If interviewing for a specialized team, deep knowledge expertise (AI, Audio, etc.) was an ‘Important’ skill for 53.1% of hiring managers. However, “the flexibility to work on any part of a game project” was ‘Important’ to ‘Very Important’ for 78.1% of recruiters. Graphics rendering, linear algebra, and compiler knowledge were somewhat ‘Important’ skills to have. Multi-threaded programming, Newtonian physics, assembly language programming, and network programming were deemed ‘Sometimes Useful’, but not required by a majority of developer teams.
Out of all the qualification categories, the “need for culture fit was what they considered the primary goal of interviews, with technical qualifications being secondary.” 75% of hiring managers considered the ability to work on a team without excessive ego as an ‘Essential’ qualification for all their hires. Being able to work with coworkers in other departments and communicate to technical and non-technical audiences were also ‘Important’ or more for almost all surveyed developers.
Knowledge about the gaming industry or having any contacts in the field was ‘Not Useful’ or ‘Sometimes Useful’ for more than half of all recruiters. Though enthusiasm for building video games was highly favored, 75% of survey respondents did not consider extracurricular game projects to be an accurate indicator of this trait. In fact, the most important qualification in video game industry was the “willingness to work extra hours when necessary”. Working to finish features on time was ‘Very Important’ for 43.8% of developer teams and accurately reflected an International Game Developers Association (IGDA) survey that reported long hours was a widespread practice in the industry.
Though the software development industry may follow hard set technical requirements during their hiring process, this study proves that personal traits (enthusiastic, hardworking, sociable) may be just as important. Surveyed developers even mentioned that “technical skills could even be learned on the job”, but cultural fit could not be taught. When filling out your next application, be sure to highlight your programming potential, your willingness to learn, and your innate enthusiasm to make an impact in the industry.
We hope the findings of this study will help you find your next great developer position.
Michael Hewner and Mark Guzdial. 2010. What game developers look for in a new graduate: interviews and surveys at one game company. Proceedings of the ACM technical symposium on Computer Science education, ACM, 275–279. http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1145/1734263.1734359