I'm a self taught programmer and for the past few years I have been programming and learning how to develop games/game engines. I have learned a lot and finally feel confident enough in my programming skill to apply for jobs. However, I know getting game programming jobs can be tough, especially without a CS degree. I figure my best chance is to apply for as many jobs as I can in the areas for which I wish to live. To help increase my chances of employment, I was wondering if there were other, non-game specific jobs out there that still satisfy the interests and talents of a game engine developer. Are there certain other professions that low level game programmers will often find just as interesting? I'm just hoping to get an idea of what my other potential options are given my current skill set and portfolio.
Jobs like at animation companies like Pixar would definitely be related but they're probably similar recruitment as big game companies.
GIS & mapping related jobs.
NASA and space related places.
Programmer on indie game startups, as they don't seem to mind about the CS degrees. I've found coding in unity rewarding in it's own way and seeing how a professional engine works and it's api is a great learning experience. Also being apart of the whole art pipeline, project management, team member is also a great experience.
One thing I think is important is if you really want to work in a particular area, don't lower your sights too much, and think about who you have to become to work at a place like that. If you want to work at RAD game tools, what type of programmer & person would you have to become. And spend some time asking yourself "what do I really want to do?".
I was in a similar position, looking for jobs that were related. I took an internship at a web programming job, but wasn't as rewarding as I was hoping. And realised I wanted to do game engine/game programming stuff, instead of web programming.
In my experience (in Sweden), a CS degree is not as important as you may think. You just have to prove your worth in some other way, no matter the field. Companies want people that they think can solve their problems, and that they think will work well together with the rest of the team.
Thanks for the insight and encouragement gentlemen. And Oliver, I do definitely enjoy the idea of developing game/programming related tools. I do hear alot about RAD but do you know of any other companies besides RAD that develop similar things? Just to get more of an idea whats out there.
Not off the top of my head, only the companies Casey interviewed at HandmadeCon (Naughty Dog & Blizzard), and Thekla (Jon Blow's company). But don't really know much more. But would love to hear what other people have to say.
Just launching a random game and looking at middleware logos could give you some ideas:
Firelight Technologies (FMOD)
Simplygon Studios (Simplygon)
Autodesk and Adobe (but according to what I hear, they're better at patenting algorithms than at programming).