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I wanna make video games? Part I : Working for the Man

My overview of how getting into the game business for newbies.

Cathy Pyle, Blogger

January 12, 2010

3 Min Read

One of the most common questions I receive by email, phone, and in person is, “How do I get into the gaming industry?” I get this a lotfrom parents asking about their kids as well. I get asked this so often I have decided to make a blog series forit.  The answer is so lengthy and with so many facets that I will break it down into parts.

 When asked that question, I always ask back, “Do you want ajob in the video game industry, or do you want to create your own games and sell them?”  Most of the time this gives them pause because they hadn’t thought about it, or didn’t know that there was a distinction. In this blog, I will cover the "working for" part.  Please keep in mind that I am no expert on this topic because I myself have never directly worked for another game company.

 The biggest hurdle to getting a job in the video game industry is that you are one in a billion that want to do same.  This is much like Hollywood; lots of people want to do it as kids, but never get there. The younger you are the more likely you are to want to work in games industry.  I think this is because kids are not conscience that it is a job doing hours of grueling work and not eight hours of playing the games they want to play. So the first thing you need to realize is that playing games is not the same kind of fun as developing games.  Alot of the time developing games can be very much like developing software for any other software company.  Also keep in mind that you will be dealing with the same game day in and day out for months to several years until it is either finished or the project is canceled.  

 Corporate

The man's cave (Neuron's first office)


The Man's Cave, Neuron's first office

If you can stomach all that, then it all depends on what youwant to do.  Most of the time people want to be level creators, artists, or musician, Again, I think because they seem like the most fun.  For those people offer this advice.  Develop a great portfolio.  If you want to be an artistor musician, going for a college degree in for them might not be a bad idea.  However, not every artist or musician does.   Without something to show your work it is doubtful you will even get an interview.  If you are planning to become a game designer/ level editor, I would suggest you have a portfolio of levels you have already created for other games with editor tools to show off your brilliance.  Maybe make some videos of the levels since there is no guarantee you will get a chance to run the game for your perspective employer.

In any case you will still have to start at the bottom and work your way up.  You can’t be a chef of a five star restaurant directly off the street. You will have to wash dishes for a while and look for opportunities to move upward.  The same is true of the game industry.  Get a job as a game tester or work in the support center.  There you will learn a large volume of things about the gaming industry you otherwise would not have known, and have the opportunity to progress. Good luck to you.  If you want tobe a 3D Modeler, programmer, or producer your journey is a bit tougher, but the rewards are better.  I will talk about this in the Part 2.

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