Annie Barnett studied electronics university and after working in a software firm decided to follow her passion and secure a career in games. Today Annie is DevOps for Criterion Games, one of the best game developers to work for in the UK. We asked Annie some key questions about getting into the games sector.
Explain your role like I'm 5 years old
My role focuses on making sure that our online systems work properly so you can play online and with your friends. This involves setting up or coding tools to monitor what the experience is like for the players, and working on a solution if something does go wrong.
Take us through your average day at work
Every morning my team has a scrum - a meeting where we each say what we're working on and discuss anything that's blocking us from working on it. Over the day I will get an occasional message from one of the teams we support asking for help either fixing something or requesting new work. I code and maintain a number of tools, so I will also spend some time working on them.
What was your educational and career journey into your current role?
As a teenager I enjoyed building and breaking things, especially electronics, which prompted me to study Electronic Engineering at university. Programming was never mentioned when I was at school and it seemed so alien and scary to me, but while studying it as part of my degree I realised it was fun and rewarding!
After graduating I started working for a big software company called IBM doing a mix of testing and programming. A few years later I realised that I wasn't doing something I loved, and I wanted to. A big motivator for me is bringing people joy, so I thought about what brought me joy. Video games easily topped this list, which led to me applying for the role I have now.
What do you love most about your role?
The variation. I love that my role is a mix of development work and operations work. I also enjoy that I feel close to the players as my role is one of the few that works on the game once it has been released.
What's the hardest thing about your role?
The downside of the variation in my work is that it can sometimes mean quickly jumping between different topics. This can sometimes make it difficult to focus on one thing but is a great way to see how lots of different things work.
What key skills should people work on to do your role one day?
It's a cliché but problem solving is a huge part of my role, being able to recognise an issue and quickly determine the cause and/or provide a solution is really important. I also work with a number of teams around the world so clear communication is vital.
What advice would you give to your younger self looking to get started in the industry?
To be confident in my own choices and go for what I want.
Do you have any links to good articles or videos that you think might give some tips or advice to someone starting in your role?
Stress-Free Game Development: Powering Up Your Studio With DevOps gives a good overall view of the problems we try to solve. The Phoenix Project is also a great novel that covers a number of core concepts in the context of an imaginary company.