Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Notes from the VGXPO2008: Breaking into the industry

There were 6 or so people on this panel. Here are some general notes that I"ve tried to organize by topics

  • Hard to get in, no guaranteed jobs, everyone above average, you have to stand out, you have to be the best at what you do, you have to bring a lot of knowledge about games, and you have to put in a lot of work to find a good job. Industry has a "churn and burn" attitutde towards employees because there is a never-ending stream of people who want the jobs. 30-40% of industry jobs are non-production (marketing/PR brand development, project management)
  • Think about games broadly - lots of different types of games - casual, seirous, mobile, simulations - all need people with game making skills
  • Have to show you have a passion for the industry, for making games - shows in your portfolio, in your conversations
  • College degree shows you can finish something big - Graduate degrees good for pure game design - grad school like boot camp for the industry. Full sail starting masters program
  • Make games while you're in school - all kinds of games. Mod games
  • Need experience working on teams
  • Play games, lots of games, all kinds of games - don't have to finish them - play and understand the basics. Be able to talk about them. Play the games made by the studios where you would like to work.
  • Get experience playing and making online games - everyone is looking to be online
  • Look at the studios where you want to work and see what jobs are listed on their website, then see what skills they want in those jobs, then look for a program that offers those skills. look for the job titles so you know what to search on. Look for the names of people doing interesting work in the field you want to be in - follow them in the news, read their blogs so you have something to talk about if ya get to meet them.
  • Get skills to do other stuff in addition to making games so you have stuff to fall back on when jobs are scarce.

Portfolio & Interviews
  • Portfolio should have a clean professional design. Include stuff specific to the kind of job you're applying for. Have someone in the biz review your portfolio.
  • Degree and resume not enough - you need a solid portfolio that shows how you're different from competition, there is lots of competition, you can put in games that you made in class. Be sure to say what you did on projects - don't lie but don't sell yourself short.
  • Start working now to develop and build up your portfolio - mod, mod, mod make own game with lots of tools - XNA, Torque, web tools. Have friends play your games and give you feedback.
  • Look for internships - not all companies have organized internship programs so you ahve to contact them and ask for opportunitites
  • If artist, put in things that have real world equivalents (reference pictures) and your drawings better be picture perfect. DOn't put in cars, mechs robots, spaceships imaginary sci fi landscapes
  • At interiew be very professional be sure you know about the compnay and the games that they make
  • play games from the studio(s) where you want to work - they're going to ask you about it at interviews and you need to sound/be informed
  • Network, network, network - especially when economy tough, industry very competitive so you have to know people and make good first impressions. Be sure to have business cards (that say the title you want, not student). Talk to the speakers at panels. Ask if you can contact them about portfolio reviews. They believe that most people in the biz are willing to give advice.
  • Volunteer at conferences - good for networking, good for showing your dedication to the industry, learn a lot
  • Blog, create a website - have an online presence, a professional presence
  • Join professional orgs - IGDA, ECA, Videogame Voters Network - take part in student chapters, take leadership roles, invite guests.
Here's a good blog post by an audio guy who was on one of the panels - http://www.mikeworthmusic.com/blog/?p=26

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