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04.09.2020 16:40

Students meet the creator of the World of Tanks video game

On 3 September, the conference hall in the main building of Voronezh State University hosted a meeting between students and Vyacheslav Makarov, the creator of the popular video game, World of Tanks. He told the audience about how to find your own niche in IT, how to launch your start-up company, and why programmers need academic qualifications.

“If you’ve developed a good product which could be in demand, it is a piece of cake to enter the global market with it. I wish that you all could take part in such a project one day. You are currently studying IT and the world is your oyster. After World of Tanks was released, we opened about 20 offices all over the world. Programmers from Japan, China, the USA, and Europe have become my colleagues. Information Technology is changing every year: markets are opening and closing, while programming languages, project methodologies, and project concepts are changing. If you want to make your mark in this area you have to work really hard. And here comes the question: how can one manage everything? There are seven days in a week, but only five of them are workdays, each eight hours long. However, we have 4 more active hours every day and a few hours at the weekend. If you sum them up, you will get an extra working week. And this time you can spend on learning rather than entertainment. Self-education is a path to personal development: you can create a new technology or get an extra specialisation which might help you find a better-paid job with lots of prospects. What matters in IT are your skills and qualifications rather than gender and age. And you have to make use of them! Nobody can stop you from conducting your own projects while studying. Some people will make it happen all at once, others will gain a valuable experience and will not “hit the target” on the first try. Life is a kind of lottery. And there are no restrictions on the number of lottery tickets you can draw. The more you take, the more chances to win you get.”

After the speech, the students asked Vyacheslav about the development of the industry, self-actualisation, start-up capital, about whether it is necessary to get a high-quality education, and about the ways to overcome difficulties:

“How did a university degree help you enter the industry?”

“The video games which I have been developing are related to modelling reality. I have a degree in Physics. And calculating the movements of tanks in space is all about physics! It is important to make a vehicle move realistically. Higher education is a very useful thing. It can come to be very handy when you least expect it.”

“It is not a rare thing that third or fourth year IT students having developed some knowledge and competencies leave university to start working for a company. And they give up studying for good. Is it important to finish university and get a degree or is basic knowledge enough?”

“I don’t think there is only one right answer to this question. However, there are some details that matter. A degree makes your life easier. Here is an example: if you want to apply for a job in an international company, you usually need a diploma. Otherwise you won’t get a work permit. Imagine: we need an employee for our American office. To employ them we need to explain to the migration service why we want to employ an immigrant rather than a local citizen. And there is no chance we could do it without a diploma.”

“How can I understand in which direction I should develop and where I can find my niche in IT?”

“To understand if you like something or not, you have to try it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. IT is an open area: there are lots of internships and different projects. Go for it!”

“Have you ever felt like giving up on a project? If so, how did you overcome this feeling?”

“From the very beginning, we did not fit within the budget we had. And we had invested all the money we could and put a lot of effort into attracting external investors. However, since specialists and the media gave obnoxious reviews of our game, everybody believed our project was a failure and didn’t want to invest into it. As a result, we asked for support from our players and asked them to make pre-orders. We collected two million and made it. The second difficult situation was after the release. Imagine, half a year after the release, all the servers went down and you are working hard on preparing a New Year event and it is also ruined. It’s like knocking your head against a brick wall. I was digging my car out of a snowdrift when I got a call and learned about the servers. I had to make quick decisions about how to fix the server when there were no specialists available at the workplace. As a result, it was a new support service employee who pressed the buttons. A wonderful person he is and he worked with us for a very long time after that. However, at that very moment I felt like giving up and running away. Anyway, we survived.”

“Is it very difficult to keep such a large project going?”

“Actually, any project goes though a number of development stages. When you release the product, you have no idea what kind of problems will come up against in the future. When the number of users exceeds dozens of thousands, everything starts working differently. Even from technological point of view. Your audience is growing and you have to modify algorithms. Because everything was written for a different kind of load. Every five years, the industry renews and you have to rewrite your product to keep up with new technologies. Any existing project means constant development.”

“Does a programmer need entrepreneurial competencies?”

"It depends on what you mean by this phrase. Do you mean if any IT specialist must invest their money and launch start-up companies? Of course, not. However, one day you can become a co-owner of a company even if you don’t have the required competencies. Then it is vital to be legally literate, be able to read a law and understand what kind of contract you are signing. When applying for a job in a company, I recommend you to learn about its history, its product, and check its public reports. It will save you time and effort.”

VSU Press Service  


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