I've been recently working with DirectX and getting familiar with game engines, sub-systems and have done game development for the last 5 years. I have a real question for those whom have worked in larger game making companies before. How is it possible to get to into these big game creators such as Ubisoft, Infinity Ward or EA.

I'm not a beginner in my field and I'm going to produce a real nice 2D platform with my team this year, which is the result of 5 years 2D game creation experience. I'm working with prepared engines such as Unity3D or Game Maker software and using .Net with C# to write many tools for our production and proceeding in my way but never had a real engine programming experience 'till now.

I'm now reading good books around this topic but I wanted to know: Is it possible to become an employee in big game company by just reading books? I mean beside having an active mind and new ideas and being a solution solver.

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    \$\begingroup\$ By just reading books? Not likely. The experience you're gaining right now should be far more valuable than book reading. However, the tools and languages you're using are pretty high level for many of the major game companies. You may want to look into expanding those skills. \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Mar 29, 2012 at 20:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Visible Experience (Released projects & Repos) > Theoretical Knowledge of Theory. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29, 2012 at 20:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you looked at the requirements for those job postings you might be interested in? Have you written and/or sent in resumes? Done phone interviews? What do books have to do with anything? \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetrad
    Mar 29, 2012 at 21:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused. You say you have experience, are working in a team, and are working on projects then ask if it's possible to get into a big games company by just reading books. You aren't just reading books. What's the actual question here? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2012 at 1:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you're working in a team making a "real nice 2D platform" game, why would you want to work for one of the big companies where you will have less say so over what you do or make? I have never really understood the attraction to working for a big game company as a coder. It's most likely not going to be what you think it is. Just my opinion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joey Green
    Mar 30, 2012 at 17:52

4 Answers 4


I have never worked in a game company of any size. However:

Become an employee in big game company by just reading books?

If you then get certified, maybe. If you don't even have a related degree or demonstrable work, why would the employer assume you have any skills at all? And if you do, why would they care what books you've read? With job applications, saying "I've read about X" makes no difference at best and hurts your chances at worst.

I have games that I made and would like to work at a games company.

I don't see why not. I'm sure the fact that you can demonstrate your ability will be a big plus during the selection process.

I made a 2D platformer while avoiding engine programming as much as possible and would like to get a job programming state of the art engines.

No offense, but this is like saying "I have driven a racecar that other people maintained and repaired, can I become a car mechanic?". If you want to work on engines, you should work on engines. In practice, that means make a 3D game, write your own engine, and have it do something interesting.

Maybe the employer will see your unrelated programming experience and decide that you are worth hiring due to the overall skills you must have. But it seems a really bad idea to bank on that.

Also, out of curiosity, if you already have a team which can release a game, why are you trying to get a job at a big company? I had gotten the impression that they're quite awful places to work at if you want to make games.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "If you want to work on [X], you should work on [X]." \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2012 at 1:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks about your very clear answer. The situation that I have here is not something explainable to the others and I avoid it. The aim was to research about how these companies employing the people. I saw some ads from Rockstar or other places and they really need tough programmers for their part of job. Anyway, I got my answer thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – MahanGM
    Mar 30, 2012 at 7:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "they're quite awful places to work at if you want to make games"; just my opinion but I think it would be far more interesting working in an indie team where you get a greater variation in the tasks you will do, than be a little cog in a giant team. I would imagine that saying "I designed the Normandy for Mass Effect" would be pretty awesome, but the more realistic quote would be "I textured that little screen you see in locations XYZ and ABC..." \$\endgroup\$
    – sebf
    Mar 30, 2012 at 11:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @sebf, you're funny man ;). Yeah I've been thinking quite a while about this and I was saying to myself if someone ask me "who is the vendor of RAGE?" I would tell Id not nobody else :)). \$\endgroup\$
    – MahanGM
    Mar 31, 2012 at 21:00

I am an engineering lead and hiring manager in the games industry.

Is it possible to become an employee in big game company by just reading books?

No. Reading books is all well and good, but it doesn't impart the practical knowledge that even entry-level positions require. A fresh-faced college graduate with a CS degree under her belt has, if nothing else, four years of having actually written code and solved problems of varying complexity and will hands-down beat out somebody who has done nothing but read books for a job interview.

But it sounds like, from your original question, you've actually been working on making games for the last five years anyhow, so you should have at least some practical experience -- I'm not even sure this question you've posed even applies to you. Finished games are far more useful than the assertion of book knowledge (even for those who want to be "engine" programmers, because a finished game demonstrates the effectiveness and quality of an "engine" far more than the engine would on its own).

How is it possible to get to into these big game creators such as Ubisoft, Infinity Ward or EA.

You apply for a job, same as any other industry. Prepare a portfolio of your best projects and code and send that with your resume, if asked. There's nothing special about games.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey you're a great resource to me right here. So as @chaosTechnician said interviewers are much more interested in what you have done than what you know is really true. I don't know maybe I didn't look for proper question there but at least I got my answer. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – MahanGM
    Mar 30, 2012 at 7:49

I don't currently have a job at a "big game company" but I am looking for one and have interviewed to various extents with many of them: Bungie, Rockstar, Microsoft, Amazon, EA, Disney, etc. I have received one offer and am expecting to hear back from another of those companies tomorrow.

From the questions I've been asked, having book knowledge is, of course, helpful and will get you through a lot of the programming-specific interviews; to be a programmer, you're obviously going to need to know programmer things. Much of this can be learned by reading if that's how you learn. In every interview, though, I have pulled heavily from knowledge I picked up by doing various projects both professionally and as a hobby and being able to show things I've worked on—sometimes by pulling out my phone and showing a mobile game or by pointing them to my software development blog. My experiences have shown that interviewers are much more interested in what you have done than what you know. At a games programming panel at this year's GDC, the speakers all agreed that they want to see what you've done and don't care as much about schooling or book knowledge. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

As Superbest said, if you want to be an engine programmer, start programming engines. Similarly, if you want to be a gameplay programmer, write games and be able to show them off. They're very different disciplines that work together but are still quite different.

Additionally, there's more to being in a games programming job than knowing how to write code in a specific language. If your reading doesn't also include learning what makes games programming different from other kinds of programming, that may hurt you. If you can't demonstrate that you will mesh with the group, that may hurt you. In one interview, I spent over an hour doing linear algebra on a whiteboard, if you don't know the math that company is looking for, that may hurt you. In short, you're going to want to be well-rounded in ways that only reading programming books probably isn't going to enhance.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for sharing your experience. If you say so then it must be really depend upon what you've done. I do a little math but I'm not that too hard! I'm working on engines right now as you mentioned that would be more precious. Thanks. BTW, Hope you get the job that you like it! \$\endgroup\$
    – MahanGM
    Mar 30, 2012 at 7:45

I'd suggest "no" too.

Reading books on it's own can get you to a certain level of knowledge, yes. You can become quite competent and capable, even.

Going to college and doing a 4 year course gets you one thing that no book in the world can give. You are able to demonstrate straight away that you are able to begin a 4-year project, stick to it, see it through, and get a result at the end.

Another disadvantage of just reading books is the risk that you might pick and choose the parts you like (or the parts you understand!) and skim over (or just copy/paste) the rest. You don't have that option with a course; you have to knuckle down and learn all the horrible stuff, you have to learn the theory behind it and the reasons why.

Yes, there are the occasional mavericks who never went to college and who obtained their knowledge other ways (John Carmack is probably the best known example) but you'll find that they're extremely rare and that they are generally people who start their own companies rather than people who get jobs at existing companies.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for advice. I know what you're saying, I had a real good experience in development, never escaped from nothing in my projects and I'd try to be the next J. Carmack :) My question was in some sort of getting knowledge about these major companies. Thanks again. \$\endgroup\$
    – MahanGM
    Mar 31, 2012 at 21:05

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