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I've been pondering this question for some months now, and have been unable to get an answer from anyone in the industry (likely because I know no one in the industry).

I am currently completing a B.S. in Computer Science, and I want to know if minoring in math will look good on my resume to gaming companies large and small.

I am not set on becoming a game developer, but I certainly want to have that option available to me.

UPDATE: It's been a couple years since I asked this question, and have since graduated WITHOUT the minor. I was able to get a job at an amazing company, but not in game development. I am now personally of the opinion that minors are not really a major selling point for aspiring Software Engineers. The most important thing is building software and showing it off to potential employers.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Josh Petrie Jul 31 at 15:39

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
OT: I can't help by reading "bullshit" on "BS" –  Lohoris Nov 13 '10 at 13:04
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Even if it doesn't help you get hired, a stronger grasp of mathematics will help you with most areas of development. I certainly regret not learning more math when I had the chance! –  adamk Jan 7 '11 at 19:10

7 Answers 7

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Hiring is kind of a black box. It really depends on the person who's looking at your resume/CV.

All I can say is that saying you have a minor in something is just another bullet point. Sometimes that helps. Maybe it shows you're more useful on the heavy math side of programming which some generalists programmers have trouble with. Maybe the person looking over your resume completely skips the education section because it generally isn't relevant.

I can't think of a reason it would hurt, though. At worse it should do nothing.

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"Hiring is kind of a black box. It really depends on the person who's looking at your resume/CV." Good quote for being next to Crashworks's "yes it certainly helps" and my "no". –  user744 Nov 13 '10 at 20:05

If I was looking at your resume, no. A math minor is probably the most common thing to accompany a CS major, and at most universities requires only one or two more classes - sometimes not even that, just a careful choice of electives. It won't hurt you at all, but all it tells me is that you're good at playing the college course picking game, not anything about your skills.

On the other hand, knowing more math can increase your hirability. If the best way for you to learn more math is to take more math classes, then definitely it will.

But if you know the math or would learn it on your own anyway, and don't particularly want to take the courses, I'd pick something else you enjoy. You'll stand out more, have more fun, and have something to talk about in interviews other than matrices.

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math.stackexchange.com! –  bobobobo Nov 14 '10 at 0:21
    
Great Answer, thanks! –  Dream Lane Nov 17 '10 at 14:37

As an engineer at a mid-size studio, if I'm reviewing your resume, then yes it certainly helps -- but it also means that I'd drill deeper into linear algebra and geometry during the interview. It also signals that you are more interested in the systems/engine side of programming.

A minor in the creative arts or language or so on can also be a positive signal, if you are interviewing for a gameplay programmer or hybrid code/design position.

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So what you are saying is that if I have a minor in math on my resume, I'd better be able to back that minor up with actual math skills during interview to make it a valuable addition on the resume? –  Dream Lane Nov 17 '10 at 15:32
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Yes, exactly so. –  Crashworks Nov 17 '10 at 22:59
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I guess that's true of anything you put on your resume. The important thing is that your minor should be something you are good at and truly interested in. It is much better to have a history minor and really love talking about Ancient Rome for hours, than to have a math minor because it seemed like the thing to do. My minors were in english and theatre, and they still ended up helping me out a lot in my career. –  Crashworks Nov 17 '10 at 23:47
    
Thanks for expounding! –  Dream Lane Nov 18 '10 at 3:16

Having more maths knowledge/ability is never a bad thing.

However don't take it as a bullet point for the CV - it's only going to be useful to you, and/or an employer, if you actually get something out of it. Which means actually learning stuff, and being able to demonstrate it in an interview and use it in the real world.

That can be tough, because IME maths is quite often a subject taught without much context. You may have to provide your own - look at what each topic can be used for and you'll probably absorb it a bit better.

I wish I had done this a bit more myself. There are topics in maths I know I covered at university, but didn't take in because I wasn't given any indication of what they were useful for. Now, 15-20 years later I'm coming across things where I need that knowledge... and it's not there ;)

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Great answer! +1 –  Dream Lane Nov 17 '10 at 15:31

I have a B.S. in Computer Science with a minor in math! What they told me in school was that they weren't so much teaching me all the things I had to know, but how to learn on my own. Unless you're at a game-programming school, what you're learning now is generalized and not specific to game development.

Having a minor in math lays the foundation for all the more specialized topics you'll have to learn about on the job. And hopefully, your future employer will see that you have experience with more difficult maths and know that you won't be scared away when they throw hard, boring problems at you ;)

Full disclosure: I'm not currently working in the game industry.

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What are you working in, if you don't mind my asking...? –  Dream Lane Nov 17 '10 at 14:39
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Ha - way to answer 7 months later - I work in the HPC industry building supercomputers. –  i_grok Jun 5 '11 at 16:03

I started off as a B.S in CS and now I am a B.S. in Mathematics. I do not really have any experience with the resumes or the work world however I would say knowing math is very useful. I would further emphasize the fact that the gaming industry appears to be moving towards networked gaming or massively multiply gaming with trends in free-worlds and dynamic playing. A minor will not give you the depth to model much of that but it will give you the ability to understand and appreciate it.

Since it will cover calculus it will give you understanding of the mathematical tools necessary for optimizing situations. Since the math will be available to for the methods you wish to employ it will mainly be up to deciphering a way of implementing it both correctly and optimally.

Almost all games are pushing AI development and implementation into different facets, whether it is NPC or meta-level world and ontology generation and management. At this point computational power is prohibitive for many of the most powerful tools but with a planned career this does not matter so much.

The minor will probably require a statistics class and your knowledge of algorithms will most likely be sufficient. I am not sure if any current games include such computationally expensive simulation methods especially on massively multiplayer scales but I can foresee the use of Monte-Carlo methods.

In any case, perhaps it is merely my bias but I would get an M.S. as well. I imagine that would make you more marketable for a longer time and give you more freedom. Otherwise I imagine you will be just coding, and that seems liable to be outsourced.

Another option for a minor would be psychology, sociology or economics. The first two I imagine would emphasize your ability to appeal to and understand gamers while the third would give you a grasp of markets (many game developers struggle with generating realistic markets for trade) and present the possibility of the managerial route. I imagine a company could at some point (after showing promise) offer to pay for an MBA. I imagine would allow you enjoy both the gaming aspects and the freedom whether you are in a company or decide to manage your own studio and produce games, which increasingly is becoming an option due to digital downloads.

I initially was just going to push math all the way but I imagine the economics minor will give you the most freedom and happiness.

I hope that helps.

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I haven't done any wide program comparisons, but math up through basic linear algebra as well as a statistics course is required for the CS B.Sci. degrees I know about. What you get out of a math minor is usually a little more linear algebra - or like my answer says, sometimes nothing. The choice between an M.Sci. and just going to work is really a toss-up in my experience. The most common reasons I see programmers with M.Sci. is because it helped them immigrate. They were just as good (or bad) as people with a couple years work experience on average. –  user744 Nov 14 '10 at 12:06
    
+1 I don't know why this got marked down, it seems a well thought out response. –  adamk Jan 7 '11 at 19:07

I know this is a pretty late reply but I just thought I should throw it out here for anyone with similar questions. I did econ major undergrad in UC Berkeley too. But after I finish, I wish I did a technical/science/math major because Economics is very general. You have to go to PhD to really make it worth it. Unless, you're planning on going to graduate school with your philosophy for Law or something like that, I really recommend you minor in Math. The decrease in GPA will be justifiable as math major average GPA will always tend to be lower, at Cal, it's like 2.7. From a recruiter perspective, I would take a person with 3.5 GPA with math minor over 3.8 Economics only. Skills vs just numbers. I had a friend who did economics and math and she got into investment banking.

Sources:

http://www.math.berkeley.edu/programs/undergraduate/minoring-mathematics

http://www.careerdean.com/c/2/incoming-freshmen-if-know-want-have-career-business-it-wise-major-computer-science-also-learn-the-technical-side-or-stick-more-traditional-major-like-economics

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