Every working day this month, as part of our New Year, New Job 2014 special, Develop brings you a game industry professional to explain what their job involves and key advice to help you follow in their footsteps.
Anna Ljungberg, an experienced gameplay programmer at Codemasters, describes what it takes to become part of a programming team, governing the science that makes racing games fun.
What is your job role?
I’m part of the gameplay programming team on one of our racing titles. I’m mainly responsible for the extensive camera system that underpins all of the cinematic and driving cameras. But I get stuck into all game-related tasks as required, such as game mode logic, results and rewards.
How would someone become a gameplay programmer?
Obviously, learn to program and how games work. Then you need to show that you can do it for a living, which is where qualifications and experience helps. One option is to demonstrate your abilities by writing something in your spare time to show how interested and committed you are to making games.
What qualifications and/or experience do you need?
Usually you need an undergraduate degree in a games-related course or similar, like Computer Science or Mathematics. I graduated with a degree in Games AI. Industry experience is not required, but you will have to demonstrate your abilities in other ways, such as your own demos and other things you have been involved in.
If you’re interviewing someone to join your team, what do you look for?
Passion and the ability to make games. You need to be both enthusiastic about making games and have the knowledge to make one, as well as a willingness to learn, a curiosity of how things work and how they can be made better. Personal projects can be key. If you love making games this should be very easy for you.
What opportunities are there for career progression?
As a programmer you can specialise in a particular area and become the expert in that field. You can also branch out into management by becoming a line manager and work your way up to a technical director-type role.
Why choose to follow a career in your field?
The most important thing to me is to feel happy and motivated with what I do every day, as well as something that gives me an opportunity to develop my skills and knowledge. Being a games programmer definitely gives me all that, as I really enjoy what I do and the end product of my work. I also have the opportunity to further my knowledge in many fields and experience new challenges every day.
This feature is part of New Year, New Job 2014, Develop’s month-long guide to games recruitment. You can read more at www.develop-online.net/jobs2014.