Developing Developers: Q&A with Aude Barral, CodinGame

Source Code

In this exclusive interview, TheGamingEconomy speaks with Aude Barral (pictured below), co-founder and CMO, CodinGame, on the modern game developer, how roles and training are set to evolve as gaming platforms change, and how game design mechanics can be effectively employed outside of the sector.

What skills will developers need to adapt to future changes in the industry, such as the implementation of machine learning on cloud gaming platforms?

AI and machine learning (ML) are definitely on the rise in the gaming industry as skills developers need to master to keep up with innovations. ML is, for the second year in a row in our survey, the top skill developers would like to acquire. ML is a branch of artificial intelligence where a class of data-driven algorithms enables software applications to become highly accurate in predicting outcomes, without any need for explicit programming. Based on statistical analysis, programs become “intelligent” and are able to develop predictive models to anticipate and learn behaviours autonomously. In video games, ML algorithms can be used for example to predict the way a game will react to a player’s action to allow more responsiveness, especially in online multiplayer games involving open-world environments. I can also be used for the dynamic modelling of graphical renderings. Developers who master ML are in high demand, under the title of data scientists or data engineers.

Since running its annual survey on IT developers, what have been the most significant changes observed in programming by CodinGame? Do you predict that there will be any significant shift in the coding languages used in game development or wider programming in the next few years?
Aude Barral

Aude Barral, co-founder and CMO, CodinGame

The most significant shift observed in the last years in programming is the way people get to learn programming. A few years ago, the royal path to become a developer was still the higher university degree or engineering school diploma. Today, short training courses such as boot-camps or online MOOCs have developed massively, making it more complex for recruiters to grasp the level of proficiency of candidates. On the other hand, while there are not enough trained developers on the market, HR managers are now compelled to study applications from developers trained via these short modules, with the inherent difficulty of measuring their actual level of skill proficiency.

What more can be done to promote gender diversity among programming professionals?

Gender diversity in the tech industry has been a central issue for several years, and we are making slow progress in this area. Many studies have been carried out to try to explain the low appetite of girls for development jobs and it would seem that the reasons vary greatly depending on countries and cultural environments. For example, in the United States or in France, girls are still a minority among programming students, whereas in India or Morocco, computer science is a preferred choice for young women that allows a great deal of independence in career development. The main subject on which most actors agree is that children, boys and girls, must be made aware of programming, at the same level and from the earliest age, to break down the gender barriers that intervene more during adolescence and make the profession of developer a much more mixed and non-gendered one.

What are the similarities, and differences, in the key attributes required for game developers compared to non-gaming programmers?

There is no major difference in the training path of a generalist developer and a video game developer. Aside from their passion for video games and their creativity, what will be sought above all by recruiters in a game developer will be their problem-solving ability and their passion for programming. Indeed, working in the video game industry requires the ability to adapt to very challenging environments with tight deadlines. The skill set sought by recruiters in the gaming industry is around the mastery of C++, a language that allows easy communication with the hardware layer and good memory management capacities, and C #, which is preferred for development in Microsoft environments (especially with the XMA framework) and with the Unity game engine. Both languages are used massively for the development of games on consoles. Java and Python, both versatile languages, are also in demand, as well as Javascript, especially for the development of mobile games. Finally, Lua, a free and multi-platform language, is beginning to gain ground. What is interesting to notice is that multiplatform languages are becoming increasingly used on the tech market both in the video game industry and for enterprise applications, which could make of Java, Python, and Javascript great choices to learn for a junior developer, regardless of their choice of specialisation.

How can gamification mechanics be best incorporated outside of game design and programming?

Gaming is not a medium among others, today, it’s becoming the first medium to learn and train. Why? Because it’s the only medium that generates simultaneously enthusiasm, collaboration and productivity. Gaming doubles our speed to learn while boosting our ability to interact with others (Princeton study). In a survey conducted by TalentLMS (Gamification survey), 79% of respondents (corporate learners and students) said that they would be more productive and motivated if their learning environment was a game.

What is interesting is that gamification today is widely used in the HR industry. Gaming facilitates the recruitment and evaluation of employees by putting them in a context similar to that encountered in the workplace. It fosters the interest and commitment of candidates, increases motivation, and makes it possible to measure skills by observing candidates’ behaviour in concrete situations.

Candidates are invited to solve complex code problems they might encounter in their daily life as a developer. The game environment reduces the stress of a classic face-to-face assessment interview, and measures creativity and strategic thinking.