One of the most practical and valuable panels I attended at DragonCon was in the Video Gaming Track called “Getting Into the Video Games Industry”. Those enduring souls that attended this on the last day of the Con were well rewarded.
The panel contained a range of disciplines in the video game industry.
Billy Bramer, Gameplay Programmer, Epic Games
Jim Brown, Designer, Epic Games
Chris Avellone, Chief Creative Officer, Obsidian Entertainment
Steve Jaros, Creative Director, Volition, Inc.
David Gaider, Lead Design Writer, Bioware
Preston Thorne, Tech Support Manager, Epic Games
Each shared how they got into the industry, including the mistakes they made, and gave their best advice for those wanting to apply. Below is a list of the highlights that were discussed. Some of them may seem completely obvious but, apparently needed some emphasis because these guys brought it up.
- Don’t try to be something that you’re not in order to get into the industry. Find what you really love and what you can really do and find that position in the industry
- Written job submissions should be simple. If they ask for a quest, submit a quest, not an entire game design. And put it in the context of the world the game the company makes.
- You will get rejected. Be persistent but don’t be a stalker.
- Practice the interview process. Yep, practice.
- It’s o.k. to ask what to wear to the interview.
- If you’re changing industries, show how your skills apply in the video game industry.
- You will get rejected. Continually work on your skills and reapply.
- Don’t be a jerk. The game industry is small; word gets around.
- It’s fine to be passionate but also be a listener; you might learn something.
- When you apply, follow directions. If you can’t follow directions in the application, how do they know you’ll follow directions on the job?
- Use a recognizable, professional email address. Actual name is best.
- With all the tools out there, open source and free engines online, it’s possible to do the job before you get the job. Make something to show what you can do.
- There are many designers: writers, world builders, artists, scripting. When applying, take the time to read what the company is looking for. Apply for a specific position. Personalize it and make sure it fits the criteria they are looking for.
- Be able to integrate with the other disciplines in the company; you’ll be a more valuable asset. Developers should know how to talk to Designers, QA Testers, etc
- Listen to critiques, stick with it, and improve your skills.
- Communication is key. Phone calls, emails, and submissions should all prove you are a good, efficient communicator.
- Putting out a game is a group effort. You have to work well with others. Sounds obvious but you can’t be a snob, elitist, or easily offended.