Tell us about yourself.
I'm Tom. Before joining the bootcamp, I was working as a senior analyst in banking, a role I had gone into straight after my undergraduate degree, and wasn't really enjoying or finding any satisfaction in my work. Since finishing the bootcamp and interviewing for about 4 months, I've gotten a job at Rebellion in their Warwick office as a Junior Gameplay Programmer working on a number of really exciting projects.
Why did you decide to join the bootcamp?
I had applied for a few jobs in the industry but wasn't having much luck getting interviews. My friend who works as a social media manager for a games job board saw the opportunity pop up and sent it my way, I thought it would only help my chances and give me something to do while looking.
What did you like the most about your bootcamp experience?
The ability to get so much 1-2-1 support from industry veterans. Joining the bootcamp made me realise how little I actually knew about programming in the games industry. My mentor William supported me so much, providing invaluable advice on a weekly basis to really push and get the most out of me. Most importantly though, he believed in me and made me realise my dream was achievable.
"Understand that getting a job in games isn't easy, but you're not alone. Reach out to the people around you both personally and professionally, and don't hesitate to lean on them for support."
Tell us about your job search process.
The games industry is incredibly competitive, and this is something you really need to have in mind when searching. You can apply for 50 companies and only get responses from 2. The key is persistence. Ask for feedback at every opportunity, and always keep improving your applications. There were some points where my motivation was very low, but I think understanding that it's normal and ok to feel that way is important. The main thing that kept me motivated was working on something, even if it wasn't going to be finished, having something to do helped me remember that I really have a passion for game development, and the enjoyment in what I do kept me going.
What’s your advice on building a portfolio that got you noticed by recruiters?
The biggest piece of advice I can give is not to over-scope your projects. While it can be tempting to make your 'dream game', it's better for a portfolio (which is supposed to show off your skills!) to be a series of short, polished verticle slices. They don't have to be long or complicated, but you want to showcase something in each. A specific programming technique, maybe something in a different engine, or even showing the process of implementing a mechanic of an existing game. Keep to a format for each project, making sure to include plenty of screenshots and a video playthrough of each so recruiters don't have to download your project. I really like doing a 'deep dive' on a few snippets of code too, taking a few functions and explaining your thought process.
Gameplay of Tokusatsu Panic, a game developed by Tom
How important were networking and community building?
Absolutely essential. I did a lot of work networking inside and outside of Mastered. The course provides a great opportunity for collaboration and realising that it's not just you going through this journey! Look into local game developer meetups in your area and attend them. The game development community is incredibly friendly, and industry professionals are always happy to give advice.
What helped you most during the interview process?
Reaching out to interviewers before the interview. Interviewers aren't trying to catch you out, and they genuinely want you to succeed. Connecting with your interviewers on something like LinkedIn before the interview to ask any questions you might have about the process or company is incredibly helpful. Do your research, and you'll be putting yourself in the best possible position to get the job.
What are your tips for creators looking to become a games programmer?
Understand that getting a job in games isn't easy, but you're not alone. Reach out to the people around you both personally and professionally, and don't hesitate to lean on them for support. If you work hard and stay persistent, you can achieve your dreams.
Connect with Tom on Twitter at @Woeger_ and on Discord at woeger.