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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

IGN Talks Games Industry Salaries 348

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the not-just-monopoly-money dept.
WeebMac writes "IGN has a new career-themed section and one of their first stories is about the earning potential available to those who make their careers in the gaming industry. From TFA, 'Beginning programmers, whether you're working on tools, gameplay, networking, audio, AI, or animation, you can expect to start off with a salary in the area of $60K with the potential for more in the way of sales-based royalties or bonuses or stock options depending on the particular company you've been hired by."
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IGN Talks Games Industry Salaries

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  • by realmolo (574068) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:14PM (#13837863)
    Because since you'll be working 80 hour weeks, you won't have time to spend it!

    As for stock options and royalties...yeah right. Carrot, meet stick.

    Seriously, IGN is clueless.
    • It is in IGN's interest to throw out high numbers. Think about it.. Oh, and spending money isn't everyone's goal.
    • Because since you'll be working 80 hour weeks, you won't have time to spend it!

      Don't worry, these will go to health care in no time! SPECIALLY with 80 hour weeks.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because since you'll be working 80 hour weeks, you won't have time to spend it!
      Keep perpetuating these exaggerations of how bad our working conditions are. If you keep scaring away potential new talent, then we veterans of the industry have a little easier of a future because of less competition for our jobs.
    • Or are they? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:58PM (#13838273)
      Granted that most of the information presented in the article is either false or hyped beyond exaggeration, IGN is not entirely clueless. Their motive here is not to write a fact-filled article, presenting unbiased information to a crowd of prospective game developers.

      What is it, then? To make money. Consider two things:

      -This article is geared toward adolescents, and continues the marginal trend within America of promoting questionable possibilities because, survey says: kids like to dream.
      -Checking just above the article, one will notice the banner indicating "Sponsored by Full Sail" in so many words. What is Full Sail, you ask? An imitation private college designed to produced talentless chum at the measly expense of $30k. Per year.

      IGN is no more clueless than they are poor, but they definitely hope to take advantage of the fact that their userbase is indeed clueless. But what more should we expect from America's biased, profiteering media?
      • Only two people noted the 'Full Sail' connection, and they're both stuck at 0; to note what the parent post says:-

        Checking just above the article, one will notice the banner indicating "Sponsored by Full Sail" in so many words. What is Full Sail, you ask? An imitation private college designed to produced talentless chum at the measly expense of $30k. Per year.

    • by Sneftel (15416) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @03:09PM (#13838861)
      Obvious: If you're a new college grad willing to work 100 hours a week for mediocre benefits, there are companies willing to take you up on your offer.

      Not so obvious: If you're a new college grad and are NOT willing to work 100 hours a week for mediocre benefits, there are still companies willing to take you up on your offer. You just need to be good at what you do, and willing to ask for what you want.

      Seriously. If there's one group that truly, truly SUCKS at contract negotiations, it's geeks. There's enough money in the industry to pay competent people a good wage, but if you cream your pants at the very thought of EA sticking you in a mildewy basement for $20 a week, that's what you're gonna get.
    • you won't have time to spend it

      no, you just end up spending it in daft ways ... like blowing $500 on a dinner or in other equally silly ways.
  • by halivar (535827) <bfelger.gmail@com> on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:14PM (#13837869) Homepage
    What's the dollar-to-hour ratio? If you're making $100K and spending 100 hours a week to make it, it's not worth it.
    • by RailGunner (554645) * on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:26PM (#13837996) Journal
      Assuming 80 hour work weeks, working 50 weeks out of the year, 60K works out to:

      $15 bucks an hour.

      Assuming you work 80 hours a week, and you get time-and-a-half overtime, you only need to make $12 an hour. If you're competent, you can make more than $12 an hour managing a Burger King.

      For further comparison: Most contractors are able to bill for over $40 an hour, in many cases more than this.

      Bottom line is this: If you're working mandatory overtime, there's a line where it'd be better to go sling burgers.

      • Keep in mind that you're likely working in a town adjacent to LA or San Diego where the cost of living (food and rent) is literally about double compared to 90% of the country. The multiplier for houses is about 3, with a bottom cap of around 400k, no matter how shabby (a 200k house will cost you about 600k and a 90K house will cost you at least 400k).

        The pay for me was about 20% less than I made before and after. Education and other experience means less than your list of published game titles, for which
      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) <`Satanicpuppy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:19PM (#13838473) Journal
        People throw out the contractor figure a lot. Hell I've billed 150+ an hour for certain types of programming and database work.

        That is NOT the same as making $150 an hour, working a full time job. Not even remotely close. You're lucky if you can pull ten hours a week at those rates, assuming you lack big industry contracts, and it's unlikely you'd be able to do THAT two weeks in a row.

        And then there is all the work you have to do, but can't get paid for. Marketing, billing, accounting, keeping your own equipment and skills up. Travel time...Sometimes you can bill for it, sometimes you can't. If you can't, then you're talking an hour or so wasted in transit. Nothing worse than having to drive in, and finding out the problem is a user error that takes 5 minutes to fix...Even if you normally bill at a hour minimum, if you charge someone $180 bucks for typing one command, they'll never call you again...I always charged a 40 dollar call fee, but that's not worth the damn time it takes to get there and back.

        Freelance is nice, if the work comes in by itself. If it doesn't, it can be hell.
      • I wasn't aware that Burger King pays benefits. I sure do like all this health care.

        Anyway, your assumptions are just way wrong. I'd say I'm pretty typical for a game developer. In my career I've worked probably a total of 10 90-hour work weeks. I'd say 85% of my weeks have been fewer than 60 hours, and that the median work-week is about 50 hours.

        Not to mention that there is a lot of intrinsic joy in making games. Solving new and interesting problems constantly. It's like getting paid to solve ches

        • Burger King does indeed pay store managers benefits. Most fast food companies do. Some, in fact, even offer 401k benefits.

          Still, working in fast food sucked, and I'm glad I graduated and don't do it anymore (10 years later...).

          Solving new and interesting problems constantly. It's like getting paid to solve chess puzzles, including the euphoria of finally producing the solution.

          Generally, that's any programming job, which is what is so great about the field.

          I live in Texas, I have good friends that w

  • kids! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rovingeyes (575063) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:15PM (#13837880)
    "If you were to grab any random teenager from one of the midnight launch lines for the latest Halo, Grand Theft Auto or Madden release and were to ask them how much it'd take to pay them to make games, there's a good chance that you'd find more than a few who would tell you that it's their dream to get into development and that they'd do it for free. "

    Call it a flame, but am I the only one seeing the stupidity in that paragraph. They are KIDS for crying out loud! Let us see if they still are willing to work for free when...umm... they graduate or have a family. This author is a moron!

    • Re:kids! (Score:5, Funny)

      by NotMyNickName (922171) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:18PM (#13837914)
      This author is a moron!

      Only the best from IGN.

    • Re:kids! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mcb (5109)
      Agreed. A random teenager has no idea what is involved in making games. Tedious programming, constantly fixing bugs, trying to write software for an insane variety of hardware, working 80 hours a week until your current project ships, losing your job when your game crashes and burns in the market...

      Yeah sounds like a dream job.
    • Re:kids! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076)
      Let us see if they still are willing to work for free when...umm... they graduate or have a family. This author is a moron!

      Then they shouldn't have kids then... Sometimes having a particular career means not having a family because you won't be able to support them (that or you wouldn't make a responsible parent anyways).

      Look... No one is forcing you to have kids or buy a house or a fancy car. I can live off $20K a year if I wanted to (but I wouldn't want).

      If you have dreams follow them. Wait til your 30 to
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you salary area is $60K, is your salary 244.95?
  • by Radres (776901) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:17PM (#13837897)
    ...and make $600 million [theinquirer.net]. I always hated IGN and their half-hearted attempt to make a games site for each and every game that comes out. Nothing could compare to a site made by a dedicated fan, such as Shlonglor's Warcraft 2 page [winnieinternet.com], which was built before this gamespy/ign/daily radar/plan revolution.
    • keep in mind that IGN began by acquiring fan sites (n64.com, etc). I agree that now it is an unreadable, unnavigable mess - but if a site like your Shlonglor got an offer to sell out, you can bet your sweet bippy that we'd be going to shlonglor.ign.com for Warcraft 2 news.
    • Oh man, I havent thought of Shlonglors site in years. Man, that was the definitive resource for War2 back in the day. Thanks for the ride down memory lane.
    • I made themfb.com (now themfb.net) back in the day, it was very well thought out. But there is no reason to even bother anymore. Sure you can do a lot better job content wise than the big guys, but when someone goes to google and types in mechwarrior or whatnot, they are going to get the super mega dupe sites that are low on content, high on reg fees, but look really fancy!

      The only site that I still know of thats completeley fan run that gets almost all traffic for the game is www.mektek.net which NEARLY
  • by mpapet (761907) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:17PM (#13837906) Homepage
    I tend to think the numbers are lying one way or another.

    Either it's an EA kind of environment where 60,000K may be cheap for such devotion, or gaming is in the equivalent of the tech bubble.

    Un-related but funny story. I have some aquiantances (sp?) here in L.A. that write scripts and they actually get evaluated (paid too) by people who can get movies made. The latest overwhelming reply to their work has been, "It's a great script, but we're really looking for something based on a video game.."

    True story.
    • Those salaries are typical for engineering in general, at least in San Francisco.
    • "It's a great script, but we're really looking for something based on a video game.."

      If they write one piece of crap (say, for instance, a Qbert movie) that the studio can make some money on, they might have an easier time selling them on another, better script when the wind blows and movie trends change... Plus, the world needs another video-game-based vehicle for "The Rock" to star in... Imagine The Rock in "Galaga, the Movie!"

      Pure dreck...
    • by rlp (11898) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:35PM (#13838080)
      It's a great script, but we're really looking for something based on a video game

      IT CAME FROM THE SKY!! THE MILITARY COULDN'T STOP IT. ONLY ONE LONE ECCENTRIC GENIUS KNEW WHAT TO DO!! IT'S TETRIS - THE MOVIE

      That'll be one million dollars and ten percent of the gross please.
    • What you say may be true.

      But game development requires more bizarre skills than most common types of development (enterpise applications, web applications, etc.)

      It usually involves quite complex math skills, knowledge of physics and many obscure algorithmic techniques that most programmers are not familiarized with.

      I'm not saying that one type of programmers is necessary better than the other, just that good game prgrammers are even harder to find than (for lack of a better word) 'regular' programmers. That
    • >>>
      Un-related but funny story. I have some aquiantances (sp?) here in L.A. that write scripts and they actually get evaluated (paid too) by people who can get movies made. The latest overwhelming reply to their work has been, "It's a great script, but we're really looking for something based on a video game.."
      >>>

      bash or perl?
    • Is that 60K fresh out of school? If so, that's high. If that's for a guy with some experience, that's lowball.
  • Into Perspective (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pat_trick (218868) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:18PM (#13837907) Homepage
    Nevermind that the "beginning" programmer has likely already worked on many other games, has a solid background in programming of various languages / APIs, and is able to produce solid quality code.

    Sounds like they're souping up "beginning" as "I know how to write a cout in C++!".
    • On top of any work they had to do before touching code, like quality assurance and testing...

    • I hope so (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've been working on games since leaving university in 1994... 3DO, PS1, PS2, XBox, Sega DC, Nintendo 64, PC, in both programmer and lead programmer positions. I hit $60k last year.

      *speechless*

      I mean, am I just horribly underpaid, or are these figures wildly inaccurate, or just vastly inflated Californian levels?

      Good to know I'm a beginner. Makes me feel a little younger.
  • by xtal (49134) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:19PM (#13837920)
    Nevermind what it will do if you want to have a family life. Done that once, now I'm a freelance contractor and working on my own business ventures. If you go into the games industry looking to get rich as a programmer, you are insane. This is an industry where the peasants (programmers, engineers) REVOLTED. I can't think of another example.

    http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=ea+lawsuit&btn G=Google+Search&meta= [google.ca]

    Think about that.

    If you're doing it for the love of the art, do it for a hobby. Otherwise, I admire your guts.

    Free advice for those of you with mad opengl skills and a mathematics background - double score if you have a mathematics or engineering degree.

    - Go read a book on "Data Visualization"
    - Go read a book on "Geographic Information Systems"
    - Go read a book on "Signal Processing" (FFT, etc)
    - Brush up on data structures relevant to the above.

    Fire some resumes around to oil companies, insurance firms, financial trading companies, mining companies, etc etc loaded up with buzzwords. Make your programming skills secondary to the buzzwords.

    Profit. My $0.02. I paid for my univesity degree writing 3D GIS systems software in OpenGL - had I have tried to do so writing games, I would probably be living on the street.
    • I did both man, Back at school I wrote medical visualization software for virtual reality systems. Sure it paid the bills, but it wasn't as satisfying and the work environment was much more uptight (Researching PHDs aren't the most fun group of people to work with).

      Now, I work in the game industry and my hours are extemely flexible and the atmosphere is much more laidback. I find that the quality of work I am doing is much better now that I am happy. I make a very good wage (I'm not rich, but I neve
      • Not arguing the environments are different.

        However, if you want to make lots of money, you are much more likely to do so (in my opinion) in another graphics and math intensive field, expecially one dripping with money like oil exploration than an industry filled with easily exploitable younger adults willing to work insane hours, and a new crop of them appearing yearly.

    • by justins (80659) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @03:49PM (#13839276) Homepage Journal
      . This is an industry where the peasants (programmers, engineers) REVOLTED. I can't think of another example.

      Not a student of the labor movement and its history, eh?
  • You're more likely to be a pro athelete than to be a game dev. Unless your diet centers around cheetos and mountain dew. In that case you have no chance at either.

    -d
  • by nharmon (97591) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:21PM (#13837940) Homepage
    as it's the engineers at the various game companies that are driving the Ferrari's, Mercedes SL500's, and Lamborghini's.

    First of all. How many engineers are game companies are driving top-end sports cars? And second of all, how many could afford them?

    I mean, making $100,000 and driving a Lambo would probably mean parking it in front of a 1 bedroom apartment... and hoping someone doesn't walk along and key it.
  • Pardon? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MaestroSartori (146297) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:22PM (#13837956) Homepage
    I don't know about the US, but I'm a gamesprogrammer in the UK with 4 years or so games experience for a mix of companies.

    My starting salary was £20k (somewhere around $35k-40k US I think), which is at the upper end of the starting range in this country. I've known people who worked in smaller companies in lower cost-of-living areas who started on much less.

    Most companies that I've known staff at do *not* offer shares, or royalties, or even bonuses. Bonuses, where offered, are by no means guaranteed - I've never had one. I've worked on a finished game for which I might've received royalties, but you don't get them til at least a year after the game is released (and the company went bust before the game was released, lovely!), and there's no guarantee that the contract with the publisher will be such that the staff ever see any royalties even if the company does.

    I've never worked for them, but the majority of games companies at least in the UK make GB/GBA/Mobile-phone games, not the big console titles. Even the big players (Rockstar spring to mind) don't pay out regular bonuses on time or at all.

    Why do I still do it? Well, now I'm working at a decent company (Sony, if you're interested), I get to make *games* god damn it, it's fun! :)

    If anyone has any more questions about working in games, feel free to reply :D
    • Keep in mind that location is a big factor.
      Someone making $60k in the midwest... is a great job and can support a family.
      Someone making $60k in LA (more likely for gamining companies) and you are living in a small apartment unable to support a significant other.
      • Indeed - 20k is a decent wage in the UK for a graduate (not for a CS graduate maybe), but it was in one of the most expensive parts of the country (right next to London) where I literally couldn't afford to buy a house, and rent was 75% of my wage each month :(
      • Re:Pardon? (Score:4, Informative)

        by brainboyz (114458) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:51PM (#13838212) Homepage
        I'm calling out your bullshit! I make $50k/year as a programmer in Orange County (high cost area). I can afford a decent 1 bedroom apartment (700 sq feet), investments, 401k, health & dental insurance, my truck, 2 motorcycles (track and street), and a project car. If I cared to for some reason, I could have my girlfriend move in and only money she'd need to contribute would be anything to go out shopping with.

        It's not a high-end life, but it's certainly not "scraping by" nor is it in a bad area (I live 15 minutes from work). That seems to be the norm for this area.

        I will agree that if I were making this much in the midwest, I'd own my own home by now but that's the price of gorgeous weather, women, and scenes.
  • Seems High (Score:4, Informative)

    by captainbeardo (868266) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:22PM (#13837957) Homepage
    According to the diversity report from the IGDA http://www.igda.org/diversity/report.php [igda.org] the average salary is 58K, but that's with the average time in the industry at 5.6 years. So it would seem to me that the average starting salary would be less than the 60K they are quoting.

    Also, due to the incredible supply of people that want to work in the games industry you'd expect the average salary of a game software developer to be less. I know in the company I work for starting SW developer salary is around 55K right out of college. In any event, it seems that their numbers for SW engineers is a bit high.

  • 60K? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StandardDeviant (122674) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:26PM (#13838000) Homepage Journal
    Shit, from what I've heard from friends in the industry, it's more like 30-35k. (Most them living here in TX, with a fairly average cost of living on the national scale. [at least the cities where these folks were -- austin, dallas, and houston -- are within 10% of the national average last I checked... it's surely cheaper to live in places like Crockett or Buda or Nacogdoches or whatever, but you don't find many games studios in places where the time zone is still "1952".])
  • The hard part... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by planetoid (719535)
    The hard part, in my experience, seems to be getting your foot in the door into the videogames industry in the first place. Every single job opening I've read that I saw and said, "I'm totally qualified for that -- all they skills they're looking for, I have", also then have one other requirement: either "Must have 2-3 years prior job experience" or "Must have credits on (x) previous console titles."

    Well gee, if EVERY job position requires PRIOR JOB EXPERIENCE, how can you possibly EVER GET JOB EXPERIENC
    • Re:The hard part... (Score:5, Informative)

      by kevmo (243736) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:37PM (#13838102)
      A lot of times when they say "prior experience required" they actually mean preferred. This is especially true for recent college grads - I am a senior in college myself, and I have had at least 1 interview where the job listing said "3+ years of experience." I don't know why they say it if its not totally true, but don't let those requirements stop you from sending them your resume.
    • by Buddy_DoQ (922706)
      It's cool dude, if you want in, you really don't need that prior exp. Just a hard-core portfolio and the attitude to follow it up. It's a visual medium, so you have to show them what you can do, the easiest way is to show them the last game you shipped, but they don't really expect everyone to have that. Just send them your reel and if it rocks their socks off, you'll get your interview and art test if you're an artist type.

      In the meantime, don't stop working on your stuff, keep your self fresh

    • ANytime you see xxx years experience on any job, cut it to 60%. They want 10? 6-7 years is fine, 5 is probably ok. They want 5? 3 is fine. They want 2? Any previous job is fine, and a college grad has a chance.

      For the gaming industry in particular, I'd bring in some demos to show them, that can get you points (assuming they're good) and offset experience. Although I'd also recommend avoiding the field, other jobs pay more, have lower hours, and lower stress. You'll be happier in the long run if you
      • i saw a job req for bose.

        they wanted 35 years of programming experience.

        they also wanted 12 years of .NET experience. i think they missed a couple hyphens
    • It gets better, I was recently hired because I put some effort in getting to know people around me. Get out and get into things that will help you meet people in the industry, and impress them, I have a job because of someone I knew, not because my resume was spanky.
    • Get a job outside of the game field, and either build a game in your spare time, or volunteer your time to a group building a game or mod.

      over something that seems superficial and silly rather than anything related to competence in any given talent.

      How is proven experience not related to competence? Put another way, if you claim to have the competence, then how are you not able to prove it to them? What is your competence? Good grades? Projects you did on your own? A healthy ego is not competence.
      If y
  • salaries (Score:3, Informative)

    by achacha (139424) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:30PM (#13838035) Homepage
    It's always a trade-off of salary and doing what you like in the software industry. As a senior game developer you can make 80-100k but you will be working 50-70 hours a week and even weekends. Being a senior software developer in a financial or banking corporation will get you 90-120k and 40 hour work weeks, but the sheer boredom on working on financial apps needs to be considered. So the bottom line is do you want to do what you love and become a hamster in a wheel or will you grow think skin and work on tedious and boring applications for stability, more free time, and better options/bonuses?

    That is the question that most software engineers ask themselves and a heavy factor is if you have something outside of work that matters a lot to you (family, involved hobby, etc).

    Dilemma indeed.
    • its possible to take that extra bankroll and the 10-30 hrs a week doing hobby game development. Hell, i make muuuuch less than that, but have gobs of free time. Too bad I'm really lazy (and sick of programming writing boring shipping apps)
  • Just Plain Stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kenp2002 (545495) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:32PM (#13838049) Homepage Journal
    Salary surveys are one of the worst examples of statistics. First off you have to be EMPLOYED. The average salary for a football player is say 4 million. Now out of the millions of people that try to get into professional football how many? Telling me people in the game industry are earning $60k a year means nothing if you can't get a job in te industry. Further more the cost of education, hours worked, and benefits compensation are left out largely. In addition salary surverys are biased as they ignore laid off, unemployed, and displaced employees in the industry.

    Salary Survey question example:

    How much do you make an hour? --- $30 and hour.

    As far as the survery is concerned I make $60,000 a year. But if I get laid off for 6 months do they adjust that? Nope. It's too irrelivant to use salary figures. IF wonk A get 60k a year and wonk B gets 70k who makes more? Well Wonka A pays nothing for health insurance and Wonk B pays 12k a year for health insurance. What about deductables and 401k\b performance. Stock options. I know plenty of Eron employees that could talk about the real wage of a staffer just as EA employees could rant a bit on it.

    Tired of surverys that mean nothing....

    my 2
    • Yes, and this story is bullshit. Its like saying "Kids, go into acting! The starting salary for a movie star is $500k a year!" Which is true. But there are probably 50,000 aspiring actors for every movie star. Games/special effects/etc is a field that is totally hosed by the glamour factor. I started out as a 3d artist (in LA) and I realized real quickly that they EXPLOIT people because of the glamour factor. My advices is to never take a job where the people tell you that there are "thousands of kids who w

  • Please realize that IGN is full of shit.

    People who make $100k a year do not neccessarily drive Lambo's either. In fact, I bet very FEW people who make $100k a year drive "great" cars - $100k a year in the US isn't ALL that much money. Especially if you're supporting a family.

    Entry level salaries for programmers, (and it's pretty freakin rare that someone right out of college gets a job programming for games) are more in the area of 30-40K, with a possibility of $50 if you were a top-notch grad from
    • People who make $100k a year do not neccessarily drive Lambo's either. In fact, I bet very FEW people who make $100k a year drive "great" cars - $100k a year in the US isn't ALL that much money. Especially if you're supporting a family.

      Amen - in many/most parts of California, making $100K is barely enough to rent a halfway decent 3BR home and support a small family with a middle-class lifestyle. Heaven help you if you want to actually buy a home.

  • by OneByteOff (817710) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:35PM (#13838092)
    A metric that I've always used to guess how well a company pays its employees is the cars in the parking lot. I work at a major game company that produces 20 million dollar games. In our parking lot out of about 100 cars there are no Bmw's, one mercedes, one or two high end sports cars and the majority are grocery getter low end compacts.

    The only people getting rich are the high up exec's, one of which rolls up in his bentley once a month or so for a few hours then leaves the office again.
  • Make up your minds (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xeon4life (668430)
    Alright, you slashdotters really need to make up your minds. Either going into the computer industry is a bad choice or it's not. First, you say it's a bad idea because most jobs are being outsourced to other countries. Then you publish articles downplaying those claims, and saying companies are fighting to get CS grads and schools fighting to get more people into CS. You see, I will tell you all a little story of a boy who was turned off to his potential future as a programmer:

    There once was a boy, aged 12
    • Wow..

      The kid couldn't make up his mind so he did nothing? That's not very intelligent. He could have taken the first year or two of college to make up his mind. I changed majors two times and still made it out in 5 years. If he liked problem solving maybe he would have gotten into Chemistry or Physics and would have had the ability to write his own software for research. IMO there is no excuse for not giving it a try and seeing what happened.

      Listening to the Slashdot for advice is not a good idea either you
    • One year later he's been out of high school for a year and works at the local grocery store behind the butcher block because he was left stranded and confused. He didn't make up his mind about his future in time for college deadlines, and still reads slashdot and their conflicting outlooks on the future.

      See the problem was he didn't make a decision. You should always make a decision and go for it, it's better to change direction after making a wrong decision, than to continue not pursue anything at all.
    • Taking your career advice from the usually-hysterical-about-something-or-other slashdot group think is your first mistake, seriously.

      Do what you love, work hard at it, try to have some fun along the way. Take a risk or two; the worst case scenario is almost certainly not that bad in the end and you only live once (those expecting reincarnation notwithstanding). That seems what you'd been doing up until the loony bunch here got you worried.

      (And disregard anyone who follows up to this saying "I did what I l
    • Either you love it or you don't. Me, I write code because I can't NOT write code. During my morning commute, I don't see traffic flow, I see queueing theory (gone bad, most of the time). I'm writing an elevator controller in Ruby -- not because I have to, but because I had a long wait for an elevator over the weekend, and I started it and have to finish it. FWIW, I was an English major, but I wound up taking more CS classes than English before I was hired out of college for my first software development
    • Either going into the computer industry is a bad choice or it's not.

      No. The decision of whether to go into the computer industry or not is complicated, and there is no possible way you can reduce it to a simple good/bad value, especially as a generalization that applies to everyone since that seems to be what you are asking for.

      Life is complicated. There are precious few equations in math that can be reduced to a constant. The equations that govern our lives in human society are not among them. But peop
  • by mike_the_engineer (924349) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:45PM (#13838168)
    $60K a year / 50 weeks per year / 80 hours per week = $15 per hour
  • by lateralus_1024 (583730) <mattbaha@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:54PM (#13838244)
    Here in San Diego, if you have your CS degree and say, 2yrs of experience at $60k, you will find yourself at a crossroad: If you have good presentation skills, and have managed to teach yourself .Net/SQL Server/XML (because God(tm) knows they won't teach that to you at SDSU) then you should have no problem contracting for $60/hr or earning $75k+ once you move to another job. Having 7yrs experience myself, I have come to realization that the easiest way to get a pay raise is to simply move to another company. Frequently updating your resume will remind you of how little you actually know in your field. Diversify, bitches. If you choose to stay in one place, you can bank on a mediocre 3% pay increase annually, stock option carrot dangling, and work with the same technology you played with last year. Just my 2 cents, i don't mean to offend anyone. Mileage will vary.
  • I once spoke to a headhunter (around 8 years ago) about a local video game company and was told that since I was looking for a stable job (i.e. $x per year = $x/12 per month, every month) that the company was not a good match for me. It was explained to me that between games there are a lot of layoffs.

    I didn't see anything in the article about stability of the job. $60k is good if you can make it consistently, and if you're just starting off, it's probably good. However, if you're looking for a job whe
  • by StressGuy (472374) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:07PM (#13838355)
    I grew up (mostly) near the Chicagoland area in a small town where every other male played guitar. All of us were in garage bands at one time or another and, of course, we all had aspirations of "making the big time". As I got older, I would sometimes wonder what I would do if my kid decided he wanted to pursue his dream of being a "rockstar". The answer is pretty simple if you give it some thought. To even have the remotest shot at such a career, you have to be an extremely talented musician (yea, I know, I just put a "flame me" target on my back with that one, but, really, the odds of a mediocre talent making it are a lot smaller than a genuine talent). So, if that is really his interest, I would let him study music. Odds are, he won't "make the bigtime", but he could be a studio musician, producer, etc. A lot of would be rockstars I knew eventually went the studio route. The point is even if he doesn't realize his dream, he's still picking up a marketable skill in a field he loves.

    I see the same thing with computer gaming. To write games you need skills in math, physics, computer science, art, storytelling, etc. All very marketable skills. Seems like a no-brainer. Even if you don't write the next "DOOM", you've still got plenty of other options.

    So, if my kid wants to get into the video game industry, I'd be inclined to support him.

  • by ProppaT (557551) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:20PM (#13838482) Homepage
    1) IGN is assuming that everybody in the game industry is working in CA because they're clueless like that.

    2) $60k isn't much in CA.

    Seriously, I know the entry level folks over here at EA Tiburon in Orlando aren't starting out at that.
  • Bwahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahaha! I'm not sure where they got that figure, but there is no way programmers fresh out of school are being hired on at $60K a year unless they are something special or the cost of living where they are going to work is insane.
    • Oh, and I forgot to mention that the IGDA salary surveys are about as accurate as any survey. In other words take them with a suitable dose of salt. People always lie on surveys.
  • I'm a contractor for a company doing development work and I just took over the job for a guy who went into games. For free. He's working for a game company for 3 months as an intern for just a CHANCE to work for them permanently.
  • by NeedleSurfer (768029) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @03:12PM (#13838899)
    I have quite a few friends working in the video game industry, they mostly started with a salary of 10-12$ an hour, SOME of them got promotion and now have 32-36K$ salary, and that's canadian money. The argument being that so many people want to do this job that if they aren't happy with their salary they can go look elsewhere, everybody is replaceable. Problem is, the game industry want a bigger pool of people to draw talent from so they ask their friend to write BS articles about how programmers start at awesome salaries, young impressionnable to-be-students pick up private school courses (cause they are better, or so they say) at 12-20K$ per year, those school then make a crapload of money, about 10-20 students get jobs at the end of the year (out of an average of 250 student per school). Most of these jobs, if not all, are as game testers, not programmers. After a few years they get to program a bit, by then only 2-5 student of the original 250 are still in the business at the above mentionned salary. In a few year maybe one of them will get promotted to head programmer or something like that and will get the nice salary. Meanwhile hundreds of students get out of school with an enormous debt with no possibility of following another course (having expended most of the possible loan limit imposed by the government, 25K in Canada) and no interesting job to pick from except multimedia houses where they will get paid a meager salary to do a very uninteresting job. I have worked in one of those school, during 3 years and I got out because of this. The industry is completely saturated and those kind of articles are extremely evil by nature because they help to sell unatainable dreams to impressionnable young students. This is the kind of BS article that make me proud of not having IGN in my bookmarks.

    Don't believe the hype
  • I love it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TiggertheMad (556308) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @04:02PM (#13839389) Homepage Journal
    royalties

    BWHahahahahaha ahhahahhhahahahahahhhahahhahahhahahahhh... (pant)(pant)
    Ahhahahahahahhahahah hahahahhah hahahahh hhah hhahahha... (pant)(pant)
    AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHAAhahahaha hahahahahahhah hahahh hahh... (pant)(pant)
    hahahahah.....hahahahh......haha...... (gasp) Oh, *ahem*......hehe..er, *cough*....hehe...hehhhhheee...


    Sorry, hehehehe, *ahem*....... Now, I think- royalties

    AAHAHAHHAHAHHHAHHAHHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHA!

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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