Is it hard to become a Game Developer?

Andrew Velez
Posted on 2/15/2019Last Modified: 2/15/2019

I love game development. Now that i am a Game developer i can’t see myself doing anything else with my life. When i was 17 i made the decision to follow my passion and choose to make games. All i knew was that I was getting into a industry that was impossible to break into. I still remember my first impression of game developers.
I was watching a youtube video by two game developers. I don’t even know who they were but i remember them talking about how much money they make. They said they were living off of 20k a year. This was completely unimportant to me. What captured my attention was their entusiasm. I could tell they loved what they did even though they were stuggling financially. Thats all i needed to hear for me to decide.
I commited there and then to take the leap. I traveled across the country from NY to UT to take a chance on my dream. I enrolled in Neumont College of Computer Science. I knew nothing about the school i was going to just that they were the only school i applied to that had a dedicated Game Development degree.
I sit here with a debt of around 80k but my mind is steadfast. The education i got at Neumont is one of the best decisions of my life. At the time I couldn’t see it because of all the work and uncertainty. Sure they boasted a hire rate of 97% but that was for software engineer jobs. Everyday i was at that school it felt like i would come out of it unable to find the job of my dreams.

Fear as motivation.

That fear i felt while attending Neumont was paralying in some instances. It pushed me away from the very reason i became a game developer. My love for video games took a back burner. Those 3000 hours i spent grinding to rank 800 in League of Legends (a game with millions of players) were staring me dead in the face. Was this passion for gaming the same as being a game developer? The truth is being a gamer is nothing like being a game developer.

During my third year of University i quit playing video games. I found a volunteer position creating a coloring game for a non profit in NY. I worked on my portfolio and dedicated myself to side projects. Not only did i have side projects i also did multiple school sponsored internships.
I graduated with a 3.75 gpa but After 6 months searching for work and turning down positions at non gaming companies my outlook turned bleak. By chance i got a call from the company i interned at. The recommendations i got from my internship was what got me in the door at IGT. I had an opportunity to prove myself and in the beautiful city of Seattle. A city booming with game development opportunities.
I was in PA at the time living with my sister. I was surviving on 400 a month, half of that going to rent. I had been able to save up 600 dollars working as a tutor online for game development. I made a measly 3000 dollars in those 6 months as a game development tutor.

Taking advantage of my opportunity

That fear I experienced spending all my savings to fly to Seattle and interview was the biggest leap of faith i ever took. My loans were about the exit forebarance and there was no way i was going to be able to afford the next months payment. I believed in myself and knew that no matter i would find a way.
I spent the next 3 weeks reading every book on JavaScript i could. I did nothing but read as much as i could and do coding challenges. It paid of because during that 5 hour interview process i didn’t get a single answer wrong. I was on fire and i could feel myself working with my interviewers.
I emailed every interviewer and thanked them personally. They provided me with great insight into the culture. Because of their raw honesty i felt confident going to work for them. Working for IGT on DoubleDown was the funest ive had as a game developer.
That uncertainty and fear i felt all throughtout is something you have to be prepared for. If you really want to become a Game Developer than it recquires some luck and the willingness to take advantage of that luck. I believe we make our own luck! Putting 100% into my internships is what got me my glowing recommendation. Dedicating myself entirely to my degree and projects payed off. Now that you know my journey does it motivate you or discourage you? Would you have caved and got the first job you were offered or would you have taken a leap and waited for something you’re really passionate about.
I always tell myself i’d rather be poor and doing what i love then rich and settle.

Andrew Velez
Posted on 2/15/2019Last Modified: 2/15/2019


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