5 Tips to Help You get a Job in the Video Game Biz

Yesterday we ran an article about game writing, and it turned out to be so popular with people who want to do just that and get paid as well that we’ve gone back to that bottomless well we call the interwebs so we can bring you this insightful look at the video game gig situation:

videogamesjobsby Guy DeRosa

[This article was written by Guy DeRosa, games and interactive manager at recruitment agency Skillsearch. www.skillsearch.com]

As a recruitment agent I often find myself discussing how different the games industry is to recruit for versus any other. That’s extremely fortunate as I don’t think the other industries would tolerate me, and perhaps vice-versa (potentially because when I typed the word ‘versus’ I experienced an uncontrollable urge to shout “FIGHT” in an American accent because it reminded me of Street Fighter 2).

But perhaps I’m the bearer of more wisdom than I currently know. I was recently speaking to a careers advisor and learned that some are being advised in what could be viewed as quite a corporate/90s/dull manner when the truth is there is a lot more emphasis on being more you than you might believe. You’ve just got to know how to flaunt those feathers!

1. Get out there

Go and have some fun with the sort of people you want to become. The games community is small and intimate, so it takes no time at all to be recognised and known. This is one of the few industries in the world where people want to meet you for the sincere and simple reason that they just hope you’re a cool person to hang out with, so make the most of it. Take yourself off to launches, enthusiast groups (such as ‘Indie Game Developers’, ‘Augmenting Reality’, ‘Unity User Group’ on meetup.com), game jams, and events (Develop: Brighton, Rezzed), as this is a sure fire way to springboard your way into the industry.

Honestly, your next employer would probably prefer to meet you over a beer and a chat about games than via myself, a recruiter…

Surround yourself with people who will make growing the natural thing to do.

2. Build an online presence

There’s a chance you will have some sort of online presence already, but how good is it?

LinkedIn is a good place to start if you have no presence but you do have some experience. Build a network of connections and politely request recommendations for any previous (industry relevant) work that you have done. Even if that means connecting with your old uni peers and asking a lecturer to recommend you, it’s a good start to padding that profile out. Make sure you add projects to this, and specify what your role/duties were – that part is crucial!

Available now? Looking for new opportunities? Make sure prospective employers can see that in your title.

Freelancer? Why not add your next date of availability to your LinkedIn title.

Portfolio/Showreels

Building a portfolio site is the next big step you should take – or in some cases putting some love into that site which has been sitting half finished since your second year at uni. For you artists and designers in particular, the appearance of your site is critical. Having an ugly or badly-designed site can call into question your sense of design or usability, and that’s not what you want… Even the coders amongst you can be judged on it!

I probably don’t need to tell you this, but it’s probably best to keep your Flash use to a minimum these days too.

Make it as easy as you can for the hiring staff to evaluate your work. My advice would be to run through your projects history, ring fencing each one clearly. Ensure that you describe what you did, and what software you may have used to do it. Any visuals you can provide, including YouTube clips to gameplay where possible, is a massive bonus.

Other places to build a presence

Online communities and forums are a good place to get others to critique your work, and frequent involvement (especially if it displays how you are improving) can get noticed by the right people.

Twitter is another great tool and an excellent way to show everybody what an interesting person you are! At the end of every conversation with a new client I ask them if there is anything more I should know about the kind of people they’d like to recruit, and the answer is always the same: we want people with personality! Now this doesn’t mean you need to be ‘crazy’, but gone are the days that a interview meant you have to be the most boring version of you – bear this in mind when CV writing and Twittering – we want to know that you’re suitable for the role and what you think of the new Star Wars movie!

3. Use the right recruiters

Read it all at Develop