Age of entry

I haven?t been able to find a thread about this, so I need to create a new one to ask a question. This came up bootface's thread, asking advice on getting into the industry at age 32. I?m wondering what is people's opinion on the age of entry for a game industry worker? I realise that the average age of entry must be about mid 20's, but does that reduce the chances of an older person breaking in? If a person's skills are good enough for the position, will that be enough, or are employers only interested in young blood that won?t burn out as quickly (in the employers mind anyway)? Does an older person require years of industry experience to get a job, or is it possible for people of any age to break into the games industry?

Pantmonger's picture

I was fresh and new and started working in the industry at the age of 28 give or take a couple of months. This was about a year ago. I dont think age matters that much.

Pantmonger

Malus's picture

Same with me, a spritely 28, actually I got the call on my birthday. But maybe my boyish goodlooks helped....cough. [:P]

I think Pantmonger got a gig because he wasn't wearing panties in his interview, didn't ya, you saucy minx! lol [;)]

Seriously though, sometimes older employees have worked in other fields and have proven they can handle the stressfull workload while alot of younger employees may have alot of steam and new ideas but they haven't all had the chance to prove themselves, and you could argue younger people are less set in there ways and easier to mould, it really depends on what the company is after.

But in the end age really isn't all that valid, its more about a balance of skills, experience and attitude in my opinion.

souri's picture

I was about 26 or so when I embarked on developing Sumea, in the hope of getting my foot in the game development door at some stage, and away from design and web development. I'm 29 now, and I'm not even a step closer to that goal. I've ended up doing more design and web development than ever before, and absolutely zilch on game art.
I'm probably at a crossroads at the moment on whether I should just stop what I'm doing now (most of my time is spent on Sumea) and focus entirely on building some sort of game art portfolio, or head back into web design where i should find a job much easier.

If you're around 30, it'll definately be tougher getting that junior/entry position, where the employer isn't hoping to pay that much for a salary. But in any other case, your work should speak much louder than your age.

Personally, I feel that with every year that passes, it'll just get harder and harder for someone like myself to get there.

unknownuser2's picture

Im 24 and feel nice and young now that all the old soldiers replied to this one before me [:P]
I have to agree with Souri's point regarding the salary demands being higher for an older person as they are more than likely at the 'buying a house' stage or maybe even 'having children' stage or even both [:O]

For an entry level position paying 30k - 35k its going to be tough with all that. So it would be a big gamble and something you really REALLY want to do and have the time to put into.

Ultimately, and this is what i have picked up over the course of 18 odd months building my team, is that what Dean mentions about attitude, skills and experience ( to Kalescent studios thats in order of preference ) A balance of the last 2 are fine, but having a good attitude is paramount, at least to me it is [:P]

Theres a certain element that i may as well call the X-Factor when looking for an employee / contractor, and it can be had and found in all people somewhere, its hard to describe but its basically the instant likeable feeling you get when meeting someone, and thats about it. Age doesnt really come into it at all IMO not from an employers point of view anyway.

Me109's picture

I'd like to think that there isnt an age thingy going on in the industry.. I made it in at 27 after seriously trying for the past 4 or so years... It was only after I got enough work together I feel... As for wages well I'd always like to get more.. but as I see it.. this whole thing is going to be a life long adventure of learning and all that good stufff.. The only problem with age I guess is that you also have to compete with younger and younger people who are as equally talented.. the thing with young people is they tend to be a bit flighty.. easily change job for more money.. or they think they can do better.. where as the older .. like me.. are more likely to be loyal etc.. In reality at the end of the day you need a strong portfolio that covers alot of different bases.. leadership is an important thing too that needs to be emphasised with age.. ya know? still my situation and everyone elses are different... i believe that everyone has equal oppotunity and its important not to let age scare ya.. cause everyone gets old eventually.

palantir's picture

Thanks for all the replies guys, very informative. It?s pretty much what I assumed, that skill, attitude and experience (of some kind) is what counts, but I just had a thought that possibly I was wasting my time with big ambitions of making games professionally. Though now that I know some of your stories, I feel like my dream does have some basis in reality [:P]

I?m 27 and realistically I think I will be at least 30 by the time I?m ready to try for a major studio (still have 3 years of planned study/formal training ahead of me!). Even though I know it will be difficult, it?s good to know that it?s quite possible for a 30 year old to break in.

And I suppose if the enthusiasm, determination and business sense (and courage) is there, it?s always possible to get into professional games development by starting up your own studio. I guess if someone wants in bad enough, there would always be a way, regardless of age.

Jacana's picture

I am with all the other old farts in the thread :)

My "official" first gig in games I started at the age of 27.

For what it is worth, I have been doing a lot of online game administration for MUD's and such since about 1996 ( so since 19 / 20 age wise ).

I have actually found that all that work now is actually quite looked at in my resume. Mind you it is more so there are padding for my 6 month stint instead of what got me the job.

Barry Dahlberg's picture

Just do it!

:)

Blitz's picture

Age isn't really a problem, your circumstances are. If you have a wife and kids, employers will consider that you may have more difficulty working long hours. If you have a mortgage or some other loan to pay off, you may require a higher wage, and/or will have to quit if times get a little tough financially.
Also, what Malus said about younger guys being easier to mould is also true, especially as projects get larger, employers want the same coding or artistic standards to prevail throughout the product. However, i would see this as one of those "tie-breaker" employment issues. ie. an employer will only really take this into account when making a decision between two prospects that are equal in all other departments.
CYer, Blitz

Malus's picture

Blitz:
There are alot of people who are married with kids and a mortgage at work, I don't think that is or should be an issue too anyone except the employee and their families, they do just as many hours as the unmarried etc.

I have to add that although when I stated younger people 'may' be easier to mould it was a generalisation, not an age specific area either, lots of younger people are pigheaded and stubborn, thinking of most teenagers I know, they think they know everything, I know I did lol. [:P]

The point is age shouldn't be relevant to employers, its not a young persons industry as people tend to think, it just the hours etc may be easier on younger people who tend to have less responsiblities like families.

----------------
This is off topic but I would like to hear about what people think about the view some developers and the media take on our industry.

It seems that there is this strange social believe thats perpetrating the myth that all industry people are chubby, pimple faced, 21 yr olds who have no social graces and bad hygiene, or geeks to be specific. [:P]

Sometimes it feels as if we are thought of as children and to a large degree games themselves are thought to be a substandard form of art and/or entertainment.

I for one believe its time to see the industry and its workers treat themselves and be treated by others as the mature, dedicated, professional and passionate adults that they are.

The geek tag needs to go in my opinion, we don't see it as often in the film industry and although its a different field there are some definate correlations between Games and CG films in many areas.

What does everyone else think?

I made a thread in the general discussion section so as to not take over this one:

[url]http://www.sumea.com.au/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2450[/url]

UniqueSnowFlake's picture

Malus, just read your few posts about the topic as the way the industry is seen. Just like to know first off, where did you get the idea about the topic? News or something because it sounds like it hit a saw spot or something because you are talking rather passionatly about it [^]

No one where I work is chubby (Some of the guys I know in the industry are better build then alot of people who arn't), pimple faced, and I think there are only 2 21 years olds (me being one of them). Plus we are all pretty social, going out to clubs and pubs etc. Not sure about others but me and the other 21 year old are open about working in the games industry and haven't been rejected because of it.

If your honest and people see your as normal as everyone else then this "social myth" will go away and we can all live happily ever after... [:D]

Blitz's picture

quote:Originally posted by Malus

Blitz:
There are alot of people who are married with kids and a mortgage at work, I don't think that is or should be an issue too anyone except the employee and their families, they do just as many hours as the unmarried etc.

This thread was specifically about "getting into the industry", not someone who has already been in the industry for a while. I would guess that most of those working with you who are married/have kids/have mortgage did not join the company with such baggage as a junior programmer/artist on 30k/yr, more likely they have been around for a while, or were somehow able to garner a more financially comfortable position in the company. Either that or they are lucky :)

quote:
The point is age shouldn't be relevant to employers, its not a young persons industry as people tend to think, it just the hours etc may be easier on younger people who tend to have less responsiblities like families.

As i said, age isn't relevant, circumstances are.
CYer, Blitz

Pantmonger's picture

Quick note, I was married when I started.

Pantmonger

Malus's picture

Actually a few did start with "such baggage" I think. [:P]

Rapid's picture

It all depends on how determined you are. Sometimes one's biggest obstacle is oneself. My sister was 27 when she got into the IT industry. After 4 years, she is now the IT manager of a major IT distribution company.

Just don't give up and regret about it one day! It's rather latter than never[;)]

smeg's picture

Pants: Didn't you get married 9 days AFTER you started work? :P

cheers

Pantmonger's picture

Yes, but I assumed you knew it was on the cards, I thought the ?I will need a few days off at the start for my wedding? might have given it away. :P

Pantmonger

Red 5's picture

palantir, there is hope for you :)...read on

I didn't start playing games until I was 30, yes 30!

I'd operated a business unrelated to games for 15 years, but decided I needed a change and I really wanted to get into game development, so I sold the business (at this stage I was 36) and concentrated on getting my 3D skills up to a level where I thought I might have a shot at scoring a job as an artist in the game industry... I won't go into the details of getting a job because that's a whole other story.

Anyway I did get a job at a Melbourne game studio (by this time I was 38) so I packed up the family and moved down to Melbourne where I worked for a few years... it was difficult, especially having to support a family on the salary offered, which was around 1/3 of what I'd previously earnt with my own business.

But it's payed off, I now have my own company in the game industry which is growing, and I'm a 44 year old kid having some fun doing what I love... it's never too late :)

palantir's picture

Awesome - that?s the kind of inspirational story I was hoping to hear! [:D]

Caroo's picture

*whimpers* YOUR ALL OLD FARTS!!! (meaning your all wiser then me and this 18 year old needs a reality cheek...maybe a face slaping to XP)

my nieve plain is to finish year 12 with a folio, get into aie melbounre.. while theref or two years practice my 3D art skill in and OUT of the class room. makes a artist portfolio and get into the games industry by 21....

i think i can do it. i hope i can do it. im praying to god alia satin that i can do it XD.

well see in time.

palantir's picture

That?s certainly doable. But I think the main thing is just to stay enthusiastic, even if it ends up taking longer then expected. Much more important then getting into the industry ASAP is developing and keeping a deep love for the art. You don?t want to burn out by 30, which seems old when your in high school, but trust me, you?ll be there in no time wondering what happened to your youth! [:P]. Hmm, now I do sound like an old fart...

At least you know where you want to go. I didn?t work it out until I was 26!

I like to remember the average statistic: most game artists take 4 to 6 years of serious study to get to the necessary level.

Caroo's picture

^^very true indeed. i think enthusasem isnt a proablem. i hav epasionse to and 3 years time to train myself up...

in 2D art terms of deen drawing seroiusly for about 5 years (serious as in being sitting down and devoting 10-15 hours a week to drawing.)

my skill i consider is at a mid point...the point where your art no longer looks somewhat retarded (you dont think that then but when you look back onto it you get a good chuckle)
However...its not really sellable.. just a year or so from it though^^ im happy that i got some photoshop skills and stuff and im thinking about doing side project when at the AIE to do a 2D/3D animation.

i try to think realisticly..meaning i look at my art now and say. "if i was developing a game..whould i hire me?.. at the moment its a no..but i'm already working at it and hopefully if i push and keep putting in that extra mile i'll be able to get in after AIE graduation... 3 years a long time^^

Jason's picture

hehe just keep practicing! It's possible, that's for sure, I got a job a month ago and I'm 20 yrs old. I've worked pretty hard to get where I am, but I have to say, it was very much a matter of being in the right place and the right time. I wasn't the ideal candidate for the job (they wanted 3d artist but I'm a 2d artist), somehow things worked out.

Caroo's picture

awsome mate^^ took a sqizz at your artwork to..very nice stuff.. lots of skill. they made a good choise in hiring you.

kit's picture

quote:Originally posted by Caroo

*whimpers* YOUR ALL OLD FARTS!!!

I wouldn't freak! The original post here was how old was too old to get into games! Me I got in at 28 but the youngest person in our office is 21! There's room for everyone so long as you have a passion for it!

McKnight's picture

Well if all goes well after Tuesday I will be in at 15. :D Why does that look so bad though, I am very close to 16 but it just seems to be that border between being 'mature' and still a young kid. I don't see how people look at it like that. I mean I tell someone I am 15 and the experience I have and they are always going "Wow, so young and so much experience for your age." I just don't look at it like that, I see myself as someone going into the workforce with a great motivation and trying my hardest to get the proper education.

I mean I just got out of doing Grade 11. (Yes I was pushed up a year in Primary School) so everyone looks at me funny when they think I am in grade 9 *sigh*

But same applies to older people, 32 is the age where you have either settle down or really want to. You have pretty much been where you want to and gotten the experience you want, so why should it be a problem getting a job? You would (We hope) have a better resume than most.

3DArty's picture

Well im 36 now and ive been doing this for a bit over 2-1/2 years
now. Thats working out how PhotoShop works going back to school
at the AIE for 2 years and I had no ider what 3D,s MAX was.
At this time im still not sure where,when,or if,ill get a full time job. But like all of you, well all of us we love what we can do, and we love it when we get good feed back be it 2d or 3d work, We push to get to where some ells is at with there work. And when we get
to that point we push again. Im Sure I dont need to tell you how much I would love to go back to when I was 15 and know what i know now.

But when it comes down to it I dont
think its if your too young or too old
or if your good or not at what you do at this time or not.

but when its your time it will happen.

Even I dont like to say It but it just takes time.

McKnight's picture

I am seeing being so young as a good thing. I know the direction I must head and I am going there.
So if all things go to plan, I will have my grade 12 cert at the age of 16 (Maybe even just 17). Then I will be able to do my desired course at QANTM and that is another year course so I will have that when I am 18.

So hopefully I will have the qualifications in hand by the time I am just 18 :D.