“Hello! I’m Amy Phillips – programmer at Media Molecule where I work 2 days a week (plus some work from home). I am also a stay-at-home mum to two kids (3 days a week). Find an awesome employer and it’s possible to do both 🙂
How I got into coding
I kind of accidentally fell into coding whilst trying to find an easier subject at University! I did a bit of maths, some physics, and then discovered that computer science was both fascinating and a lot easier (bonus!). After graduating I spent a year in the Computer Lab at Cambridge Uni, hacking on the linux kernel and as a side project improving my productivity massively by writing code to monitor the Coffee Pot and email me when it was full.
I have been incredibly lucky to end up coding in games – it’s my ideal job and I absolutely love it! I had no idea it was a career option and discovered it by another lucky accident. I was visiting a friend who worked at Big Blue Box, they were shipping a Fable milestone and he got called into the office so I went too. I was so impressed by the interesting people, the relaxed atmosphere (and the scooter!) that I sent my CV to all the games companies in Guildford. After many, many rejections and invitations to try again in a few months, I was lucky enough to get an interview at Criterion, and started off porting Burnout 1 to GameCube in a team of two.
“I kind of accidentally fell into coding whilst trying to find an easier subject at University!”
Porting games is great to get a taste of many code areas – I dabbled in graphics, AI, controller code, savegame, and then on Burnout 3 I got the chance to write the in-game network code which was awesome! Networking has always been my favourite as I love the challenge of never having completely up to date information about opponents – how do you make it feel responsive and hide all the imperfections in your knowledge of the state of the world? It’s a tricky question with no concrete answer.
By the time we got to Burnout 5 I was getting itchy feet, whilst visiting a friend at Media Molecule I saw what they were doing with LittleBigPlanet, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get involved with what was to become LittleBigPlanet. It also allowed me to assume the job title of High Priestess of Online Code 🙂 I’ve now been at MM for over 10 years, writing network code, tools code, the job is always changing and I’m always learning new stuff”.
My advice for getting into games
“I have been incredibly lucky to end up coding in games – it’s my ideal job and I absolutely love it! “
If games sounds like the place for you and you have some programming knowledge then game jams / hackathons are an excellent way to improve your coding skills. You turn up, form teams, and make something – it’s an excellent way to learn as you have a concrete goal and people to bounce ideas off and learn from. As a bonus you end up with something for your portfolio at the end, and may meet some people you want to work with in future. You can just google to find them in your area”.