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How video games can get you a job at a hedge fund or HFT firm

Video games: very fun to play, not so fun to develop. Game developers are well respected among hedge funds and high frequency trading firms for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, the de-facto programming language of choice for game development is C++ due to its low latency capabilities.

Algorithmic trading requires similar low latency and a developer that knows their way around low-latency C++ code has a big headstart.

A more interesting asset gained from working in game development stems from their culture, predominantly, 'the crunch.'

Engineers at game development companies are pushed to their limits as they aim to finish intricate and complex projects with strict release dates. For hyper competitive trading firms, that work ethic goes a long way.

It might be seen as a strange move to go from a harsh culture to an arguably even harsher one, however for the gaming industry is reportedly far more competitive and far lower paying. 

For example, the average engineer salary at Take-Two Interactive is just under $130k. They are the parent company of Rockstar Games who produced the most profitable piece of media ever made, GTA V.

So who are the big names from game development at the top firms? Most prominently, there's William Archbell, formerly of Riot and 343 games, currently head of platform technology at Citadel Securities.

A few high ranking technologists at prestigious hedge fund Bridgewater Associates have game development backgrounds. Mason Morales, a technology lead at Bridgewater was previously a principal security engineer at World of Warcraft developers Blizzard.

Trevor Pounds worked at Epic Games prior to joining Bridgewater as a senior engineer. He was entrusted to be lead infrastructure engineer of another Ray Dalio project, Principles, then took a year-long break as an executive director at JPMorgan before being brought back to Bridgewater as head of cloud critical infrastructure.

Indeed, cloud specialists from the games industry appear in high demand. This is due to the industries shift from local or hybrid games to always-online and games-as-a-service models, which necessitate greater cloud integration.

Riot Games: The internship of choice for hedge fund engineers

If you're a graduate or entry level engineer looking for an internship to help you stand out, many people at these firms have worked for Riot Games, developers of League of Legends, at intern level and above.

Laurence Robinson joined hedge fund D.E. Shaw full time following a Riot internship. Over 5 years he has risen to a VP for platform engineering. Alex Wright similarly joined HFT firm Tradebot after a Riot internship and became a senior software architect five and a half years after joining.

Full time Riot employees are also sought after. Principal engineer Andrés Meija joined Jump Trading as a quant developer last year. Security engineer Michael Metcalf also left around the same time to join fellow Riot alumni Archbell at Citadel Securities.

Riot open up internships applications in the fall. The role is treated as a full time job with a 40-hour workweek.

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Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: alex.mcmurray@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. 

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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