Given the interesting conversations on this thread, I've decided to look a bit further into this topic in order to achieve several things. First off, to answer your original questions and secondly to address what appears to be the underlying subject of your interest to enter into game development.
As many people here have stated, 'pure' knowledge of Mathematical concepts at an expert level without any proven software development experience will not prohibit you from getting into the Game Development career track. I would argue that it will significantly limit your options in the process of attempting to get in the door of an exclusive top tier game dev studio. My initial arguments were based on the intent to not deter you from the basis of your original question which was your 'interest' in approaching the field of game dev.
So what I would suggest is that you look further into the subject. Here are some examples of what is currently active in the market based on the search criteria "Mathematician games" on Indeed.com:
Given the time sensitive nature of the link, i've compiled some of the examples below:
Game Design Mathematician II
Engineering | Austin, TX
Responsibilities Include: providing detailed mathematical analysis of
semi-complex games; developing mathematical or statistical models of
games to test pay table math models for functionality and adherence to
specifications; applying programming principles to create game
simulations and calculation programs; developing gaming probabilities
and payout tables; performing analysis of game performance and
simulations of gaming results; developing production math for
proprietary bingo, lottery, and traditional math systems for original
titles and platform conversions; documenting the probabilities and
statistics for developed games, including par sheets; working with
software development teams to ensure correct implementation of games
math; developing original game play mechanics; and providing feedback
and direction on game concepts.
Note that this job is filed under "Engineering" and not "Computers/Software" on their site so their company makes a distinction between Software Development and Engineers. In this case, I would argue that your understanding of Java would only be helpful and desirable. Also notice that the role of the position appears to be based on Statistics for casino based games but it supports your original question.
Senior Game Mathematician
Department: Video Gaming - Executive Location: Reno, NV
At Scientific Games, we look for people driven by a desire to
contribute, be challenged and grow. Our people make Scientific Games a
special company and are a key competitive advantage. We are seeking a
person to apply their exceptional analytical skills as well as their
knowledge of advanced methods and probabilities to ensure a quality
math product design for our Video Gaming Machine and Route Gaming
System solutions for the growth of our exhilarating Video Gaming
The Senior Game Mathematician provides detailed mathematical
description and analysis of gaming products. Designs game
specifications and math models and calculates payback percentage, odds
and other regulated parameters to ensure accurate payouts and
compliance with gaming regulations. Develops mathematical models of
games to test the pay table math for functionality and adherence to
specifications. Applies programming principles to create game
simulations and calculation programs and other duties as assigned.
Responsibilities as assigned by the Vice President of Product
Here we have another position for casino games. Maybe we are starting to see a trend? So what does that mean to you... Well, firstly it might not be exactly what you are looking for. Is your goal to make good money? If yes then it might mean you can be very successful being involved in the process of creating games played by many people based solely on your background in math. Is your interest in working for a top tier game studio creating the next Gears of War?
If that's your goal then I would argue that once you start down the path of building games for the Casino industry that you could potentially harm your ability to do anything outside of this area. One potential pitfall that you have to think about is getting 'siloed' into a specific career path that makes it difficult to pivot into another area in the same field. It's a potential issue but nothing i'm stating here is applicable for every situation. Some will argue against my points given their specific experience. All I aim to provide you with is 'my' specific experience in corporate software development for the past 12 years.
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Department: Research & Development (Games) Description: The
Mathematician researches and studies statistically gaming products and
creates mathematical models for one or more games on a project basis.
Duties: • Creates the mathematical models of game production based off
of corporate directives. • Consults with game designer to develop and
complete game themes. • Contributes innovative and original ideas to
game or game design team. • Analyze statistically existing or new
games and report to game design team. • Maintain proper mathematical
models, utilizing Windows based PCs and MS Office. • Facilitates the
distribution of approved mathematical material and files to support
product release. • Prepares relevant mathematic information for
presentation needs, executive review, testing and compliance
requirements. • Answer to relevant mathematic questions for game
designer, engineer, sales, testing and compliance requirements.
• Provides all mathematical resource materials as needed to produce
game. • Reports to group leader any discrepancies or problems
requiring resolution. • Complies with the company’s regulatory
guidelines and corporate policies at all times. • Maintains
confidentiality regarding the company, products and employee
Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics or
equivalent experience; clear understanding of statistics. Professional
working experience in gaming industry or professional programming
Ok, now it's starting to get interesting. Just look at Konami's site. I think everyone here know who they are and what they've published. But wait, the job is for what? "Casino Games"... Here I would argue that last comment regarding the possibility to 'pivot' inside a company. This is a perfect example of "Getting your foot in the door" and would support the idea of developing your skills in software development alongside having a career with a top tier game company during the day. Remember, you can always learn how to become a good software developer on your 'own time'. I basically learned how to write software on my own and you can do so as well.
Some other points to remember, this is a huge company and can be very selective on who they hire so they emphasize have previous experience and 'shipped games' but that is boilerplate copy that's used on every job opening they have and is not to say that the hiring manager is looking for someone right out of school who is eager to learn and work hard. Remember that with experience comes other issues that a hiring manager has to worry about that aren't there with a new hire out of school (potentially: Require pay at higher tier than desirable, potential turnover due to reasons not present in someone right out of school, etc..)
So if you look at the Indeed job list, many of the Math related jobs are in the Casino Industry but hopefully I've given you some scenarios that help you make a good decision but based on some of my original comments, I said that if you are good at math, in theory you should be able to grasp programming at a competent level. What I would also mention if that with any skill/trade, it takes time to get good but it doesn't mean you can't get into the game industry. You just have to work at it and your background in math will only help you if you decide to.
Here are a few more examples of Mathematicians being cited by companies with a gaming/graphics focus:
DirectX/C++/XML Lead Programmer/Expert
Job is for a Lead Game Programmer but in the responsibilities:
Collaborate with artists, mathematicians, and other programmers and engineers to suggest enhancements and refinements, test prototypes,
and implement fine-tuned game features.
Another example of Mathematicians being involved in the process of 'implementing game features'.
High5 Games Backend Developer @ leading social & casino games
EDUCATION / EXPERIENCE:
Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science/Math and/or Electrical
Engineering required; Master’s Degree preferred. Minimum of 3+ years
in field and related area.
Company Description High 5 Games is the leading content developer of
the gaming industry, selling its engaging products and trademarked
concepts to many of the biggest distributors in the world. H5G has
patented several unique concepts that have revolutionized the gaming
community, and has created more than 100 games that appear in hundreds
of casinos over five continents, in places such as Las Vegas, Paris,
Madrid, Macau and Buenos Aires. Every H5G product starts out as an
idea. From our talented mathematicians, software engineers and
programmers who construct the necessary platform to the artists whose
imaginations allow them to craft intricate new worlds - life at H5G is
anything but ordinary – as are the games the company creates. We are
an eclectic, talented group of individuals and are always looking for
capable people to help grow our business. High 5 Games has produced
many of the most popular games in the casino industry – including
Cats, Secrets of the Forest, Da Vinci Diamonds, Sirens, Michelangelo,
Witches Riches, and White Orchid. In its history, H5G has licensed its
products out to several companies, including IGT, Caesars Gaming,
Bally Technologies, WMS Gaming, Sigma Gaming, Konami Gaming, Action
Gaming, Hasbro, and AC Coin & Slot. As the gaming landscape
transforms, High 5 Games has also been an active leader in the
internet gaming industry, with its games featured on several legal
European websites through WagerWorks / IGT Interactive. We invite you
to come visit our website at www.h5g.com and learn more about our
Here's another good example of getting your foot into the door. High5 says they employ Mathematicians AND they have licensed games to Konami so say you land a job at High5 and work there for 5 years and then apply at Konami for a job as a Game Developer after you get better with your software skills. It would look good that you have experience with a company that Konami has a business relationship with. You could even interface directly with a team at Konami while working at High5. You could also say that you have 'shipped games' @ High5 even if your role was just as a Mathematician.. you had a role in the game being shipped and you can take credit as such.
So what should you take away from this research? Well, I can only give you my opinion and from the short amount of time I spent on this, the answer to your original question is YES, companies that create games hire Mathematicians. Is it the type of games you want to create? I don't have those answers for you but one thing I would suggest is to be careful when making a decision. I can only guess that the Casino Industry is a crazy place to work for, even as a Mathematician or Software Developer but from above, you can see some options for eventually working on mainstream games on consoles and handhelds. Don't sell yourself short, I think it's highly possible to end up as a game developer with just a degree in math. It will take work on your part but it's definitely doable.