How to get into the Games Industry.
Having worked in the games industry for 20 years, the question we get asked most is “how do you break into the games industry?”. Ultimately, this comes down to skills, passion, and determination. The good news is the games industry is constantly growing and evolving, and new talent is always needed.
When I started in the games industry I knew I wanted to be a games designer, but had very little idea what that entailed. I found a local company, Codemasters, that was looking for QA staff and managed to get an interview. Fortunately, I got the opportunity, and I did not just work hard at my job to learn how games were made, I also learnt how to network. Within 9 months, I’d achieved my goal of becoming a games designer. I’d put it down to the following: –
Professionalism — I turned up for work on time every day, worked hard, learnt as much as I could, and tried to do more than was expected of me.
Enthusiasm — I loved games, so this was easy. Playing games all day and getting paid was a bonus!
Networking — I tried to get to know as many people as I could. No matter their job, I showed an interest and asked them questions about it.
Team player — I did not only try my best to help those around me and contribute as much as possible, but I also demonstrated I could be left to handle tasks on my own.
Creativity — I tried to make suggestions to improve the games I worked on, worked on my own game ideas too, and showed them to others.
If you love games, are friendly, inquisitive, and organized you already have a head start over most of your peers.
As my career developed, I started to interview people looking to get into game design, and often they had no experience. But here’s what I looked for: –
Passion — if you love games, say so. Let people know you’re not only enthusiastic and knowledgeable but also want to learn more about the process of development. Speak about your favourite games in an articulate way, explain what you like and don’t like, and how you’d improve them.
Soft skills — time-keeping, organization, communication, friendliness, knowledge, etc.
Games — a diverse experience of genres, platforms, and history, plus the ability to discuss them in a coherent and analytical way.
Creativity — people who have tried to design their own games in the past have always impressed. It doesn’t matter if it were a terrible idea, that they had taken the time to is more important than the technical skills we would later teach them.
Skills — for design this is technical writing, analytical mind, etc, as well as educational qualification. Though these are more important when interviewing coders, artists, etc.
Lastly and possibly most importantly is likeability. We’re going to be working together, so we have to get along. Are they extroverted? Funny? Smart? Etc.
Looking beyond design to the more technical roles in coding and art etc, qualifications are key these days. If you’re determined to follow a certain career path, it’s vital you plan your way to uni/college accordingly. That said, over the years some of the best team members we’ve worked with have been self-taught. In this case, it’s vital that you can present some impressive demos.
Finally, I wanted to touch on the opportunities that exist now that weren’t around when I started, namely making your own game. These days, so many successful games are made by one person or a small team, making a game in their own time, on their own. Tech provides so many useful, and mostly free tools allowing you to develop, collaborate and self-publish. We use Unity, Discord, Slack, Upwork, Steam, and more.
If you’re serious about a career in the games industry then show your passion, be diligent and good luck!