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Todd Writes:

Hi. I’m considering changing careers but I’m not sure about the best way to do it. After graduating a few years ago with a doctorate in clinical psychology, I obtained a faculty position at a major university, where I now work as a clinician and researcher . While I have been successful thus far in my area of study, I have made a decision to pursue a career in game design and development. I have some experience in managing large projects, so I might be able to apply for a project director type of position, but I’m most interested the artistic end of game design. I am considering taking a certification course in 3D character design and animation at the university where I currently work. But I dont want to spend the money, or begin transitioning from my current position, if my chances of being able to break into the industry are slim to none. I’m sure to be competing with students who have had much more experience in computing and art than I could ever hope to obtain at this point in my life (even though I’m only 30). Do you think my training in psychology, and the skills that I have developed as a clinical research scientist will be desired by a game company? What type of additional training would you recommend? How much experience do most new hires (those individuals who are fresh out of college or internship) have in the area of 3D character design? I’m wondering if a 9-month intensive course would be sufficient to compete. Are there any jobs that I might be suited for in this industry? Any advice would be very much appreciated.

My Reply:

I’m not sure generally speaking, but I know that my team is working on a game that has some crossover with psychology and animation–if we had the opportunity to hire an intern that was equipped to bridge the gap it would be an interesting option. So I imagine there opportunities for someone like you to actually apply the skills you have already.

However, EA’s not the sort of company to compensate someone based on their potential–you will have to prove yourself first. The most important thing is to get a positionany position (project manager if thats easiest, for example), at EA and then go from there. EA pays for a bunch of schooling while you are an employee as a benefit, so once you are in you have a much easier time of talking to people about what you need to learn, taking those classes, and then having access to the positions you want. Its much easier from the inside.