Note: this post was delayed by one day on account of my Internet connection going down

Happy Returns?

Today was my 25th birthday. One quarter of a century has past since I was born. One score and five years ago, I came forth into this world.

All right, enough of that

I looked in the mirror today, and felt a wave of emotions come crashing over me.

First I was happy, excited even. I don’t usually get excited about birthdays, much less my own. So this was strange. Maybe I was just happy and had brushed my teeth extra hard, providing me with a fluoride rush (is there such a thing?).

Then came the sadness. For some reason my mind fixated on the fact that I was 25 years old (roughly 1/3 of my life expectancy – as I calculate it), and wanted desperately to list all of the things I had accomplished.

  1. Attained a degree in Computer Science
  2. Studied Japanese for five years

I was sure that there where other things, but couldn’t really list them.

Accomplishments

OK, so I hold a bachelors degree in Computer Science with a specialisation in video games development. That sounds quite impressive, if I do say so myself. However, I can’t seem to get a job doing anything even mildly related. I’ve put it down to the fact that we’re on our way out of a recession – one that started just as I graduated back in ’08. I seem afraid to admit that I might not be the best candidate for the job, though.

Maybe the reason I haven’t been successful is that I haven’t applied to any games companies directly, which means I haven’t had a need to build up a portfolio of games work that I can submit to them during the application process. I did have an interview for CodeMasters, but from the questions I was asked it was clear that they wanted someone with an MSc rather than a plain old BSc.

The other jobs I’ve been applying for have been Software Engineering ones. I’ve applied for them simply because the core techniques involved in Software Engineering and Gamed Development are the same, mainly the development models (Waterfall, RAD, Milestone, etc) . The only difference is that Games Developers are trying to squeeze every last drop of power out of the system using extremely low level programming languages like C or C++; whereas Software Engineering (especially the roles I’ve been going for) have been web development mixed with a lot of high level stuff like .NET and C#.

I can hold my end up using C# and .NET, and I appreciate that there are times when high level, managed code is essential, or even better at doing the job. But coming from a background of assembly, C and C++ I’m more comfortable in those languages.

The other main problem with Software Engineering roles is that there is a list of requirements as long as your arm that the applicant has to have. Things like:

C#, PHP, .NET, SQL, Ruby, CSS and Abab experience essential

And that’s for an entry level Software Engineer? Where is a fresh graduate going to gain experience in all of those languages? Seriously. Especially since one of those is a proprietary language and only available through an expensive licence.

Japanese Study

Yes, I’ve studied Japanese for five years. I can hold my own in a conversation – so long as the person(s) I’m talking to don’t mind being a little patient with me – and I can read my way through simple manga.

All this, and I’ve only had the chance to go once!? And for only a few weeks!?

I’d thought – once, a long time ago – that I could use some Japanese language training to help me get a job out there doing (surprise, surprise) video game development. But that seems to have gone the way of the Dodo, too.

Compromise?

I’d spend less time thinking about this kind of thing, if it weren’t for the fact that my current employment contract runs out in six weeks. There’s talk of keeping me on, by to be completely honest, I’m not sure if I want to do it.

As my good friend Leigh said, a few weeks back:

You feel like your stagnating…

And he hit the nail right on the head. I really do feel like I’m stagnating. I’m not using the skills and techniques I’ve studied over the years, and I feel that they’ve started to get a little rusty. I don’t feel like I have to time to brush up on them either, at the minute. On top of that, I feel like I’m stuck in this city – with no job prospects here, I really HAVE to move on, but can’t seem find the funds or employment that will allow me to do it.

Maybe I should just stop thinking about all this, and go with the flow; ride the waves, so to speak.

Maybe.

J

Jamie is a .NET developer specialising in ASP.NET MVC websites and services, with a background in WinForms and Games Development. When not programming using .NET, he is either learning about .NET Core (and usually building something cross platform with it), speaking Japanese to anyone who'll listen, learning about languages, writing for this blog, or writing for a blog about Retro Gaming (which he runs with his brother)