Entry “Cost” of the Video Game Industry

– My tips to Video Game Industry –

– Premise –

The video game industry is one of the most lucrative industry in the world (55.05 Billions US dollars in 2015). It’s no wonder why people want to join this new industry. It seems there is a lot of money to make. Well, it’s partially true but still. The fact is, compared to ten or even fifteen years ago, there are so many more people who want to enter and there are a few places available.

You have two options. Either you apply to a job at any company in the world or you start your own. Here, I will cover the first option.

My goal here is to give my five personal tips to people who wants to join the industry so you can be a little bit more prepared. Some of them will probably sound obvious and/or stupid but what I’m writing here is still what I think will give you a better chance to step inside. I can assure you that I’ve done a lot of interviews with people applying to a job in my career and saw even more port-folios. It was not always great.

Here we go.

(Now with a TL;DR at the end!)

– TIP 1 – Be the Best –

Yeah, I start with that. Why the f**k you may ask? Well…

There are thousands of people, in all of the video game job departments, who come from school and want a job. There are not thousands of job opening. Simple formula, demand versus offer. There are some jobs that are probably easier to get into. Let’s say programmer. Not that it’s easy to be a programmer, far from that. It’s more that we need tons of them. It’s still goes back to that first point, there are a big amount of programmers every years who come from school too because people know that we need a lot of them.

So, you need to be the best or, close to it.

I’m not saying that you need to be the best in the world but, from all the people out there you need to make an impression for sure. Aim high, you’ll get great results.

Here in Quebec, you can get a diploma in Game Design. There are around 100 people every year who come from that particular discipline in Quebec City. How many inexperienced Game Designer do you think the companies here hire? My guess is probably one or two. Most probably one in fact.

You need to be the best.

– TIP 2 – Work your a** off –

When you are done from school you normally have a port-folio. Especially if you are an artist of any sort. Programming port-folio is a different story I guess so is game design.

Most of the time, what you have done is school is the bare minimum of what you want to show to anyone in the industry to try to get a job. Sometimes it’s even bellow that.

There are a few people who can get a job straight after the school with only what they have done there. What they show really need to kick a** though.

You need to keep working on your stuff when you are done with school. It’s so important to be able to show something else because like I’ve said with TIP 1, there are thousands of people who come out from school at the same time and probably a few hundred in the city that you live. This means that the people who were in the same class as you will show exactly the same thing as you and vice versa. The same gun, the same low poly character and the same scene with some lighting.

You really need to have more than that to show.

Also, most of the time now, the first job you will probably get will be a contract of a couple of months. There is, sadly, a big chance that the employee will lay you off after. A lot of companies hire people for the incoming crunch and then they lay them off after because they don’t have any job for them when the project is done. I know a lot of people who has experience that.

You need to keep your port-folio up to date at all time because of this.

At least, if that happens, you’ll probably have something to show from the game you worked on.

So, never stop working on your stuff.

– TIP 3 – Create Stuff that Matters –

This is really simple but it seems that it’s not always that obvious. If you want to work for a company you need to show stuff that matters to them.

If your dream job is to work on a 3rd person shooter for company X, create stuff that will be related to a 3rd person shooter that company X has done or is doing. Same thing if you want to work on that RTS franchise of company Y. Create RTS stuff!

It’s that simple. You need to change what you are doing in order to have more chances to step into company X or Y door.

I’ve seen a lot of port-folio with totally unrelated stuff that we were doing at the company I was working for.

Also, create and show stuff that is related to the job position that you dream of.

If you apply to be a Level Artist. Show scenes that you have done. If you want to be a modeler, show assets that you have created.

The person who will watch your port-folio has a small chance to be interested with stuff that is not related to what he/she is looking for.

That gun belongs to the modeler.

– TIP 4 – Be ready to move –

The cool thing is that there are a ton of game companies in the world.

The sad thing is that they seems to be all located in the same spots.

Obviously, where there is already a pool of people, companies what to go there to exploit that pool of talent. Sometimes, companies will also open a studio in a country where the cost of workers is pretty cheap but I’ve no idea if you want to work there. Maybe? Anyway.

Still, if you want to have better chances to get into the industry, be prepare to move. There is probably a small chance that the city you live in, if it’s not a pole like Los Angeles or Montréal, will have tons of video game companies.

If you are inexperience there is small chances that you will be brought by a company on the other side of the world. It can happen though! But it’s pretty rare. At least, you can probably move in the country that you live in. I’m pretty sure all the developed country in the world have a few video game companies.

Don’t be afraid to leave the cozy city you always lived.

Keep the faith and apply everywhere.

– TIP 5 – Be a Professional –

Even if in fact, you are not one still, you need to behave like one.

A professional will show polished stuff. He will show an awesome looking port-folio. He won’t do any mistakes when he write stuff. (I’m pretty sure there are some mistakes here, haha, anyway.) And so on…

If you send a motivation letter to a recruiter with mistakes for example, you’re done.

It’s over.

They haven’t even saw your port-folio! Maybe that was the best one but they will never know. They receive hundred of resume every day, they don’t have time to waste.

We see a lot of crazy stuff you know. At least you are sending an email, it’s not like you would spilled coffee on your motivation letter.

Even if all the point here are 100% important, I could concede that having an awesome port-folio is more important than this. But still, remember that if you show errors, mistakes, unfinished work, buggy levels, you’re done.

Everyone makes errors, yes but…

…A job application needs to be perfect.

– End notes –

I know, it all looks pretty dark right? It’s not that it’s all dark though. The important thing to remember is that there are so many people applying for jobs in the industry that you really need to make an impression.

If you have the will power and the talent, I’m sure that you can get a job somewhere!

TL;DR. There are thousands of people applying for jobs every years so you really need to be in the top to be able to get one. If the stuff that you show is just “meh” you won’t get a job 99.9% of the time. Work hard play hard. Be a professional and show awesome stuff. Everything will go well.

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