I need to start working on my portfolio and I want to focus on making games, because that's where I hope to work..but I'm afraid I'm walking into a dead-end from an employability aspect. It seems to me that every domain has it's own specific tools and needs (games have Unreal/Unity, frontend has React/Vue etc.) so if my portfolio's just games, I feel like I wouldn't be able to get hired anywhere else. I know game jobs are high competition so I'm worried about the future.

Do portfolios need to be specifically tailored to a certain domain of development in order to get a job, or is just demonstrating that you know how to code well enough?

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    Have you only worked on the applications or did you work also include the back-end of game servers? Backend work seems really universal to me.
    – Helena
    Sep 17 '20 at 16:55
  • I'm still learning so I haven't made anything yet, I just wanted to know before I started whether my plan to focus on a particular type of application was going to bite me later on. But thank you for mentioning the back-end thing, I'll keep that in mind! Sep 17 '20 at 18:08

Speaking from experience:

Getting a "normal" development job after working in games is perfectly possible and actually quite straightforward.

The challenges involved in developing game software (data structures, algorithms, etc.) are basically the same as for making any software. There is no fundamental difference. If there ever was a perception that developing games was "just toys" or "child's play", it has long gone among all but the most obstinately obtuse hiring managers.

Indeed, many hiring managers will recognise the particular performance demands that are common in game development (if something takes 17ms when you click a button in a normal app, no-one will notice or care; if something takes 17ms in a game, you're not hitting your 60fps frame rate) and there is great demand for former game developers in software industries such as finance (faster => make more money), VR, AR, mobile (good performance => low CPU usage => good battery life), AI, self-driving cars, etc. Even outside those high-performance domains, there's no downside to hiring former game devs for some other role.

Of course, every choice comes with consequences, and your first job will tend to shape your career, whatever you choose it to be. Will your game job make it more difficult for you to get a databases job later? Maybe, maybe not. But if you got a databases job instead, would it make it more difficult for you to get into games, or web, or AI, later? Maybe, maybe not.

My recommendation (for whatever it's worth, based on my own anecdotal experience): start off with the job you think you'll love and adjust course later if you need to. For me that was games, and I loved it. But a decade or so later I realised I could get paid 30%+ more doing something outside of games, even if I didn't love it quite as much. For me those were the right choices at those times in my life. Your choices might be different.

In any case, if you do choose games now, there will still be other doors open to you later.


I think holistically every software job shares the same foundations in Algo+Data Structures, OS, core CS topics, and like you said every domain differs based on their tools (Unity for Games, JavaScript for Web, C++ for software). At the end of the day, if you have a solid foundation and some time spent on a tool you can probably have a good chance at entry level jobs if you want to switch domains, but don't expect to immediately be granted senior level if you move from senior game developer to IOS app developer for example unless you can demonstrate the expected level of proficiency. But no I don't think purely focusing on game development will barr you from other jobs, and this depends for example if you worked on or near the game engine or if you just did surface level design and art. The technical skills can transfer over.

  • This is not necessarily true. Some is very different. Find me a game (not mmorpg backend) that makes heavy use of large databases. Hint: NONE. Find me a business software (outside of CAD and games related things) that makes heavy use of graphics assets and 3d mathematics. Games and Business level software in general (with exceptions) have VERY little common ground outside the programming langauges.
    – TomTom
    Sep 17 '20 at 14:52
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    @TomTom - "find me an example of X, but you're not allowed to use any of these things that all exemplify X" - yeah, that's intellectually dishonest. You can't say "NONE" is the answer when you've already had to exclude all the many, many examples that would satisfy the demand and show that it is not "NONE". And you're still wrong anyway! Every social/mobile game nowadays will have a database backend, and they're not MMORPGs. AR, self-driving cars, and visualisation tools all use graphics and 3D maths. You basically seem to be thinking of accounting software only. Why? Most software isn't that. Sep 17 '20 at 23:50

Do portfolios need to be specifically tailored to a certain domain of development in order to get a job, or is just demonstrating that you know how to code well enough?

As we say here repeatedly: Your resume should be tailored for each job you intend to apply for, so your chances of landing an offer are maximized.

Of course, you can mention other things, but you should focus and give more importance to the tools and knowledge you have that directly relate to the job you seek.

So yes, do tailor your resume when applying to make the relevant and related experience you have on the topic stand out.

Regarding a portfolio, you have more leeway there. You can include diverse projects you've worked on, but in practice when applying you should (1) tailor your resume for the job as already mentioned and (2) if thinking of linking them to your portfolio make sure you point them to the projects you've done that relate to the job.

To answer your question in another way: If you only have experience in game developing, and wish to get another kind of job, you will have more chances of landing a junior or entry level job than immediately getting a senior or higher position.


Do portfolios need to be specifically tailored to a certain domain of development in order to get a job, or is just demonstrating that you know how to code well enough?

Every position has job-specific requirements, but no domain is a complete dead end.

When changing domains, you may need to drop back a level (say from Senior to Junior), but overall work experience will always be a plus on your side.

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