A million years ago, when SockMonkey Studio’s programming intern Neil was at school, working in video games wasn’t a promoted path. Even when I left school much, much more recently, it wasn’t talked about a lot. If you’re thinking about pressing start on the gaming industry then read on for some advice from our very own resident Neil.
How long ago did you change career?
“Three years ago in February 2018”
What made you want to change career?
“I’ve always loved games, my second retail job was in GAME. I’ve been a massive gaming person forever and during the time I worked there I also did freelance QA testing for a company called Blitz 1UP, who started a QA programme for small indie companies to get their games tested.
I did this for a couple of years and then had an interview for a QA job at Frontier and almost moved down to Cambridge (for the interview I had to test a Wallace and Gromit game for the PS2 and actually found a bug they didn’t know about.) When I didn’t get the job I kept doing beta testing wherever I could. After doing this and seventeen years working in retail I decided to pursue programming through college and university. I got my job at SockMonkey Studios as QA, just after starting my college course and between them I wound up doing 70 hour weeks for a while.
I would work from five a.m. for PC World on a Sunday and then have two and a half days at college, a night class for English GCSE and then the other two and a half days I was working QA at SockMonkey – so nobody can say I wasn’t committed.”
How has retraining in the pandemic been?
“Luckily I started my placement when lockdown hit so I wasn’t at university. That being said, transferring from QA to an intern programmer hasn’t been as easy as it could have been; due to not being in person and having the one-to-one contact in the same way. Before lockdown I used to just walk over to somebody’s desk to ask for help, but now I have to message and wait until their available – thankfully though the team at SockMonkey are always ready to offer advice.”
“Absolutely none, if anything it’s the best decision I’ve made.”
Any advice for anybody wanting to break into the gaming industry?
“What I mentioned before about putting in the extra work, this is a competitive field so you want to make yourself stand out. Also, most importantly, remember you’re never too old to chase your dream job, I was 33 when I changed my career and I will be 37 by the time I’m fully qualified.”
“If you do want to be in the gaming industry don’t be put off and get started early, QA testing and beta testing can give you a great foothold and help hugely with your CV.”
Loved reading the rich lore of Neil? Check out more SockMonkey words on our blog and follow SockMonkey Studios on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date on new games, fresh Neil news and competitions.
Don’t forget to wishlist the first game Neil is working on as programming intern with the rest of the team Fish Tanks.