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My question is about changing industries as a developer, after having spent half a decade in one.

Let's say I'm a full-stack web and mobile app developer, I use a good variety of languages and paradigms out there and have been around the block for a few years, both at a very large corp and as a startup founder in a mostly technical role. Hypothetically, let's say I'd like to see if I can make as a AAA game developer, perhaps start out as a gameplay programmer and go from there. I interned at a large game company before, but ended turning down their offer at the time as I didn't see the project going very far (it didn't). I could probably easily get a role in server-side development, but that would be close-ish to what I'm already doing.

I know that because of my breadth of experience I won't have a particularly hard time ramping up fast in whatever technologies and paradigms the game will be using and will do great on the long run, but I'm not sure what the short term will look like.

What kind of setback can I expect? Will I have to re-climb the totem pole from the ground up? Is there anything I can do to hit the ground running?

Also, what has your experience been with changing industries (doesn't have to be the same industries as the ones I mentioned)? Did you end up regretting not being able to carry over your domain knowledge?

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closed as not constructive by gnat, thorsten müller, Martijn Pieters, Caleb, Blrfl Mar 20 '13 at 12:55

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To hit the ground running, consider contributing to one or more open source games. This will help you brush up on game coding and styles, and help you know what to expect.

With regards to changing industries, I went from an application (web and desktop) developer, to a mainframe developer, to an architecture role where I have done mobile, web, desktop and do management. I feel I could go back and do mainframe now, I also feel I could go back and do VB6 which I did a decade ago if need be. Once you've had exposure you might be a little rusty a few years out, but it's always easy to pick things back up.

Every industry has their own specific domain knowledge. Learning and understanding the domain is integral to succeeding in the workplace. I've done health, finance, government, travel and small business - each time it gets easier to learn new domains simply because you start to think about how things hang together.

If anything having game experience on your CV is going to look positive as it would (generally) demonstrate a good knowledge of mathematics. It also would make it look like you're willing to try new things.

Good luck.

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The better programmer you are ; the easier it should be, but it would be difficult to work with someone who isn't willing to adapt and wants to rage against everything all the time.

I don't know if stack/language choice is part of what you mean by domain. The IT industry (if you look at job applications) puts a premium on language choice. Based on many opinions you'd think there would be more postings that just want a programmer. An experienced mainframe developer may adapt to embedded/mobile because they still remember the days when everyone didn't run around proclaiming memory is cheap.

I watched Indie Game: The Movie. I thought it was a remake of the Agony and the Ecstasy. Most people probably weed themselves out of this career choice.

Switching domains as far as the business the client is in should be the least amount of problems. Some developers never learn the business domain or learn as little as possible (I just want to code, so hand-over the specs.). I think a bigger factor is how much time you're willing to spend away from the code. Are you willing to learn as much as you can about the domain and try to work with the non technical people?

Some companies do a better job of this than others. I've been at places that immersed programmers in the business areas by visiting with managers in different departments and even got the 10K foot view from C-level execs (Zappos shoes makes everyone work in the call center for several weeks - one programmer quit because of this.). Others will try to get people already working in that industry because they don't know how to teach it to anyone and/or take the time to do it right. Ideally you want a good programmer who also knows the domain, but short-term needs take-over. "Hey, he was a programmer at another insurance company. It's not might fault it didn't work out." says HR as they practice CYA.

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