I am currently working as a game developer. I am a recent grad (only graduated from university 2 years ago) and I seem to be in over my head. I did not even look for this job they found me on LinkedIn and I was desperate.

I started out at the company as a QA/maintenance programmer due to my lack of experience. However, in the past year the company has grown a lot and now I'm expected to produce production-quality games in 3-month intervals. While I am certainly capable of it - I'm just not interested in the rapid development cycles and the incessant sense of urgency. I was wanting a position where I can also have a day a week where it's not so insane. I just don't have the energy to pour my guts into work day in and day out - I have other responsibilities.

Unfortunately because I have a degree in Physics and Math as well as a computer programming diploma employers assume I'm a lot more capable and intelligent than I really am. Or perhaps the incessant push to get projects done is wearing me out but it's what the company needs right now.

How would you deal with the situation? I'm not a senior dev, I've only been at this for less than a year and they expect me to act like one. What should I look for in my next job? I feel discouraged and loss of confidence due to the work environment. Being the only female doesn't help either.

  • 4
    It sounds as though you might've found a dodgey gamedev place who just wants to take advantage of you. This is not uncommon within the industry.
    – Telastyn
    Mar 12 '15 at 18:06
  • 6
    Game industry is brutal and your environment is not likely to let up.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 12 '15 at 18:15
  • 5
    Also, if you're able to churn out a production ready game in 3 months on your own (I don't care how simple, or what framework you're using), you're easily a senior level developer compared to the CRUD app developers that make up the majority of the profession. Be confident!
    – Telastyn
    Mar 12 '15 at 19:03
  • 1
    In general, if you really don't like what you're doing, and if what you're doing is likely to be the same no matter where you go in your industry, it's time to look at changing careers. Maybe some less-demanding form of development (e.g. corporate apps) would be more suited for you.
    – Roger
    Mar 13 '15 at 12:40
  • 2
    You have a degree in physics and math and a comp programming degree as well... I hate to break it to you, but you are smarter/intelligent. This fact does not make you a more experienced (i.e. senior) dev. If they are treating you as one, it is because you have already shown to be capable to be one. As said elsewhere, the pace will not subside. Adapt or look elsewhere.
    – CGCampbell
    Mar 13 '15 at 18:25

The computer game industry is well known for working their people hard (some would say ragged). I have never worked in that industry, but I have known a few people who have and it is pretty universal. So the good news is that they don't have it in for you! The bad news is that it is unlikely to change, even if you go to another game company.

You have three options: 1) make it clear to your boss that you need to slow down. This is unlikely to go over well. Their schedules are not going to change, regardless of your needs. 2) Go back to QA, though I would think that they have the same sort of deadlines that the regular programmers do. I suppose you would at least not feel in over your head. 3) Get a job with a company in a different industry. While few software engineering jobs are easy, many don't have the killer schedules that game companies do.

Good luck.

  • 7
    And if you choose to leave that industry, be aware that start-ups have the same killer (and unproductive but don't get me started on that) schedules. With your math skills the defense industry would be a good bet.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 12 '15 at 18:43
  • 1
    If you don't have a desire to make games which is an all-consuming passion, such that you're willing to work brutal hours for crap pay in poor conditions, then don't work in the games industry. I used to, because I loved games and thought it would be an interesting field. Now I don't, and am a lot happier (and still love playing games). Mar 16 '15 at 6:37
  • 1
    @Carson63000 My experience exactly!
    – phoebus
    Mar 18 '15 at 20:52
  • 1
    @HLGEM, I agree, it is appalling that the game industry continues to have this culture, even though it certainly results in longer times to market, and higher overall costs, as supported by over 80 years of Science. I got out once I realized how bad it was years ago...
    – daaxix
    Apr 10 '15 at 7:06

While I am certainly capable of it - I'm just not interested in the rapid development cycles and the incessant sense of urgency.


Unfortunately because I have a degree in Physics and Math as well as a computer programming diploma employers assume I'm a lot more capable and intelligent than I really am.

What this tells me is that you have actually proven that you are capable of doing what they're asking you to do - and as a result, they've made it your job to do it. When you're hired on, they don't yet have an idea of what you're capable of, and are still trying to orient you to their business cycle. Now that you've been part of the team this long, you're getting a taste for what their real work cycle is like - and it's stressful.

If you feel you can handle that stress, and you like all the other aspects of this job, then say in the job.

If you feel it is a little more stress than you can handle, talk to your supervisor, and find out if there's any way you can make this situation less stressful while still handling your workload. It's possible there's something they can work out with you, or that this is an atypical workload due to a high-demand time in the company.

If you can't work something out, you need to weigh the pros and cons of staying with this company. Consider the following:

  • Am I happy doing the job I am right now?
  • Would I be as happy if I were working for a different company?
  • Do I like this company, and the way they treat their employees?
  • Am I getting paid fairly compared to other people with the same job?
  • Would I be happier in a similar line of work but in a different field?

Carefully consider these things, and do a bit of research in your field to find out how other people in the same line of work. You may find that a corporate business programming company might be better suited for you, or you may find that some game companies are much better at treating their employees well.

In the end, only you can decide if you're happy with this job.

  • 1
    A game company that treats their employees well ? Apart from a tier 1 studio can you please let me know who/ where this is ??? Mar 14 '15 at 0:38
  • 1
    @DamianNikodem Implying that a Tier 1 Studio necessarily treats their employees well? Citation?
    – Zibbobz
    Mar 15 '15 at 20:50
  • that's just an assumption since if a tier 1 studio treated their employees poorly then it would most likely be known Mar 15 '15 at 21:36
  • @DamianNikodem Of course. Why else would you assume they're treating them poorly? I'm not saying that no game companies ever treat their employees right, but if we're assuming that it's generally accepted that game companies are abusive to their employees, you probably heard about it because of Tier 1 companies.
    – Zibbobz
    Mar 15 '15 at 21:39
  • I know developers that work at smaller studios so I am basing my judgements on their anecdotes and assuming that the blizzards, rockstars, and id's of this world treat their employees a bit better . As a developer myself ( non video game ) I have found that it's medium sized companies that treat you best ( large ones treat you as a anonymous cog in the machine, tiny ones dump a lot of pressure on you but often fall into cargo cult mentalities. ) but that's based on my own personal experience. Mar 15 '15 at 21:50

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