The next section is about something really important and maybe even controversial and that is that “knowledge is your portfolio”. I think we can all agree on that. As game or software professional our knowledge is what we sell. There are of course the soft skills as well like communication. But we do knowledge work so our knowledge is of great value. Don’t underestimate that by the way. It takes a long time to gather all the knowledge needed for game development. It’s like Uncle Bob said in one of his talkes; ”How many languages do you need to know to get a god damn website up!?”. We as game developers have the same issue right? How many languages, products and tools do you need to know to get a game released on AppStores? Think about it. It’s probably far more complex than you expect it to be. You will know this when you have battled with xcode with some obscure setting you forgot trying to release an iOS app.

But yeah knowledge is your portfolio. But what’s so controversial about this you might ask? Well many devs will still tell you that; if my boss wants me to know or use something, some new technology. They must pay for my classes, pay for my conference tickets and workshops. They must send me to bootcamps and I will only spend time studying during worktime and not at home.. And this is not what the pragmatic approach would be. The Pragmatic programmer makes the case that, since knowledge is your portfolio. You, yourself must be in charge. You will buy your own tickets for conferences, you will schedule your own courses and bootcamps. You will buy your own books. You will study at home and if allowed you spend time studying at work as well.

Uncle Bob makes the same case in his book The Clean Coder as well, not to be confused with Clean Code. The book is actually called The Clean Coder. We must take responsibility of our own knowledge. Don’t expect your employer to pay for your courses or any study materials. Do it yourself to improve your craft. It’s your career and so you must take lead and stay on top of things.

So the authors give some advise on how to gain and show your knowledge and that is of course with a portfolio. Just like an investor has a portfolio, so must you. I think that this is well understood in the game industry or well, the more creative side of software development. I often see that the people who work on the creative or artsy side of game development have a well developed portfolio. But programmers on the other hand sometimes lack a portfolio. I think part of the reason for this is that, programmers are always needed and it’s not a big deal to find a job in programming. You can find a decent job in just a matter of days I think. Especially here in The Netherlands.

But the advise the authors provide to keep a portfolio is really nice and they share a couple of ideas. First of all, you need to invest regularly. You need to invest in your portfolio every now and then just by a little could be enough. Did you use some new took at work, write a short little blog about it. Or provide like a snippet of code on github or gitlab for example. Maybe you read some nice blog or article about an emergent technology or something else you find interesting. Create a little project that shows your knowledge of the topic in a really simple way.

The next tip is to diversify your portfolio. As we read in the beginning of this book, pragmatic programmers are people with a broad skillset. So diversifying your portfolio is part of that. The more different things you know, the more valuable you are to an organization. Especially with for example the entire DevOps movement that is still running strong at this point in time. Having knowledge of CI/CD tools is a big plus. Another reason to diversify is that, the technology space is ever changing and at a rapid rate. Our industry has constant innovation and improvement and you cannot afford to slack and fall behind. You need to stay on top of the developments of your specific career path for example. You cannot follow everything of course, but at least you need to know the newest jazz about things that impact your career. So for example, me as a Unity3D programmer am on top of C#, .Net, Unity3D engine developments and experimental packages provided through the package manager in Unity like DOTS and the ECS. But also, I read about graphical improvements in unity like raytracing, which was a big deal a while ago.

The next tip is to manage the risk of your portfolio. So what do the authors mean? Well, they say that if you over specialize you might find yourself being put out of a job by new developments in the industry for example. If you put all your eggs in one basked so to say, that might be a bad choice. Although I don’t fully agree here, I mean, specializing as a Unity3D developer is still a very good idea at this moment. Unity3D is not going anywhere and will only gain in popularity I think. Especially with the entire Web3 and meta verse coming up. Whether you like that or not, it will come. I even saw a post on LinkedIn the other day where some dude made the case that the tech-stack of the future will be Web3, VR and some game or 3D engine, instead of the current Javascript and node stack. I think that’s a fascinating thought and one, many developers may not have seen coming. But yeah…

The next tip is to buy low and sell high. The authors mean that it might be difficult to find new and emergent technologies to focus on for portfolio work. It may even be risky and very difficult to get started with. But sometimes you have to, and it will pay out. Imagine the people who invested time into learning tools like Kubernetes in the early days. It was a novel, open source tool, which is currently the accepted standard for clustering and container management. I bet the early adopters have some pretty decent jobs and salaries that go with it.

And the last tip is to rebalance every once in a while. So, if the last time you experimented with a database was 2 years ago. Maybe like a local SQLite database for your game. Maybe you need reinvest some time in here again to refresh that knowledge. It won’t take you a lot of time but it will probably pay of.

But the bottom line is you need to invest regularly in your portfolio.


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