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Jane Street developer with ADHD on why finance beats the gaming industry

If you're a software engineer (and particularly if you're a software engineer with ADHD who enjoys gaming) the chances are that you've considered taking a job in the gaming industry. In a recent podcast, Ella Ehrlich, a senior developer at electronic trading firm Jane Street, explained why this isn't necessarily a good idea. Forget gaming: Ehrlich said software jobs in the financial services industry are best. 

"I spend a lot of time playing games, and thinking about games, and watching games," Erlich told Ron Minsky, Jane Street's head of technology. "A thing that I’ve learned is that I’m very happy that it is my hobby, and I think the more I’ve learned about the gaming industry, the more I’m like, “Jane Street is the right job for me.”"

After taking to friends who are developers in the gaming industry, Erlich said she'd reached the conclusion that, "game developers are a little bit the musicians of software." The game development industry is highly competitive and entails long hours, said Erlich. Minsky concurred: "I feel like being a game developer is a little bit like being a violinist. It’s a hard thing and lots of people love it and want to do it, so it can be very competitive," he mused. 

While Jane Street might be expected to emphasize the appeal of its own roles, it's an exchange worth noting, given that Jane Street and its competitors like Citadel Securities are busy hiring from the gaming sector. William Archbell, a senior software engineer at Citadel Securities, previously designed games for the X-Box, for example. Adam Meyerhoff, an engineer at Jane Street in New York, previously worked for a game design company called Robot Satan. 

 Ehrlich and Minsky aren't alone in observing the downside to careers in gaming development. The gaming industry is notorious for a working practice known as the "crunch" in which employees working 80+hours a week to get games out the door. Writing on forum website Blind, one engineer in his mid-40s said recently that years of crunching had destroyed his memory: "I'm at the point where my family is reminding me about things I've forgotten almost every day. Important stuff too, like doctors appointments and financial to-dos. It's honestly kind of scary."

Talking off the record, one C++ developer who quit gaming to become a developer at another trading firm told us he's better paid and works less.  "People in the gaming industry are very, very good – they have interesting challenges to solve, but the competition is intense, and the pay is poor. I worked nine months straight without a day off, including several all-nighters."

The intensity of software development careers in the gaming industry was portrayed earlier this month in a tweet on Labor Day by gaming development executive Glen Schofield. "“We r working 6-7 days a week, nobody's forcing us. Exhaustion, tired, Covid but we're working. Bugs, glitches, perf fixes. 1 last pass thru audio. 12-15 hr days. This is gaming. Hard work. Lunch, dinner working. U do it cause ya luv it," wrote Schofield.

After this caused a furor, Schofield deleted the tweet and replaced it with the tweet below. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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