Graphics Programming Black Book"
  • Hironobu Sakaguchi - Final Fantasy series
  • Sid Meier - Civilization series
  • Jeff Kaplan, Greg Street, Tom Chilton, Rob Pardo - Blizzard's own
  • Mike Morhaime (Silicon & Synapse)
  • Don Daglow - Neverwinter Nights
  • Richard Garriott - Ultima Online
  • Drs. Greg Zeschuk, Ray Muzyka - Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age, KOTOR, Mass Effect
  • Yuji Naka - Sonic, the hedgehog
  • Alexey Pajitnov - Tetris


Most of these guys are legends in the gaming industry. And their backgrounds further emphasizes GC's point on -- "game designers can come from any back ground".
90 Blood Elf Priest
10685
Awesome!!

I have taken notes on the website suggestions, and pre-screened them. Now I have to break the information down to an 8 year old level.

I can't remember if I mentioned it here, but my son was jumping up and down when he got a response from GC. Then he asked me to google him. He was mentioned on the 1st 3 pages and now he thinks he's famous. He is being too cute.
90 Night Elf Hunter
11250
01/10/2013 04:07 PMPosted by Aayia
I can't remember if I mentioned it here, but my son was jumping up and down when he got a response from GC. Then he asked me to google him. He was mentioned on the 1st 3 pages and now he thinks he's famous. He is being too cute.


He is famous...:) We've had Red Shirt Guy, Ephoenix, Leroy, and now Alex.

I expect we will see a bright young NPC lad appear in game somewhere, in 5.2.
- Hearthstone
90 Tauren Paladin
12275
Very impressive, forum mods. I read through all 9 pages and not a single troll, flamebait, or general player filth, although I did miss some that people quoted.

I wish your son luck, OP.
90 Night Elf Druid
10775
Great post, great post.
90 Goblin Shaman
9310
As a teacher, I see bad parenting constantly. The children's behaviors and disrespect, the parent's coming in to argue, children not having homework completed or even do the classwork. I was observing a 2nd grade class, and they all stated they play Call of Duty. Now I haven't played that game but from my understanding it is not appropriate for kids. I was just appalled.

My children have always had a homeschool routine since they were 2 and 3. Reading, art, tidbits of science games, and wiggle time. Although my parents did not value education, I go to school for Business management (2 months to go) My children are A B students and I accept nothing less. I know the importance of education and intend to change our educational system. One size does not fit all. I feel supporting my children's goals is also important. Yes, I know my son will change is mind about what he wants to be when he grows up, I will support him, and educate him on anything he chooses as a goal.


In all my jobs, I've never needed to deal with people, yet the lack of 'quality' parents seems quite serious. People more into owning a kid, than raising one.

And while I understand the difference between a 'home school routine' and being home schooled itself, I was home schooled. :D
90 Draenei Shaman
13350
In all my jobs, I've never needed to deal with people, yet the lack of 'quality' parents seems quite serious. People more into owning a kid, than raising one.

And while I understand the difference between a 'home school routine' and being home schooled itself, I was home schooled. :D


I help manage a store, and see a lot of shocking behaviour, and I feel a lot of it is the residue of that damn indigo child movement. There are a lot of bright young minds going to waste thanks to parents who think their precious should get everything on a shiny platter and a general idea that intellectual = snobs.
90 Undead Warlock
0
There's been quite a few articals lately in PC Gamer magazine about game design and schools for it, if you feel like trying to get your hands on some back issues (all in the past six months or so)
This topic is locked.

Please report any Code of Conduct violations, including:

Threats of violence. We take these seriously and will alert the proper authorities.

Posts containing personal information about other players. This includes physical addresses, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and inappropriate photos and/or videos.

Harassing or discriminatory language. This will not be tolerated.

Forums Code of Conduct

Report Post # written by

Reason
Explain (256 characters max)
Submit Cancel

Reported!

[Close]