Yesterday Electronic Arts (also known as EA… obviously) came to UCSC to talk about what they’re looking for in potential hires and interns as well as talk about the game industry in general. While it was similar to the Microsoft Game Studios UCSC Presentation, there were some differences that I was a bit surprised to hear.
Unfortunately I walked in late so I missed my chance at a free EA pen, but luckily the actual presentation started late due to technical difficulties with the projector. (It kind of makes me laugh how a simple projector can cause so many problems for a room full of computer science majors and EA employees.) Since the presentation could not be shown first, the first to talk was a developer named Tom Wilson.
Wilson basically talked about his experiences through school and the game industry. Before working at EA, he worked at IBM. At EA, Wilson worked on several titles including The Godfather: The Game, The Simpsons Game, Dante’s Inferno, and Dead Space 2.
After sharing his experiences, Wilson’s tips to the potential game developers in the room were:
- Make games! They’re the most important part of your portfolio!
- Learn math. Especially 3D math. Even if you’re not a graphics programmer, 3D math will help immensely!
After Wilson stepped off to the side, the projector was finally setup properly and a PowerPoint slideshow was shown. This is where it became apparent to me that EA’s presentation would be surprisingly different from Microsoft’s.
While Microsoft only talked about gaming, EA made sure to share some focus on business and project management as well, even though they were aware that the majority of the room was there for game development. This really reflects on how different EA’s business model is compared to Microsoft’s. The business/management positions listed were:
- Service Oriented Production
- Multi-Screen Distribution
- Careers in Marketing
- Product Management
- Brand Management
- Marketing Management
- Supply Chain
They also made sure to emphasize they’re looking for many people majoring in business or anything else that’s marketing-related.
The next slide talked about how teams worked at the company. Generally teams are from 6-100 people and it’s more often that employees find themselves on big teams. Each game can take from 6-48 months. Key roles are:
- Quantitative Analyst
- Software Engineers
- Game mechanics
- Core engine
- Tools and libraries
- Online (Front end)
- Online (Back end)
- Test Engineers
- Technical Artists
- 3D modelers
- Texture artists
- Flash design (UI & 2D)
An important remark was that most artists that worked on EA games weren’t actually bound to EA. In fact, one artist working on an EA game could be working on other art for several other projects for EA’s competitors.
The next slide talked about how EA had jobs for data analysis. People who work in this field are known at EA as data scientists. Basically data scientists analyze the customer through communities and telemetry, trying to understand their interests and how the company can improve their games in the future. Skills that EA looks for in data scientists are:
- Social marketing
Finally, the last slide talked about what EA looked for in resumes, primarily for resumes being sent in for game development positions. EA looks for:
- Work on a shared code base. (Collaborative projects that involve sharing your code with other team members as well as working with other team members’ code.)
- Developed side projects outside of coursework.
- Core computer coursework
- Data structures/algorithms
- 3D math (vectors/matrices)
- Operating systems
- Low level programming
- Graph theory
- Parallel processing
Non-technical aspects that are looked for are:
- Finished, full-cycle projects
- Work on teams of more than two people
- Project manager
- Collaborate with various disciplines
- Sharpen your communication skills, both internally and externally
To apply for jobs and internships at EA, go to the EA Jobs website.