What qualifications and/or experience do you need?
There are so many different courses and qualifications out there now. Although a technical degree will help, it’s super important to have a strong portfolio, professional or personal. If seeking that first job, having a personal portfolio will not only showcase your talent, but also your personality and willingness to learn.
It goes without saying a strong grounding in maths, a programming language and the ability to show it is a must. Traditionally, the language of choice is C++, and this is used by many of the big boys in their in-house game engines.
Today it is more common for smaller teams to use an off-the-shelf engine such as Unity or Unreal. Working knowledge of engines and middleware will definitely give you the advantage.
How would someone come to be in your position?
There’s the traditional way - learn your craft and work your way up. Begin at a junior/entry level and if you are skilled and driven, grab those opportunities when they present themselves.
Then there’s the way I did it. Take a gamble and join a small start-up/Indie team. As team sizes are small you often only get a couple of heads in each discipline, and with that comes more responsibility and nowhere to hide.
If you were interviewing someone, what do you look for?
On a personal level, I want to see passion and enthusiasm. What we do has to be more than just a job.
Technically, it’s all about that experience and portfolio. Alongside great code I want to see inventive, clever ideas. As a small team, we love every member of staff to be creative, from the newest employee to the CEO.
What opportunities are there for career progression?
From a lead position there is a technical director role or the more official CTO. With each jump comes more responsibility and more decision making.
Some companies will allow you to manoeuvre across disciplines. I’ve previously worked with technical leads that have moved into design and others that shifted into production.