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Can I get a job at a video game company from high school without going to college?

I heard that video game companies hire people from high school, and you can still be a success. Is that true? What do they do? I don't know how to make games yet, but I would be willing to learn. Also if there are other jobs that I can get from high school that aren't making the games, but are still at the video game company, then I would be willing to learn to do that too.

I don't think my school really teaches me anything about jobs (it's just a lot of social studies and math and science and writing) but I really want to learn about how to be a success, and I like playing video games a lot and talking about video games with my friends. If I do have to go to college, then it's a lot of money for me and my family, so if college is really important, then can I still be a success if I go to a state school instead of going to a private college that costs more money? college video-games gaming job-requirements

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Brice’s Answer

I know hundreds of people in the games industry and only ONE of them didn't go to college. So it's very, very difficult. Majoring in Computer Science can get you into any game company.


If you want to learn how to make games, then you should start making games now, in high school. That's when I started. Download a free copy of Game Maker - http://www.yoyogames.com/studio and make some games. Then try more complicated stuff like Unity - http://unity3d.com/ (also free)


For your comment: "I don't think my school really teaches me anything about jobs" - this isn't really true. If you can get good grades in school then you will be able to do a really good job later. It doesn't even really matter what the course is in (Writing, Social Studies), but the grade does matter. Learning how to get good grades IS THE SKILL, because it teaches you how to get the job done. If you applied for a programming job, but I saw that you failed writing and social studies, I wouldn't hire you because I'd know you can't get the job done.


If you're willing to study and work hard, then you can do whatever you want. It's not about smarts, it's about who works the hardest.


Good luck!

Props for telling it like it is! Jared Chung, Admin BACKER
Thank you for the link to Game Maker and Unity and for the advice! Marquis T.
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Leeanne’s Answer

Yes you can, however you will most likely need to work harder and do more research learning the different programming languages and work place etiquette that you would otherwise learn in college. There is a better chance of getting an interview if you have the credentials to back up your skill but it is not impossible.


Advice: If you are unable to attend college for this and want to get your foot in the door, I would suggest taking an internship to learn from people in the industry and getting hands on experience.

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Estevan’s Answer

Speaking only from a software engineering career point of view its very important to have an extremely solid base in computer science if you are interested in making video games. Software engineers are responsible for coding everything you you see and play in the game, for example the graphics, the physics, what happens when you click a button on a menu, how enemies react when you attack them and so on. Writing code for video games is pretty diverse and you will need a solid understanding of CS principles like algorithms, data structures, how memory works, algebra/trig/vector math and so on (I would recommend you look at the curriculum for a CS program from a school on line to get an idea of all the work involved).


That said, I have done a lot of interviews with recent college graduates and do not pay much attention to the school they went to when making my hiring decision. I care about two primary things at the end of the day




  1. Do they have a solid CS fundamentals: One of the most straight forward ways, but certainly not the only way, to gain these skills is to pursue higher education; again the name of the school and its reputation don't matter that much to me. You could be self taught even. The important thing is you have learned the skills and can demonstrate a mastery of the material.




  2. What projects have they completed that show a passion for making software or games: This really has nothing to do with school, but if you are interested in making games for a living some universities do offer majors with a concentration on creating games. Completing projects (and completing is a key word here, a bunch of half finished games don't impress people as much as one finished game) not only shows dedication but is a great way to hone your skills and provides a practical way to demonstrate your CS skills.




One other note about school. While the name may not be super important the people you meet and collaborate with can be invaluable, whether they are other students or members of the faculty. Doing a group project with a bunch of like minded individuals while getting input from a professor can teach you a lot of lessons useful in your professional career.

Thank you so much! Marquis T.
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Eric’s Answer

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As others have mentioned, it is not impossible, but much harder. Hiring departments might even automatically screen resumes that don't list a college or university. Working at a game company (and many other companies) requires skills, experience and knowledge that you can't acquire after just four years in high school.


Others have mentioned this also, but most colleges and universities offer bursaries (a scholarship based on demonstrated financial need). Many colleges offer internship or co-op placements, which are a work-study program so that students can earn money in a real-world job setting. I went to school at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and did six co-op placements, earning enough to nearly cover all of my tuition, books and accommodation for the last three years of my university education.


I would encourage you at this point to seek out either a volunteer position or a part-time internship at a game company near you. This will give you a chance to see what it's like working at a game company, and let you see and talk to people in different roles at a game company. Perhaps you guidance counsellor can help you arrange this.

Ok but can you be hire as a character designer straight out of high school and if so How would I do this Nic L.
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Iliya’s Answer

I work as a software engineer so I am part of the team that makes the games so I can answer your question for my position.
I have heard of some people getting hired out of high school to game companies but those are VERY rare. For all the software engineering/software development positions that I have ever seen a minimum of a bachelor degree is required for your application to even be considered.
Given that, software engineering positions tend to be a lot more based on your abilities and knowledge then which school you went to. You don't need to go to a super expensive private college to be able to get a job if you have the knowledge and abilities to be able to compete with the other people applying for the job.


The interview process tends to be very rigorous and you are tested on being able to solve problems thrown at you rather than just talking about yourself. One thing to keep in mind is that a computer science degree that you get at a college will tech you the basics but will not go into much detail about the newest technology. You are expected to be interested enough in the field to go out and learn about that on your own for the most part. In that sense someone going to a private college is not always better then someone going to a state college, it all depends on how much independent learning you do on top of the degree.

Thank you so much! If I can go to college and get good grades I think maybe I can get a good job so I can pay for my loans. Marquis T.
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John’s Answer

I believe it is always better to get a proper formal education as it can only help when trying to secure a job, be it with a Video game company or not.


In this day and age, when companies are looking to hire, typically there are multiple applicants for a single position, and most companies consider education level a BIG plus.

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Alec’s Answer

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Definitely! But I would not recommend it. However much hard work you think you would need to do in school to get a degree is nothing compared to the hard work you would need to put in to get a job without a degree. To design video games you do need to know a lot about computer science which is taught very well in school and is much harder to teach yourself. Having a degree in a related field tells an employer that you know all these concepts and have the skills necessary to do your job effectively. Without a degree you need to be able to prove you have those skills which can be very difficult.


But there is more to getting a job than knowing the concepts and possessing the skills, and it's true for every job you could get at a video game company: you need to show passion and enthusiasm about your job. This is true whether you have a degree or not, and the easiest way to do it is to get started now! I got into making video games while still in high school and it started with creating a guild page for neopets using html. Then I started looking into gamemaker (http://www.yoyogames.com/studio) which is a fantastic resource to make games for beginners while still teaching you important concepts. From there I learned to program in java and made a Tower Defense game in my spare time. By the time I went to post-secondary school I already had experience making some games and programming and that really helped me get my first programming internship. So start now! Download gamemaker and see if you enjoy making games as much as you enjoy playing them. If you enjoy talking about games try writing down an idea for a game yourself! See what part of video games gets you excited and try it out for yourself, because if employees can see how excited you are about your job that will get you very far.

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Matt’s Answer

Anything is possible: I have 14 years of experience as a Software Engineer, but I do not have a degree. However, I would not advise doing so. Some of it was luck, but most of it was hard work, steep learning curves, and lots of extra time spent working away from friends and family. And all of that won't help you with companies that just won't consider you without a degree.


If I had to do it all over again, I would get a business degree that could be applied on anything and take some computer science classes. For example, there's a lot of vocabulary that is only distributed academically and without that it's hard to communicate with others about work.

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Eve’s Answer

Hi Marquis!


I'm one of those people who didn't go to college/university who works in the games industry.


I've been a QA tester for a few years now and initially wanted to move up and out of testing. My opinion soon changed, however, and now I've found my testing niche and I absolutely love my job. Had I gone into higher education and specialised then I might not have found my calling.


A passion in games and the industry itself is the first thing you'll need. Being interested is key, because you'll be drowning in games when you start your career! If you're interested in art or programming then there are tonnes of free tutorials and learning portals online that are a great place to start. Communities around the internet (like polycount) will give you priceless feedback and help you to develop the skills you'll need to join more specialised parts of the industry.


I hope I could help! Best of luck in your endeavours!

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Christy’s Answer

You need to understand that making games is a lot different from the simple fun of playing games. When you play games, you have the luxury of playing purely for enjoyment. But when you're making games, you have to evaluate every single thing you do, every action, every decision to make sure that you're creating the best experience for other people and not just for yourself.


All the subjects you're being taught in school are vital to working in games. "Learning to be a success" is meaningless. Learning is important. Learning as much as you can about everything is important to becoming a success. To be good in videogames, you need to be good in math, know about history and art, and be good at writing and communicating.


Another decision you need to make is what aspect of making games can you do. There are many, many different ways to contribute to making a game. There are different types of jobs for designers, programmers, artists & animators, sound engineers, music composers, producers, managers, QA (Quality Assurance) testers and so on.


It would difficult to get a meaningful job in games right out of high school. There are a few companies that offer internships, but those seem to go mainly to students in college who have shown strong ability.


There are schools that specifically offer game design courses. Two of the main ones are Full Sail in Florida and the Guildhall in Texas, but many other universities and colleges are now offering various kinds of videogame courses.


So first, decide what part of making a game fits your abilities and your passion. Read some books on making games to find out more about this.


Second, investigate which colleges offer videogame courses that will help you learn what you need to know.


Third, just to get a sense of what is required to get a job in the videogame business, go to gamasutra.com and read the requirements on the jobs board for the various kinds of jobs. Also, gamasutra is packed with thousands of good, useful articles about making games.

Thank you very much for the information and for the link. I will look for colleges that offer videogame courses and see if they are right for me. Just one more question. What is a narrative designer? I see it next to your name. Marquis T.
A Narrative Designer is someone who knows how to mesh storytelling and writing with gameplay. It's a combination of being a game designer and a game writer. Christy Marx
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Scott’s Answer

Hi Marquis,


I think it's actually harder to try to get a job in the Games industry without a college degree than it is to go to college first, then find your dream job. One reason for this is that for most people, it's much, much harder to learn new skills without having a teacher or mentor. You'll need to learn fundamentals of game design, some basic coding, and some basic art skills to do anything in the games industry. If you have a specific role in mind, then you will want to dive deeper into that role - for example if you want to make the games work then you'll need to be an engineer and learn how to code. If you want to make the games look good then you'll want to be an artist and you'll need to hone your art skills by practice, practice, practice, as well as learn some software used in creating art for games such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator (for 2D art) and something like Autdesks Maya or 3D Studio Max for 3D art (plus you'll probably need to learn a sculpting program like ZBrush for the higher end of 3D).
All of this stuff can be very complicated! You will be on good footing with a college degree - keep in mind that when you apply for a job you will be competing with people that have gone to college, so learning on the job is most likely not an option unless you are very, very lucky.
It might be possible to get a job in QA without going to college, but these jobs are usually not stable unless you have some demonstrable programming skills. Without knowing how to code, your QA jobs will mostly be temporary contracts instead of stable, full time employment.
Hope this helps! The good news is - learning how to make games is honestly as much fun as playing games! Have fun out there!

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Caroline’s Answer

Actually in some states companies do hire 18yr. olds to do game testing, My husband did this for a company in Arizona for a while. I would call around and see if maybe for summer if you would maybe be able to get something part-time.

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