I am a game dev who was working in the game-industry and then ... got laid off. Ever since then, life has been stressful! During this time, I have met so many other devs who have also been laid off irrespective of the number of years they have been in the game. There just aren't many opportunities for game development where I live.

I can't think of a domain/place where I can use my game development skills. I know graphics/simulation/visualization is huge, but I can't think straight and am left clueless where to go from here.

What are some of the domains/companies where I can use my skills? What skills are common between game development and other areas of software development?

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  • you could always bail and go to canada...there are quite a few game dev. firms out that way – the_e Jan 14 '11 at 8:33
  • @espais: I thought about that, but I've heard the game industry there as well, suffers from the same problem: high job instability. – brainydexter Jan 14 '11 at 17:04
  • @brainydexter: on the other hand, canada's restrictions on visa entry are a bit easier to work through than the us'...if you were keen on staying in north america you could always try to get residency there...but that's a topic for a different SE IMO – the_e Jan 14 '11 at 19:52
  • @espais: I hear you. Being in such a stressful state for this long time has really made me very wary of getting back into game-dev. I feel burnt-out and I'm hoping to make a switch into a related field. I just don't know what are my options for different domain/companies that are out there.. – brainydexter Jan 14 '11 at 20:18
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    @Cloud don't think I reached the end yet :) I meandered through and did a whole lot of different things, from backend development to writing device drivers to now working again on building a virtual world. It's been a very interesting journey for me giving me a good breadth of experience. – brainydexter Jan 31 at 4:48

Try companies that do C++ development (I assume you know C++, being a game dev) in general. Things that come to mind are engineering software firms: CAD, simulation, etc. A Google search for "engineering simulation software" seems to pop up a few potentially viable options.

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    Good answer. brainydexter, don't let your pride at being a "game dev" keep you from exploring opportunities that would use your coding skills in a different way. – Matthew Read Jan 14 '11 at 5:02
  • Thanks Anna. Yea, C++ is what I use. I'll lookup some of those and see if I can find something where I can use my skills. I am all game for exploring new things, which is why I am willing to take this leap of faith. I was doing some Java/Database work in the past, and I wanted to do something more challenging than that. I then made a U-turn in life and got into this trade. But, somehow I can't seem to think out of the box to see where else can I use these skills. Hopefully, with all of your help, I'll be able to make an informed decision. – brainydexter Jan 14 '11 at 17:22

One thing that comes to mind immediately. Not sure how feasible it would be in your particular circumstances, but if you've got a lot of experience and the industry is still not very mature back home, you could take the initiative and try to start up your own game development shop in your country.

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    I would be lying if that thought hasn't crossed my mind. But in all honesty, I lack the experience to start my own studio. I still have a lot to learn, before I can open my own shop. But I guess, that'll have to wait.. – brainydexter Jan 14 '11 at 17:08

You are a developer. Games just happen to be what you did most recently.

This experience gives you a keen sense of critical areas like usability, efficiency, event-stream management, visualization, managing complexity and concurrency, and working with ridiculously complicated state-machines.

All of which apply to many different kinds of software.

What you probably don't know are some basic business-programming tools (SQL, HTML, whatever) and business domains (manufacturing, distribution, transportation, retail, etc.). These can be easily learned.

Learn what you don't know (SQL, HTML, whatever), and go forth and code. You might not land a senior-developer job right out of the gate, but your experience will give you unique insights and problem-solving techniques that will set you apart from the pack.

Good luck!

  • Disagree with the "you probably don't know [...] SQL, HTML". If you handed me any 1 random game dev and any 1 random non-game dev, I would wager the game-dev to be more likely to know SQL. That goes for most other technologies too. I have been on both sides, and I find game devs on average to have a broader experience with many tools and technologies because most games require a larger set of technologies than most other domains; it's a lot more than graphics and sound. Agree with the rest though: +1 – Aaron Mar 22 '17 at 13:04
  • @Aaron: today, I would probably agree. Six years ago, not so much ;) – Steven A. Lowe Mar 22 '17 at 23:13
  • Odd that you would say that, as I would have said just the opposite. Game development technologies these days are allowing developers to get lazier and less experienced every year. A lot of what we used to handle manually is now done for us. Some types of games can even be created these days without writing any code at all (unlikely, but possible for a small subset of games). – Aaron Mar 23 '17 at 14:36
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    In the old days, it was common for us to do all the heavy lifting ourselves for connecting to SQL server, writing a website to display stats or forums or whatever (probably in PHP at that time), writing your own graphics engine and possibly a physics one too, etc. etc.. I got all that experience and more (networking, data structures, matrix algebra, etc.) from game dev. Now I work on many projects at a very large non-game company and anything/everything (1 exception: embedded) SEs do here, which is just about everything you can imagine, I also did in game-dev, and there had more demanding reqs – Aaron Mar 23 '17 at 14:44
  • Obviously, your mileage may vary with specific developers, but I've found game-dev in general from my experience required people with broader/deeper skills than anything I've encountered since I left game development. Sounds weird to others at first, but it makes sense: games need everything (graphics, persistence, networking, etc.), and they need to work at top efficiency and optimization. My last few projects were military, and their demands/requirements/needs have nothing on video games. It's sad but true. Would take this to chat, but this is my work SE account and oddly SE chat is blocked – Aaron Mar 23 '17 at 14:51

You have several options depending on what you specifically did as a game dev programmer.

1) If you worked on graphics engines, you can work on rendering software for the movie industry.

2) If you worked on the physics engine you can work on simulation software

3) If you did the scripting engine, there are actually a surprising number of companies which need domain specific languages.

4) If you did the AI then you can work on decision engines and pathfinding algorithms.

I'm sure I've missed game related programming positions.

You could also start your own game company if you end up going back to your home country.

If you did other things in game dev there are other jobs which use a lot of the same skills.

  • I am a jack-of-all trade. However, I feel that graphics and main gameplay (which relates a lot to simulation systems), are my biggest strengths. I have been advised to stay away from the movie industry for the same reason of job instability. Would you happen to know any names/companies off the top of your head where I can start searching ? It would really help me with a good starting point. – brainydexter Jan 14 '11 at 20:05
  • I don't, unfortunately. I'm only a college student and don't have much experience. I can say that Pixar is always recruiting software engineers, but I imagine that would be a tough interview. – indyK1ng Jan 14 '11 at 20:17

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