GCG: 'How I Got My Start In The Games Industry'

In this Game Career Guide feature, Alistair Wallis shares the 'getting into the game biz' stories of industry professionals including Blitz's Philip Oliver, fo
In this feature for Gamasutra sister educational site Game Career Guide, Alistair Wallis shares the 'getting into the game biz' stories of industry professionals including Blitz's Philip Oliver, former Shiny founder Dave Perry, THQ's Derek Proud, and Harmonix's Greg LoPiccolo. In this excerpt, which focuses specifically on Virgin Games programmer Dave Perry (Earthworm Jim), the now industry veteran recalls his first brush with computer game retail, and how that ill-fated event sparked a significant turning point in his career: “Perry's first foray into developing retail games was when he sent off a BASIC game named DrakMaze to British publisher MikroGen. While the deal fell through, Perry ended up meeting the company's managing director, Mike Meek, at a trade show in London soon after. Meek was looking to put together a development team, and offered Perry a job. "It was a horribly paid job at [the equivalent of] $3,500 a year plus a company car, but it was still very tempting," he says. Though it involved not only leaving his school, but also moving across to England, he decided to take it. "When I got there, the company car turned out to be a really, really old beaten-up van that had to be shared by the whole team!" he laughs. "But still, my career skyrocketed when I got into a room with people way more talented than myself. My programming was very, well, ‘by-the-book' meaning I didn't know all the tricks used to make real games." "Luckily I was handed high-quality source code to start with it was like a bio-tech scientist getting to see what DNA looks like for the first time. It really made me feel like I had just been given the keys to the car, and finally I could get in and drive. I had a lot of catching up to do! I tried to keep my head down so I could absorb as much as possible before they kicked me out the door." Perry's work turned out well though, with his first game for the company - a conversion of Pyjamarama for the Amstrad CPC - receiving glowing reviews, including a 10 out of 10 from one magazine. "I can't tell you how addictive that is," he grins. "Oh, and they let me stay!" “ You can now read the complete feature, including more interesting career and life stories from some of the industry's most recognized names (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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