How I got into... games programming

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Ayla joined Hutch as a Client Engineer on F1 Clash earlier this year (also referred to as a Gameplay Programmer in other companies) Read all about her career journey, including how Skyrim played an integral part! And stick around for her top tips for getting into the industry…

Q. What’s your job role at Hutch?

A. I’m a Client Engineer at Hutch and most of my work involves programming in C# and working in Unity. This can include coding new features or game mechanics, refining gameplay, or implementing new content.

Ayla’s Career Journey

Q. What did you do before Hutch?

A. Before I joined Hutch I worked as a programmer at a small indie studio making Virtual Reality games. It was a startup company and I was soon given the responsibility of Lead Programmer, and oversaw the development and release of the studio’s first game on Steam, and subsequent game released in the VR arcade market.

Q. What made you want to apply for the job you now do?

A. Having spent just over two years in my previous job, I felt it was time to take the next step in my career and focus on developing further as a programmer and learning new skills in game programming from other people with more experience than I.

Q. Any particular skills, experience, characteristics that you think were instrumental in getting your job?

A. Aside from the skills I learnt and the experience gained from my previous job role, which definitely helped, I believe that also my University journey where I studied Computer Science was a massive help. Before that I had never done programming before, and not only did I learn various programming languages whilst at university, I also massively gained in confidence, and learnt valuable time management skills.

Q. Anything else interesting about your career journey you’d like to share?

A. When I finished my A Levels, none of which had anything to do with games or programming, I did not know what direction I wanted my career to go in. I decided to take a gap year to figure out what I wanted to do.

During this time I found video game modding, and began learning to make mods for Skyrim. I taught myself how to code with the scripting language used by the game, learnt level design, and even dabbled with some 3D modelling. I soon joined a large mod project and began working in a team of people from all over the world. I climbed the ranks and became one of the project leads for a time, before I eventually stepped down as University responsibilities stepped up. The work I did on that project can be seen in the mod we released “Beyond Skyrim - Bruma”.

Q. What do you like most about working at Hutch?

A. I love the people here, and the atmosphere. It's really welcoming and everyone is very supportive of each other. I’m also learning something new everyday and have already become more proficient in programming during the short time I’ve been here.

Top Tips

Q. What careers advice would you give your younger self?

A. I would say to myself, even if you don’t manage to find a job in games right away after you finish University - don’t give up on that dream! Don’t settle on any old software engineering role if you know the games industry is where you want to go. Keep working on your own projects and building up experience while you apply for jobs, and connecting with specialist recruitment agencies will be very beneficial.

Q. What are the best 3 tips you would give someone looking to get into a similar field?

A. You need to have some experience. It doesn’t matter if the experience is not in a professional programming role, as you have to start somewhere! But working on projects in your personal time and building up a portfolio is a great way of showcasing your skills and abilities and making you stand out more to companies looking to hire in the game development space.

Q. Any advice for other women trying to break into the games industry?

A. You can do it! Even though games programming is largely male-dominated, it doesn’t mean women can’t make games too. Don’t be afraid to follow your passion. If you've got the skills then you can do just as well as anybody else, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Q. What’s the best bit about your job? And what’s the hardest part / the bit you wished someone had given you a heads up on!

A. The best bit is doing a job that I genuinely enjoy doing. Never do I wake up in the morning dreading the day ahead, I am always happy to be working on my passion, and every day brings something new.

I think the hardest part when I started was getting used to the number of meetings we have throughout the week. In my last job we didn’t have meetings very often other than short catch ups at the start of each day. At Hutch we have meetings for planning our sprints, reviewing progress and demoing what we’ve been working on, to name a few. It was new to me at first, but now they’re just part of the routine and actually very useful and help me to work more efficiently.

If you're an Engineer / Games Programmer looking to start a new chapter in your career, check out our current vacancies here: We'd love to hear from you!

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