How To Get Into The Games Industry

I recently* was asked a quite common question which, oddly, I had not been asked before, namely: how do I get into the games industry?

To which I almost have to reply: I have no clue. I could tell you how I did it (I answered an ad I saw at a demo convention late 1990 and showed some of the demos I’d worked on), and there’s a core in there that still applies today (be able to show something finished), but I doubt it’s the most reliable way to get into the industry nowadays.

Apparently, these days you no longer get laughed out of the interview room when you mention that you have a degree in something vaguely relevant. Tisk tisk… things were different in my day – we wouldn’t even invite people who’d gone to university. Excuse me, I have to go yell at some kids on my lawn.

Anyway, in lieu of actual advice, how about some links instead?

David Perry writes a ton of stuff about getting into the games industry. He’s a good guy.

Tom Sloper’s Sloperama is also a treasure trove of information about a career in the games industry.

Finally, CMP Media has an entire website dedicated to the topic: GameCareerGuide.com.

I am sure much more can be found. Programmers need to show code and do tests, artists need to make portfolios, designers have it tough. The old start in QA move to production or design “hidden short-cut” still seems to work. Ack, don’t get me started on QA.

Let me know if you have some favorite advice about getting into the games biz!

* … in February actually, zomg.

Update: Darius Kazemi has a series of articles about networking in the games industry, and Mark made a good point: the IGDA has some relevant information on their website.

Comments 5

  1. Darius K. wrote:

    Hey Jurie,

    I write a series of articles called Effective Networking in the Game Industry. It’s for people who are trying to break in.

    http://tinysubversions.blogspot.com/2005/10/effective-networking-in-games-industry.html

    Posted 30 Jul 2007 at 16:54
  2. Jurie Horneman wrote:

    Thanks Darius! I don’t know if you remember, but we briefly met at the GDC in 2004. You are the second game developer I know who’s last name is Kazemi :)

    Posted 30 Jul 2007 at 17:14
  3. Mark wrote:

    IGDA?

    Do they have any intake functions?

    When people asked me this question I invariably said they should trek to the GDC and start networking. But that was back in the day. I have no idea what the GDC is like now, or whether the job fair is still a point of departure for people who are either new to the work force or new to the games biz.

    Posted 30 Jul 2007 at 19:20
  4. Darius K. wrote:

    Heh. I do remember meeting you; I didn’t think you’d remember!

    Posted 30 Jul 2007 at 23:36
  5. Patrick wrote:

    I’m surprised at how game design schools have really risen in prominence and acceptance over the past several years. It took a quite a while for them to really hone their programs and start to turn out the calibre students that we really wanted…

    My experiences only go back to 1993, but suffice it to say that there were no websites, no mod groups, and no easy way to meet (or even find) developers. As far as I was concerned, games were created by leprechauns in faraway magic castles… “Normal people” couldn’t get a chance to do that sort of thing! It took a bunch of legwork wandering around CES that summer to even get a few names.

    One of Surreal’s senior designers, Peter Carlson, just posted this somewhat tongue-in-cheek article about getting into the industry. http://www.surrealgamedesign.com/2007/07/24/breaking-in-to-the-games-industry/

    I consider his story the most interesting because several years ago, he gave up a high-paying job at HP in the Bay Area and decided to ditch it all and work at Legend for free. In the end it worked out great, but I have nothing but respect for the balls that must have taken.

    Posted 01 Aug 2007 at 4:19