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The View From Here

A veteran IT programmer finds new meaning if life as a game programmer.

Robert Madsen, Blogger

May 31, 2008

2 Min Read

Well, I am now officially starting my seventh week as a game programmer and I have finally taken time to start my developer blog! I think my story of how I got here is sufficiently interesting, so this is the topic of my first entry.

I have been programming since 1979. Yes, I'm that old. I got my start in computing in a mainframe shop and have been variously employed in computers ever since. I taught myself Basic on a PDP 11/34 computer back in the day and have since programmed in Cobol (ech!), Fortran, C, C+, C++, Visual Basic, Java, Python, and a few other variants of those. My core languages are Visual Basic and C++.

For the last 15 years I had been self-employed. As a consultant, I sold myself to whoever would pay for my coding pleasure. That meant I got to do a lot of database design, school projects, and other stuff that was real interesting. Really.

Although I enjoyed my 29 year tenure as an application programmer, the time comes when an old programmer looks back on his life and asks, "What have I really accomplished?" In fact, I asked this about 5 years ago and the answer was that I had helped a lot of people but still didn't do what I loved...what originally got me interested in programming in the first place...that's right: games.

Games in 1979 were great! We had advent, trek and my all-time favorite tripe (if anyone knows where to find tripe let me know). I realized that I could create my own worlds!

So, here I am in 2008 and I'm finally doing it. I studied game programming on my own for the last 5 years. Attending E3 in 2004 was a life-changing event for me...I just had to get into game programming. But could and old-dog learn new tricks? Even if he did, would anyone care? (If a programmer falls in a forest and no one is around....you get it...)

My big break came when I responded to an job opening from a mysterious company who said they would actually like to hire someone who wanted to cross-over from IT into game programming. I sent the resume and held my breath (well, I did eventually start breathing again), and then went on writing those other programs. Then one day I got a phone call...


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