James Rigby, Computer games programmer

Job Title: Computer Games Programmer

Organisation: Relentless Software

Number of years In current position: 1.5

Qualifications: Degree: Physics.
A – Levels: Applied Maths, Pure Maths, Physics, Chemistry.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for.
We are a computer games firm based in Brighton who produce the Buzz series of games. We are a friendly and fun company, usually going for drinks on Friday.  We employ programmers, artists, producers, testers etc.

Explain what you do on an average day at work.
Simply put, I program Buzz using C++. An average day might involve working on some new features, or might involve fixing some bugs that the testers have found.

What do you like most about your job?
I love the fact that I am producing something that over a million people have played and enjoyed. It’s such good fun to be writing games.

What stimulated your interest in maths, and when?
I was always good at maths at school, and just always enjoyed it, particularly applied maths.

What influenced your career choice?
I love solving problems, and a computer programmer solves problems all day long, so it was a perfect match for me.

Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job?
Good problem solving skills. Good programming skills. Some statistical analysis ability is a plus.

Any advice you may have for other individuals considering your career path.
Firstly, good A-levels are a must. I would recommend doing double maths and physics. If you can teach yourself a language (C and C++) then that is also a big bonus.

Most people in my firm have a degree. Some in maths, some in physics, and some in one of the newer computer game subjects.  There are a few around now, like ‘Computer Game Programming’, or similar titles, but some are better than others. All these degrees require you to have a strong maths background, and will take your skills further.

Once you have a degree you can apply for games programming jobs. Some firms employ graduates straight from university, but others only want people with experience. If you can’t get a games programming job straight away, I would get a C++ programming job for another (non-games) company. Once you have a couple of years experience as a good C++ programmer then games companies will find you much more attractive.

Your future career plans.
Keep programming games for as long as I can.