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Educational Feature: How I Became a Game Developer

Ubisoft Montreal gameplay programmer Jean-Francois Lévesque remembers how his first few job interviews in games went terribly wrong -- and shares with GameCareerGuide
Jean-Francois Lévesque is a gameplay programmer at Ubisoft Montreal who worked on Far Cry 2. But before he got to where he is today, he stumbled a few times, doing miserably on a technical test in one job interview and not preparing himself psychologically for another. A new interview with Lévesque on GameCareerGuide lets other aspiring game developers learn from his slow and steady, rung-by-rung climb into the game industry. Once he figured out what he needed to do to succeed in a game industry interview and what would be required of him on the job, Lévesque picked himself up and prepared better. But he also took a risk by quitting his job in telecommunications and moving to a geographic hotbed of game development, Montreal, before he found a position. “I come from a very small town and making video games seemed out of reach to me,” Lévesque says in the interview. “After graduation, I started working in the industrial welders industry. I designed the internal electronic parts. I didn't find it too exciting, so I moved to project management for one of the biggest telecommunication company in Canada. Although it was a well-paid job with a lot of advancement possibilities, I was secretly bored. I began to think that maybe it would be nice to try video game development for a change.” He knew getting a job as a game developer would be competitive and set out to work on his own projects in his spare time to get himself up to snuff. Unfortunately, even that was harder than he thought it would be. When he had completed a small, playable, 3D, electronic version of a board game, he felt ready to apply to jobs. “The first interview I scored was with Beenox (Quebec City), and it went terribly wrong. Some time after that,” he says, “I got a call from EA Montreal for an interview to work on the next Medal of Honor. I drove seven hours to get there and, again, I failed the technical test miserably. … Those were major blows to my self-esteem and my dedication to my personal programming project. I felt ashamed that after having spent so much time learning, reading, and programming, it didn't work out. I returned to my old job disappointed and not too sure what to do next.” But what he did do next eventually got him into Ubisoft Montreal, where he took on a dedicated role developing the fire propagation system for Far Cry 2. He was even featured article on Gamasutra for his efforts. The complete interview, alongside Lévesque’s advice for tips on how to break into the game industry, based on his personal experiences, is available on GameCareerGuide. For more introductory information about careers in the game industry, see GameCareerGuide.com's Getting Started section.

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