It’s Back To School For Game Devs Too!
Each school year we host a student from China or Korea who is attending a nearby high school. This type of arrangement is called “homestay”, in which a foreign student lives in an American home. What the students get out of it is an opportunity to immerse themselves in American language and culture, and what we get out of it is an opportunity to enlarge our family for most of the year and learn a bit more about Asian culture.
This year we are hosting Daisey, an 11th grader from Shanghai. She arrived from China about a week ago, and we were pleased with how well she speaks English, which makes being her host parents a much easier task. A few days ago she asked me to bring her to Walmart so that she could buy some school supplies: notebooks, pens, book covers, and all the usual gear needed for school.
As I looked at the “Back To School” signage, I thought not only about the many times I’ve had to prepare for a new school year, but also about how often I’ve had to prepare for a new job, a new project, and new responsibilities. Occasionally I’ve taken a class for learning a new programming language or a workshop for improving my soft skills, but more often I’m learning by reading industry articles on the internet or meeting other professionals at a conference or meet-up.
The single most important lesson I’ve learned is the need to be constantly learning. Things change very fast in the game industry, and if you don’t keep up, you’ll find yourself ‘way behind, and that may make it hard to find a new job later on. Believe me, it is far better to school yourself to stay current in the industry, than to get schooled by a colleague or competitor who knows more than you do.
Here are a short list of some of the things I recommend for game developers to keep current:
- Read Gamasutra daily to find out about game industry news and trends.
- Read books on game development (don’t just rely on internet articles).
- Attend local meet-ups for game developers.
- Attend a conference such as Game Developers Conference, E3, SXSW, or SIGGraph.
- Take online tutorials or classes at brick-and-mortar schools to learn new development tools.
- Learn a foreign language — the game industry is global, and knowing another language like Chinese, Japanese, Russian or German will open up more career possibilities for you.
Keeping current does take an effort, but if a 16-year-old Chinese girl can make the effort to live halfway around the world to secure a better fortune for herself, you can make the effort to spend a little time each day or week securing your own future in the game industry.