After studying maths at university, Rebecca decided to learn how to code and that's when she found out about the games industry. Today, she shares her journey from maths student to graduate game developer.
Name: Rebecca Piper
Industry: IT and the internet
What is your job? Graduate game engine developer
How long have you worked here? Since September 2016
University: Durham University
Degree subject: Maths
A-Levels: Maths, further maths, biology
1. What was your very first job?
My current role as graduate game engine developer at Tombola is my first job as a graduate. I chose not to work part time while I was at university as my course was fairly intense and I wanted to focus on my studies.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do career-wise when I was at school. I have always enjoyed and excelled in maths and so I knew I wanted to pursue the subject, but I wasn’t sure what roles would be available to me.
3. How did you find out about the industry?
4. How did you get there?
After university, I went on to study a coding course through Makers Academy.
The 12-week computer programming course gave me so much confidence in my knowledge of web development. I think studying at Makers provided me with a solid foundation to build my skills upon, they even helped me to secure my interview at Tombola!
The application process at Tombola was intense, but informal. I was required to undertake code tests, group exercises and an individual interview. I got to meet who would be my team leader during the interview, which I think made the experience a lot more personalised.
5. What is a typical day like?
As a game engine developer at Tombola, I have mainly been focusing on the development of a program that will monitor the return to player (RTP) of each game. RTP is the average amount of money that our players can win over a set period.
I use my knowledge of statistics to calculate the expected average amount that players will win back when playing Tombola games. This is monitored to make sure that all our in-house games are working correctly.
In addition to this I also adjust code for promotions that the company runs and I report back to the senior game engine developer.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
During the past few months at Tombola, the best thing has been committing code that I have written to go live on the site. I think it is a great achievement to see something that I have worked on make an impact!
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Understanding historic code that exists on the site challenges me on a daily basis. It can be difficult to adapt your own style to adhere to Tombola’s guidelines, however I know that in the long run having cohesive code all round will be beneficial for myself and other members of the team.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
For anyone who is interested in getting into development, I would advise them to gain as much experience as possible, particularly in problem solving and probability.
I have a background in maths, having studied it at Uni, and have always been passionate about the subject ever since school. I think having an underlying interest and a good understanding of maths in general is imperative for potential developers!
Having knowledge of coding practices is also beneficial. Studying at Makers Academy established my understanding and gave me key industry skills, however, you can also learn so much from simply searching on the internet – it’s important that you are informed regardless of what industry you are interested in and there is so much information readily available online that you can take advantage of.
I believe it’s important to have good teamwork skills as well, you must be able to work with others in development as multiple team member will often collaborate on an individual project. You can pick up team building skills in school, I think group projects are a great way to develop leadership skills and to progress your ability to work with others.
9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
I would have liked to have known a bit more about how a website like Tombola is run and had a bit of experience working within different development environments.
10. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I hope to stay in the North East and to progress my career within the technology industry.
You don't have to be a maths whiz to work in the gaming world. Take a look at our article on jobs in the games industry to find out what goes into creating an amazing game and how you could be part of it.